Which Device Drivers Should I Import Into My Boot Image?

Today’s post comes from a colleague here in the UK, Jason Wallace. Jason is a fellow Configuration Manager Premier Field Engineer. Here he shares his knowledge and experience on device drivers in boot images. Enough of me, over to Jason!



Something which we sometimes see are questions regarding device drivers and Operating System deployment in System Center Configuration Manager.  In particular which device driver should go where?  In this blog post I’ll try to address these questions.  Here goes.


Depending upon which version of System Center Configuration Manager you are using, your boot image will either be WinPE 2.0 or winPE 3.0.  These are either based upon Windows VISTA or Windows 7 respectively, so regardless of which operating system you plan to deploy, you’ll need to have either VISTA or Windows 7 device drivers in use.  Firstly, the hope is that you won’t need to import any device drivers into your boot image, as all of the drivers you need will be there anyway.  The only drivers you need to be worrying about here are network interface card drivers, mass storage drivers and also chipset drivers.  Importing webcam drivers and so on is a bad move at this point.


So, how do I know whether I need to import drivers onto a system?  First things, on your boot image in System Center Configuration Manager console, right click on your boot image and under properties, enable the support of [F8].  If you don’t do this then you’ll not be able to do any troubleshooting while in WinPE.  Now, don’t forget to update your distribution points.  Now, try booting up your system into WinPE and opening up a command prompt by hitting [F8].  In the command prompt, type IPCONFIG. If this comes up with a very short message, saying “Media Disconnected” then quite probably you’ll need to import a network driver for this computer.  To check that you have access to the disk drive(s) on the system then in the command prompt, type Diskpart list disk If this shows the disks then you’re good to go on the disk front.


Importing a driver should be fairly simple – once you’ve identified the correct driver from the vendor!  All you should need to do is go through the driver import routine in the System Center Configuration Manager console and choose to import the driver into your boot image.  In order for this to work, the driver needs to have a TXTSETUP.OEM file associated with it.  If it doesn’t, you have two options:  Go back to the vendor and ask for one, or to mount the boot image under IMAGEX and manually import it.  Going to the vendor is usually the easier option.  Once you have imported the drivers into your boot image, don’t forget to update your distribution points.


Depending upon who your hardware vendor is they may be able to supply the drivers that you need in a bundle.  For example, Dell have such an offering at http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/Dell+Business+Client+Operating+System+Deployment+-+The+.CAB+Files


Lastly; just a general note on device drivers.  I have found that after updating a device driver package and updating the distribution points, sometimes the old driver package is read incorrectly and problems persist.  Updating the driver package a second time seems to resolve this issue.


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This post was contributed by Jason Wallace, a Premier Field Engineer with Microsoft Premier Field Engineering, UK

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