Google Namebench to hunt down fastest DNS

Few days back, I wrote over the promising Google product Google DNS and today I am choosing to write over another related utility from Google side.


Tell me!!! How you perform the task of choosing best DNS server? The famous one? The default ISP one? The knowingly reliable one? Don’t you think that its not a good practice to rely on things without self testing. Technically, DNS is one of most crucial point about your browsing experience, so how can you choose a DNS with not-so-well-defined process? Let’s see, what Namebench does here for your in place of just simplest tests, you might have done for testing the best DNS out there.

Google's Namebench

Namebench: One of 20% projects at Google, is basically an Open-Source DNS Benchmarking Utility. It hunts down the fastest DNS Servers available for your computer to use with a detailed method and report. Its written using open-source tools and libraries such as Python, Tkinter, PyObjC, dnspython, jinja2 and graphy.


Namebench runs a fair and through benchmark using your web browser history (after all, browser behaviour changes over what you visit), tcpdump output, or standardized datasets in order to provide an individualized recommendation. It also determine cache-sharing relationships between different IP’s and removes the slowest of these servers to avoid improperly benchmarking them solely on cached results. It also reports on DNS misbehaviour such as DNS hijiacking and censorship. Moreover, its completely free and doesn’t modify anything in your system. 

Screenshot


It runs on Mac OS X, Windows and Unix and is available with a graphical interface as well as a command-line interface.

Running the Windows/ Mac Version is kind of simple (and even Linux version, if you have right libraries python-tk in your system), you get greeted with a simplest interface as shown in pics, which is almost perfectly fine to run with default settings it appear with. Although, for more detailed description of the options, you may check the official wiki.

People, who like command-line tools more than GUIs, will get disappointed in case of its Windows version, but rest two versions has a pretty efficient command-line. You could find the info related using Namebench command-line here.


So, what you waiting for? Wanna be a geek? With Namebench, get a reality check yourself that are you in safe hands (right DNS server)? or which DNS is more better and how much better? Download it from here.


Here, I also want to comment over that “What a Google 20% project means?”

Google offers its engineers “20 percent time” so that they are free to work on what they’re really passionate about. Google Suggest, AdSense for content, Orkut and this Namebench are among the many products of this ‘perk’.

🙂

photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar

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Windows 2000 and XP SP2 Support ending on July 2010

So finally the bad news is about to arrive.


As per Microsoft Lifecycle of the product, mainstream support for Windows 2000 was already ended on June 30, 2005 and now the extended support is also about to expire on July 13, 2010. The same is for Windows XP SP2 which will end on the same day (although support for Windows XP SP3 will remain continued till April 8, 2014).


 win2000advserv SP2

XP Users could relax for a little longer as XP SP3 support will remain continued till April 8, 2014 and only the support for XP SP2 is ending by July 13, 2010. If any more service comes then it will be continued to 24 months more.

windows-xp-services-pakc-3-logo

Before the headline starts a panic, let us know about how Microsoft Support Life Cycle Policy works and what is going to change with the same date.

Microsoft Support consists of three phases:

  1. Extended Support (5 More Years)

With Microsoft Products, once your Mainstream Support expires, you will not be able for claim for warranty support, design changes or new feature requests. Non security hot fixes support will be available via a separate Extended Hot-fix Support Agreement only. Obviously, no more service pack, neither any new license purchase would be available.


Once, your extended support expires, you will not receive security updates or non security related hot-fixes and although the support knowledge base will remain available on site for self help, but one should not expect the content to be updated any more or MVPs to reply queries related to that product in official forums.


Its time to get into migration work for those IT managers (although I guess there must be only few), who might not yet migrated their Database Server/ File Servers/ Domain Controllers etc from Windows 2000 to Windows 2003 or Windows 2008 as having a server without updates security fixes meant to lots of vulnerabilities and is also against security compliances of audit requirements. Check the link in above text and also the migration checklist for the migration related information.

Moreover, it might be a hard time to spend more for those companies, which are yet relying on their older machines with 256MB RAMs and their IT managers are managing the support by keeping the machines with SP2 only for performance reasons.


Now, about our Windows XP Users, who resisted whole heartedly against Windows Vista and still resistance remained against Windows 7 in some way to keep Windows XP Professional continued, it might be their time to think, as even if away, the time will come when they will be forced to do the switch and sure, there are some good reasons to switch over Windows 7 as well.

Moreover, one must get used to the product before be forced to do so. Technology changes for better and you cant expect a manufacturer getting programmers new generation involved with the technology that passed on.

So, the tagline is “Don’t panic right now, but take a step for next future.”

Offline Gmail – Are you still not using it?

“ Have you ever been tired of switching to html mode in Gmail, due to your slow internet connection? Have you ever been waited for opening some mail in feature rich ajax based standard version  of Gmail? Have you ever been wished that you would have some email client in same way as Gmail is in its web version? Here is the solution from Gmail side; Offline Feature.

“ Officially introduced in January 27, 2009 as an experimental Gmail Labs Offline Features, came up to change the capabilities of web-based mail, is now a regular part of Gmail from December 07, 2009. ”

P.S.: its for good of your personal PC only, not any public one like Office or cafe. 

Google_Labs_logo gmail-logo


Google is already making itself as a center of whole Internet World and making the world ready for Cloud Computing. Look like now in place of choosing to develop some email client of its own, and making many of users preferring web version of Gmail over any email client, now has came up with solution of enabling Gmail to work in offline mode. Its expected to work in the same way as their other service Google Reader is already working for Offline mode from long (since May 31, 2007).

gears

Web-based emails are great as one could access them from anywhere, but catch is; it’s limited by the internet connection itself. So, Gmail provided the solution to cache the mails to local PC through Gears. As long you are connected to Internet, the local cache keeps itself in sync with Gmail’s Servers and when you loose your connection, it automatically switches to Offline mode and uses the data stored on your computer’s hard rive instead of the information set across the network.


“ With Offline mode, you can still read messages, star and label them and do most of the things you’re used to doing while reading your webmail online and that too with blazing fast performance (I felt it even more faster than normal Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail, just touch a mail to go). Any messages you send while offline will be placed in your outbox and automatically sent the next time Gmail detects a connection. ”

Not only this but with now this matured feature, two more in-demand options has been added to Offline Gmail: an option to choose which messages get downloaded for offline use and the ability to send attachments while offline.

“ Now, it may even replace Outlook express (or any other mail client) for a few users so that they could keep on using Gmail Offline all day long and could connect to internet once or twice a day. ”


So, what are you waiting for? Start with Offline Gmail. First of all, you would be needed to keep Google Gears ON and obviously the browser you might be using must supports Gears (like Internet Explorer 7.0+, Firefox 2.0+, Safari 3.0+ and Google Chrome) and then follow the instructions as given below:

  1. Click the “Settings”  link in the top-right corner of Gmail.
  2. Click the “Offline” tab.
  3. Select “Enable Offline Mail for this computer”.
  4. Click “Save Changes” and follow the directions from here.

After the browser reloads, you’ll see a new “Offline” link in the upper right hand corner of your account, next to your username. Click this link to start the offline setup process and download Gears, if you don’t already use it.

I am also putting some screen shots to let you know it more closely.

Installing Offline Access

Google Gears will show a Security Warning

Creating a desktop shortcut for Access Gmail



With all the excitements out there, I would also like to remind the differences between normal Email Clients like Outlook express, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail etc and web-based Offline Solution of Gmail.

First of all, I am not yet sure about procedures related backing up and exporting data of Google Gears for we like administrators that whether they even exists or not. With a few known issues, Offline Gmail still doesn’t support accessing Contact Manager (although auto-complete feature works), Complete Search Results (for obvious reasons), Access to conversations in Spam and Trash (as they were considered to be less required) and some Gmail Labs features.


Also those users, who might have using Gmail in https mode always, will feel many glitches with Offline Gmail (although I do think that its not a product for that much security conscious users and I recommend it for home users and personal laptops only)

But still for most of the Gmail Users Community, its a very welcome feature for already feature-rich Gmail. I am sure that many would like to use it.


Do you know, many other things could also be used for Offline through Google Gears and other services? Yeah you can use any of website  for reading it offline. Check webnol’s Article.


photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar

More about Google wave

Facts about Google wave continues ….

Do you know your Google Wave ID (like mine is contactfornitish@googlewave.com) is nothing sort of Email ID means no one could send an email over the same address and only waves could be sent over the same.

Do you know Wave uses your regular Google Account’s contact list means if any of your contacts are also using Wave, those people automatically show up in your Wave Contact List.

Do you know the best visible difference between a Wave conversation and Email conversation is that you can add contacts anytime later on and they could follow the conversation fro right there and could read the earlier lines etc. Means not needed to be CC from start if it was case of email.

Do you know even if you don’t have any contacts online in Google Wave, you can go for participating public waves anytime with typing the special query with:public and it will return a firehouse of constantly updating waves like the case of twitters. A better luck would be targeting your query over particular topic like with: public firefox, which will return wave related to firefox only.

Do you know A Wave can show more than one cursor working within a given wave as well, which means active waves with lots of participants could be a treat to watch with multi-colored names typing text before your eyes… live. I guess watching multiple people typing within the same document would be the most new and electrifying experience for most of the people. 🙂

Do you know although not available right now, but Wave will offer a feature that you could stop showing your typing (i.e. blips) means you could complete your typing and then press the button and your sentence; the blip will appear at once. This will be called as Draft Mode and is one of many features, which are not available in preview mode

Do you know Wave is not something completely browser independent. Wave uses recently developed web standards, such as HTML5, to perform a lot of its behind the scenes magic. So, for the richer experience from Wave, you need a browser having full support to HTML5 like Google Chrome, Firefox 3.5+ or Safari 4.

Do you know there are three ways to edit a wave

1. Reply below a Blip.
2. Reply inline within a Blip
3. Edit the existing content of a Blip.

Do you know as of now, Internet Explorer can’t run Google Wave properly as it doesn’t have support to HTML5. Although Google has released an open source browser plugin for bridging the gap. Wave prompts Internet Explorer users to install the same plugin in following way.

GoogleWave for Dummies

Do you know As of in early stages of it, Google Wave is struggling about Mobile devices as most the mobile browsers are not fully supporting to it and one could get it only after avoiding the warning of browser not supported.

Do you know your Wave Contact List is a subset of your Google Account’s exisiting Contacts list and you can add people to your Wave Contacts List only if they already have a Wave Account.

Do you know as of now, there is no way to remove a contact from a wave once added with the exception of bots.

Do you know as in theory Google Profiles are the same as Wave profiles and so you could edit yours to have links, hobbies, photos for the same.

Do you know every time a wave updates, it moves to the top of your inbox and its subject line turns bold. Wave’s instant, real-time notifications are a double edged sword; wonderful when you’re waiting on important updates, terrible when new information you don’t care about distracts you. the achieve and mute buttons can help you clean out your inbox and silence chatty waves one by one.

In the similar ways like emails, waves could be marked read or unread and also could be arranged within folders and subfolders.

Do you know although was available as a privilege to blog posts only, now tags are part of waves as well and playing the same role as was in case of blog posts. Tags provide a more free-form way to file your waves. Unlike folders, you can add as many tags to waves and also unlike folders, anyone participating could see those tags.

Do you know as of now, Wave doesn’t recognize special search characters like square brackets, parentheses, currency symbols, the ampersand, the pound sign and the asterisks. It also doesn’t recognize partial or similar matches, so a search for “travel”  doesn’t find “travels”, “traveler” or “Travle”.

Do you know If your browser has the Google Gears plug-in installed, you can drag and drop files from your computer directly into your wave. (Gears comes with Google Chrome for Windows and its freely available to install on Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari for Mac).

Do you know If your wave contains multiple images, then an Images button appears next to the Files button on the bottom of that wave. Click the Images button and Choose View as Slide Show to easily flip through the photos at their full size.

Do you know how can we can make a wave public? Here is the trick. Add the public@a.gwave.com wave ID to your contacts list the way you would any other contact (although you will get the warning that user doesn’t has any Google Wave Account but you need to continue anyway). Add the same ID as participant to any of your wave and your wave would be a public wave right then.

Now finally, do you know the keyboard shortcuts with Google wave. Here are some

Navigation Shortcuts
Up/Down Arrows Moves you up and down the blips in a wave.
Home Takes you to the first blip in a wave.
End Takes you to the last blip in a wave.
Space Takes you to the next unread blip in a wave.
Page Up/Page Down Scrolls a panel up and down a page at a time.
Ctrl+Space Marks all blips "read" when focus is on the Wave panel.

Wave Editing Shortcuts
Enter
Replies to a blip at the same level of indentation.
Shift+Enter (in view mode) Replies to a blip at the end of a wave. The new blip appears at the same
indentation level, at the very end of the wave.
Ctrl+E Edits a blip.
Shift+Enter (in edit mode) Ends your blip editing session (same as the Done button).
Ctrl+B Bolds/unbolds selected text.
Ctrl+I Italicizes/unitalicizes selected text.
Ctrl+U Underlines/removes underline from selected text.
Ctrl+G Adds color to text via "poor man’s rich text" pop-up, in which you can type a color name (like "blue" or "red") or enter the hexadecimal HTML color code.
Ctrl+K Adds a link.
Ctrl+[n] Makes the current line a heading, where [n] = 1 through 4 for different sized headings.
Ctrl+5 Adds bullets.
Ctrl+6 Removes formatting from text.
Ctrl+7 Left-aligns text.
Ctrl+8 Right-aligns text.

Navigate Image Slide Shows
Space+Right Moves to the next slide.
Shift+Space Moves to the previous slide.
Down / Page Down Moves to the next set of thumbnails.

Rest will come up as I learn more and more about Google Wave.

The Google Wave Book

Windows Deployment Services : Finally done

Sometimes, the most difficult things look easy, when they get finished. For me Windows Deployment Services was almost joined in the unfortunate list with TCExam; things, which irritated me a lot, while I was trying to learn them. I really remember the day, when I deployed RIS and it really taken lots of R-n-D to handle network drivers and also many manual entries as well. But it was done and then we moved with it pretty well for a while. The recent challenge arrived, when I was to deploy WDS from entirely scratch and that too within a timeline along with my all other works. The requirement was to create a kind of locked up image having necessary software/ drivers along with many vulnerable and un-necessary services disabled. I was to use Windows Deployment Services for the same.

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Sometimes, the most difficult things look easy, when they get finished. For me Windows Deployment Services was almost joined in the unfortunate list with TCExam; things, which irritated me a lot, while I was trying to learn them. I really remember the day, when I deployed RIS and it really taken lots of R-n-D to handle network drivers and also many manual entries as well. But it was done and then we moved with it pretty well for a while. The recent challenge arrived, when I was to deploy WDS from entirely scratch and that too within a timeline along with my all other works. The requirement was to create a kind of locked up image having necessary software/ drivers along with many vulnerable and un-necessary services disabled. I was to use Windows Deployment Services for the same.

WDS been a straight improvement over RIS in the same way as WSUS has been over SUS. Either its been image management or driver compatibility or speed or be it space requirements. Its one step ahead in every way. But unfortunately, it troubled me a lot due to minor things.

Initially I was much troubled with the network driver injection thing as I started with Riprep (like RIS days) and it refused to take every possible way to get it done. The issue was kind of more highlighted due to much time taken in experiments due to lesser RAM.

After giving up with all RIS things, I finally started from scratch with help of following article. The basics were requiring simply sysprep an Ideal System and use the image as install image and in addition, to inject network drivers in boot image via imagex from Widnows AIK. But after sysprep, my Image PCs will not getting started and were in continuous reboot cycle.

Much later, finally somehow, I pinpointed the trouble and it seemed to do something with disabling services; specially Telephony Services. I prepared an updated system along with required software/ drivers without disabling any services and then sysprep it and it worked. 🙂

Here I am going to give all the steps, whcih worked for me in the end (from Lucius Craig blog).

Step 1 – Installing WDS on your Windows 2003 Server SP2

  • Logon to the Server with Domain Administrator rights
  • Navigate to the control panel and click Add/Remove Programs
  • Click Add/Remove Windows Components
  • Scroll down and check Windows Deployment Services
  • Click Next and Finish (once installed WDS can be found under Administrative Tasks)

Step 2 – Configure Windows Deployment Services

  • Navigate to Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools > Windows Deployment Services (WDS MMC should appear)
  • Expand Server and right click [sever name] and click Configure Server
  • Click Next to start the Wizard
  • Check the Path if needed (I used D:\Remoteinstall because of disk space on system drive C:)
  • If you have DHCP Server on the same server, then For DHCP Options 60 Check both “Do not listen on Port 67″ and “Configure DHCP option 60 to “PXE Client” and Click Next. If not then leave it as it is.
  • For PXE Server Initial Settings select “Respond to all (known and unknown) client computers” and click Finish

Step 3 – Install OS and all needed Applications (excluding Windows Media Player 11)

  • Enable network boot option in BIOS 
  • Install Operating System – In my case I installed a Volume Copy of Windows XP Professional SP2
  • Join to the Domain and install needed Application and Updates
  • Remove from Domain

Step 4 – Setup Boot Image in WDS

  • Create a folder on the sever to copy two WIM files to (WinPE.WIM and Boot.WIM)
  • Insert a Vista Business DVD in to the DVD-ROM drive and browse the Disk for a file called Boot.WIM and copy to folder recently created folder
  • Navigate to Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86\WinPE.WIM and Copy to recently created folder
  • Now I opened up WDS expanded Server and right clicked the Boot Image Folder and Clicked Add Image
  • Browsed to Boot.WIM  and click OK
  • Repeated for WinPE.WIM and click OK
  • Next, In WDS I right clicked WinPE and Clicked Capture Image
  • Finally, In WDS I created a Master Image Group called “Windows XP Image”

Step 5 – Sysprep the Master Image

  • To Run the sysprep I inserted the XP Professional SP2 Disk and Browsed to the deploy.cab file (in my case it was D:\Support\Tools\Deploy.cab)
  • I used WinZip to extract the Deploy.cab file to a new folder I created called sysprep (C:\sysprep
  • Navigate to the C:\sysprep folder and launch setupmgr.exe
  • Click Next to Start the Wizard
  • Select “Create new” and click Next to continue
  • Select “Sysprep setup” and click Next to continue
  • Selct “Windows XP Professional” and click Next to continue
  • Select “No,do not fully automate this installation” and click Next to continue
  • For Gernerl Settings enter the Name and Organization, Display Settings (default), enter the Time Zone applicable and then enter the Product Key
  • For Network Settings select “Automatically generate computer name, Select “Use the following Administrator password (127 characters maximum ; case-sensitive” and enter local administrator password and confirm. Select Typical settings and finally select Workgroup.
  • For Advanced Settings specify Country or region, enter area code, Regional Settings select “Specify regional settings in the answerfile” and check ”Customize the default regional settings” Click Custom and verify and enter sysprep Identification String (example Windows XP Deployment for HP DX2480)
  • Click Finish and OK
  • Click Cancel to Close Setup Manager ( This is an annoying microsoft glitch)
  • Now runs Sysprep by navigating back to c:\sysprep and launch sysprep.exe
  • Click OK to Continue
  • The System Preparation Tool 2.0 windows should appear. Check “Use Mini-Setup and then Click Factory
  • Once PC shuts down press the power button to restart the PC (PC will take some time to reboot)
  • Once at the Desktop Click Reseal and OK to Shutdown the PC
  • PC should Shutdown (do not boot to windows you need to PXE boot and capture the image
  • Sysprep is Complete

Step 6 – Create Master Image for WDS

  • Boot up the PC that you want to image and press F12 to enter Boot Menu
  • Select Onboard Network Controller and press Enter
  • Press F12 again to Boot from network
  • Select Windows Vista PE (x86) and press Enter
  • From the command prompt type wdscapture.exe
  • Click Next to start the WDS Image Capture Wizard
  • In the Image Capture Source use the dropdown to select the volume to capture (in my case it was C:\) and enter an Image Name and Image Description. Once complete click Next
  • In the Image Capture Destination you will need to browse to a local Destination ( I had problems finding the WDS server when I checked “Upload image to WDS server:”)
  • Click Finish to begin capturing Image
  • Once I had the Image I restarted the Master-Image PC and Join to Domain
  • I copied the image file to a local directory on the WDS server
  • Once complete I opened WDS and expanded Servers> [Server Name] > Install Image
  • Right Click Install Image Group and Select  Add Install Image
  • Browse to the Image and Click OK to upload the Image to WDS

Step 7 – Image New PC

  • Press F2 to access the BIOS and make sure that PXEboot is enabled on the NIC
  • Press F12 to access the Boot Menu
  • Select “Onboard Network Controller
  • After DHCP issues IP address press F12 to continue
  • Select “Microsoft WindowsVista PE (x86)” and press Enter
  • Once wpeinit launches type the following:
    • Diskpart
    • Select disk 0
    • Clean
    • Exit
  • Type exit to let system restart
  • Press F12 and Boot from Onboard Network Controller
  • Press F12 to continue
  • Select “Microsoft Windows Longhorn setup (x86)” and press enter
  • Click Next to start the WDS wizard
  • Enter the domain administrator’s credentials and click OK
  • Highlight the Master Image and Click Next
  • Highlight Disk0 and Click Next – Installation will begin
  • After PC reboots the windows setup should appear click Next to begin
  • Select “Yes, I accept” to click Next
  • Enter the product Key and click Next
  • Enter Computer Name and click Next
  • Enter and confirm the local administrator password and click Next
  • Select No, don’t make this computer part of a domain and click Next
  • Click skip and slect No, not at this time and click Next
  • Click Finish
  • Once PC reboot confirm that you can logon to the desktop as a local administrator
  • Reboot in to the BIOS and disable Network PXE

You will be happy to know that its actually taking less than 30 mins to install a full image of Windows Professional Service Pack 3 along with all updates till 1st November 2009. 🙂 Here is a short video:

Issues:

PROBLEM: Not able to PXE Boot to WDS – “WdsClient: An Error occurred while starting networking: a matching network card driver was not hound in this image. Please have your Administrator add the Network driver for this machine to the Windows PE image on the Windows Deployment Services server.”

CAUSE: Boot Image missing network driver

RESOLUTION: Need to inject the network driver in the Windows PE image. I used the procedures at James Bannan’s article as given below:

PROBLEM: Not able to capture second image

CAUSE: Till now, I am not sure that what causes this.

Solution: In place of using WINPE image for capturing boot image, I used Longhorn one (modified with drivers in it and it started capturing the image to local drive (not tried for uploading to WDS directly, as it don’t work most of the time, coz don’t get IP Address or network card don’t get initialize due to same network driver issue)

PROBLEM: WinPE quiting with giving blank Error msg with OK

CAUSE: Somehow I came to figure out and the reason was simple, lesser ram. WinPE requires at least 512 MB of RAM, which means you need to have at least 512 MB RAM in PC, you are going to install Windows XP by WDS.

Solution: Although I come to read that this 512 MB check could be bypassed, if you are using unattended installation, then it is told to be solved by changing one entry in xml file, but as I have not got it succeed in my case, so can’t comment much on it.

https://nitishkumar.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/wds-client-reboot-issue/

 

Although its not a bug, but as pointed out by GuillaumeD’s blog, I got to know that  it could be trouble, if your default installation is not in \Windows Folder. Although most of us will not bother about such a situation as there might be more and more obvious issues, but still I would like to put the solution found by the author.

To provide to wdscapture.exe the folder name of your installation, you have to modify the wdscapture.inf located in the \Windows\System32 of the WDS Capture wim file.

  1. Imagex /mountrw X:\RemoteInstall\boot\x86\Images\wdscapture.wim 1 E:\Mount
    X: represents the volume on which the WDS system folder is stored
    E:\Mount is a temporary empty folder used to mount the WIM file
    x86 represents the target architecture of the WDS Capture wim
  2. Edit the file e:\mount\Windows\System32\wdscapture.inf
  3. Modify the value of SystemRoot :
    SystemRoot=W2k3
  4. Close the file wdscapture.inf (save the changes !)
  5. Unmount the WDS Capture wim : Imagex /unmount E:\mount /commit

How to use the available tools to modify Windows PE-based boot images:


This is a pretty important issue, because Windows PE is also used for the Windows Distribution System (WDS), Microsoft’s new software for deploying Vista across a large number of PCs via a network. Since WDS, by its nature, must work across various hardware platforms, it probably needs more drivers than the smallish set that comes with it.

Here’s how to get around the problem.

HOW TO: Inject Drivers into Windows PE 2.0

This tutorial assumes that you’re running Windows Deployment Services and want to update the default BOOT.WIM file to enhance platform compatibility, but the processes for injecting extra drivers into a WIM file are exactly the same for ANY WIM-based image.

You’ll need a full install of the WAIK, as it contains the necessary tools to manage WIM files. Note that its a download of more than 1GB. This can be done on any system, but if you’re running WDS it will install properly on the WDS server. Insert the DVD and select “Windows AIK Setup” and install WAIK.

WAIK InstallWAIK Install

Next you’ll need to create a folder to easily modify BOOT.WIM. I found it easiest to create a Temp folder, and then two more folders within that called Mount and Drivers. Then copy BOOT.WIM from the Vista DVD to the TEMP folder and rename it CUSTOMBOOT.WIM.

Now download the drivers you need, and extract them to \Temp\Drivers.

You’re not after DOS drivers – remember that this is Windows PE 2.0 so XP drivers are the best ones to use (or Windows Vista, if they’re available).

WinRAR is a great tool for extracting the contents of an EXE while maintaining the folder structure – this is very important as you need to be able to get at the INF driver files.

Once that’s done, go to the Start Menu, Microsoft Windows AIK, Windows PE Tools Command Prompt. This loads a command window with the PE tools IMAGEX, PEIMG and OSCDIMG loaded into the path, which makes life much easier.

PE Tools Command PromptPE Tools Command Prompt

Navigate to \Temp and type in:

imagex /info DRIVE:\Temp\customboot.wim

Where DRIVE is the appropriate drive letter. This checks the CUSTOMBOOT.WIM file and lists the images contained within it.

ImageX InfoImageX Info

There are actually two images, but the one we want is the Longhorn Setup image – number 2. Now type in:
imagex /mountrw DRIVE:\Temp\customboot.wim 2 DRIVE:\Temp\Mount


This mounts image 2 of CUSTOMBOOT.WIM into the \Temp\Mount folder in read/write mode. You can navigate to this folder and browse the contents and make any changes you like.

PE Tools - Mount ImagePE Tools – Mount Image

Now go back to the command window and type in:
peimg /inf=DRIVE:\Temp\Driver\FOLDER\*.inf /image=DRIVE:\Temp\Mount


Where FOLDER is the appropriate folder which contains the INF driver files. This injects the drivers straight into the mounted image. You can manually specify which driver is to be installed, or just use the wildcard to install all the drivers found in that folder. Repeat this process for all the drivers you want to install.

Once that’s done, type in:
imagex /unmount /commit DRIVE:\Temp\Mount
This unmounts the image from the \Temp\Mount folder and commits the changes you made. Do NOT forget the /commit statement or you’ll have to do the whole thing all over again. Not fun.

Now go back to the WDS console and right-click on the boot image, then select Disable. Right-click again and select Replace Image, then browse to \Temp\CUSTOMBOOT.WIM. This will replace the contents of BOOT.WIM with the updated CUSTOMBOOT.WIM. It doesn’t erase BOOT.WIM, and the boot image will still use the original file, but the extra drivers are now loaded into the Longhorn Setup image. Being able to replace the image means that you can maintain an offline master boot image, so you never need to directly work with the WDS boot image.

Unlike RIS where any such change required a restart of the service, WDS accepts this change on the fly. Connect your clients to the WDS server and they will use the updated setup image with the incorporated drivers.

At the end, I really want to thank Lucius Craig and James Bannan for their invaluable resources, which I am sharing with others now.

Cheers! WDS is ready to run now.  

Also check Rathenkomputindo’s Weblog. Could be very useful, if you are looking for screenshots.

photo of Nitish KumarNitish Kumar

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