404 for Driver packages, can’t find content.

Driver management has never been a fun aspect of Configuration Manager.  It is one of those necessary evils to enable a bigger solution of great OS deployment.  Done according to product design it consists of 3 general steps:

  1. Import drivers into driver catalog
  2. Add drivers to driver packages
  3. Add boot critical drivers to WinPE images


Adding drivers to the driver catalog can, if not done with foresight, become a big mess.  Some advice floating around the net recommended avoiding this mess by skipping step 1 and just creating a flat directory structure and pointing to it as your source for your driver package.  To my knowledge this was never recommended by Microsoft, or supported as a proper driver management technique, but it worked and it is hard to argue with something that works and saves you time…., until now.

Under System Center 2012 Configuration Manager this method is blocked in the UI.  If you try to make a driver package and point to a directory that already has files in it, you will get an error.  However, if you migrate what you had under SCCM 2007 to 2012, the driver packages will migrate just fine and all will seem good..., until you run your first task sequence that uses those driver packages.

When you run that task sequence you will fail to find content for the driver package.  If you look into the smsts.log you will find a 404 error being raised when trying to find the driver package contents.  This is because the new single instance storage model on the DP is not compatible with the unsupported manor in which the driver packages were made.  The solution is to go back to the supported method of driver management, using step 1 from above, and manage the “mess” of drivers as best you can.

Sorry for the bad news folks.  The testing for the new features in ConfigMgr 2012 apparently didn’t go over testing all the unsupported scenarios out there, no matter how popular.

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