Manage boot images with System Center Configuration Manager

Applies to: System Center Configuration Manager (Current Branch)

A boot image in Configuration Manager is a Windows PE (WinPE) image that is used during an operating system deployment. Boot images are used to start a computer in WinPE, which is a minimal operating system with limited components and services that prepare the destination computer for Windows installation. Use the following sections to manage boot images.

Default boot images

Configuration Manager provides two default boot images: One to support x86 platforms and one to support x64 platforms. These images are stored in: \\servername>\SMS_<sitecode>\osd\boot\<x64> or <i386>. The default boot images are updated or regenerated depending on the action that you take.

Consider the following for any of the actions described in the following sections:

  • The source driver objects must be valid, including the driver source files, or the drivers will not be added to the boot images on the site.
  • Boot images that aren’t based on the default boot images, even if they use the same Windows PE version, will not be modified.
  • You must redistribute the modified boot images to distribution points.
  • You must recreate any media that uses the modified boot images.
  • If you do not want your customized/default boot images automatically updated, do not store them in the default location.

Note

The Configuration Manager Trace Log Tool is added to all boot images that you add to the Software Library. When you are in Windows PE, you can start the Configuration Manager Trace Log Tool by typing CMTrace from a command prompt.

Use updates and servicing to install the latest version of Configuration Manager

Beginning in version 1702, when you upgrade the Windows ADK version and then use updates and servicing to install the latest version of Configuration Manager, Configuration Manager regenerates the default boot images. This includes the new Window PE version from the updated Windows ADK, the new version of the Configuration Manager client, drivers, customizations, etc. Custom boot images are not modified.

Prior to version 1702, Configuration Manager updates the existing boot image (boot.wim) with the client components, drivers, customizations, etc. but will not use the latest Windows PE version from the Windows ADK. You must manually modify the boot image to use the new version of the Windows ADK.

Upgrade from Configuration Manager 2012 to Configuration Manager Current Branch (CB)

When you upgrade Configuration Manager 2012 to Configuration Manager CB by using the setup process, Configuration Manager will regenerate the default boot images. This includes the new Window PE version from the updated Windows ADK, the new version of the Configuration Manager client, and all customizations remain unchanged. Custom boot images are not modified.

Update distribution points with the boot image

When you use the Update Distribution Points action from the Boot Images node in the Configuration Manager console, Configuration Manager updates the target boot image with the client components, drivers, customizations, etc.

Beginning in Configuration Manager version 1706, you can choose to reload the latest version of Windows PE (from the Windows ADK installation directory) in the boot image. The General page of the Update Distribution Points wizard provides information about the Windows ADK version installed on the site server, the Windows ADK version from which Windows PE was used in the boot image, and the version of the Configuration Manager client. You can use this information to help you decide whether to reload the boot image. Also, a new column (Client Version) has been added when you view boot images in the Boot Images node so you know what version of the Configuration Manager client each boot image uses.

Customize a boot image

You can customize a boot image, or Modify a boot image, from the Configuration Manager console when it is based on a Windows PE version from the supported version of Windows ADK. When a site is upgraded with a new version and a new version of Windows ADK is installed, custom boot images (not in the default boot image location) are not updated with the new version of Windows ADK. When that happens, you will no longer be able to customize the boot images in the Configuration Manager console. However, they will continue to work as they did before the upgrade.

When a boot image is based on a different version of the Windows ADK installed on a site, you must customize the boot images by using another method, such as using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) command-line tool that is part of the Windows AIK and Windows ADK. For more information, see Customize boot images.

Add a boot image

During site installation, Configuration Manager automatically adds boot images that are based on a WinPE version from the supported version of the Windows ADK. Depending on the version of Configuration Manager, you might be able to add boot images based on a different WinPE version from the supported version the Windows ADK. An error occurs when you try to add a boot image that contains an unsupported version of WinPE.

The following provides the supported version of Windows ADK, the Windows PE version on which the boot image is based that can be customized from the Configuration Manager console, and the Windows PE versions on which the boot image is based that you can customize by using DISM and then add the image to Configuration Manager.

  • Windows ADK version

    Windows ADK for Windows 10

  • Windows PE versions for boot images customizable from the Configuration Manager console

    Windows PE 10

  • Supported Windows PE versions for boot images not customizable from the Configuration Manager console

    Windows PE 3.11 and Windows PE 5

    1 You can only add a boot image to Configuration Manager when it is based on Windows PE 3.1. Install the Windows AIK Supplement for Windows 7 SP1 to upgrade Windows AIK for Windows 7 (based on Windows PE 3) with the Windows AIK Supplement for Windows 7 SP1 (based on Windows PE 3.1). You can download Windows AIK Supplement for Windows 7 SP1 from the Microsoft Download Center.

    For example, when you have Configuration Manager, you can customize boot images from Windows ADK for Windows 10 (based on Windows PE 10) from the Configuration Manager console. However, while boot images based on Windows PE 5 are supported, you must customize them from a different computer and use the version of DISM that is installed with Windows ADK for Windows 8. Then, you can add the boot image to the Configuration Manager console. For more information with the steps to customize a boot image (add optional components and drivers), enable command support to the boot image, add the boot image to the Configuration Manager console, and update distribution points with the boot image, see Customize boot images.

    Use the following procedure to manually add a boot image.

To add a boot image

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Software Library.

  2. In the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and then click Boot Images.

  3. On the Home tab, in the Create group, click Add Boot Image to start the Add Boot Image Wizard.

  4. On the Data Source page, specify the following options, and then click Next.

    • In the Path box, specify the path to the boot image WIM file.

      The specified path must be a valid network path in the UNC format. For example: \\<servername\<sharename>\<bootimagename>.wim.

    • Select the boot image from the Boot Image drop-down list. If the WIM file contains multiple boot images, select the appropriate image.

  5. On the General page, specify the following options, and then click Next.

    • In the Name box, specify a unique name for the boot image.

    • In the Version box, specify a version number for the boot image.

    • In the Comment box, specify a brief description of how the boot image is used.

  6. Complete the wizard.

    The boot image is now listed in the Boot Image node of the Configuration Manager console. However, before you can use the boot image to deploy an operating system you must distribute the boot image to distribution points, distribution point groups, or to collections that are associated with distribution point groups.

Note

When you select the Boot Image node in the Configuration Manager console, the Size (KB) column displays the decompressed size for each boot image. However, when Configuration Manager sends a boot image over the network, it sends a compressed copy of the image, which is typically much smaller than the size listed in the Size (KB) column.

Distribute boot images to a distribution point

Boot images are distributed to distribution points in the same way as you distribute other content. In most cases, you must distribute the boot image to at least one distribution point before you deploy an operating system and before you create media.

Note

To use PXE to deploy an operating system, consider the following before you distribute the boot image:

  • The distribution point must be configured to accept PXE requests.

    • You must distribute both an x86 and an x64 PXE-enabled boot image to at least one PXE-enabled distribution point.
    • Configuration Manager distributes the boot images to the RemoteInstall folder on the PXE-enabled distribution point.

    For more information about using PXE to deploy operating systems, see Use PXE to deploy Windows over the network.

For the steps to distribute a boot image, see Distribute content.

Modify a boot image

You can add or remove device drivers to the image or edit the properties associated with the boot image. The device drivers that you add or remove can include network adapters or mass storage device drivers. Consider the following factors when you modify boot images:

  • You must import and enable the device drivers in the device driver catalog before you can add them to the boot image.

  • When you modify a boot image, the boot image does not change any of the associated packages that the boot image references.

  • After you make changes to a boot image, you must update the boot image on the distribution points that already have the boot image so that the most current version of the boot image is available. For more information, see Manage content you have distributed.

    Use the following procedure to modify a boot image.

To modify the properties of a boot image

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Software Library.

  2. In the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and then click Boot Images.

  3. Select the boot image that you want to modify.

  4. On the Home tab, in the Properties group, click Properties to open the Properties dialog box for the boot image.

  5. Set any of the following settings to change the behavior of the boot image:

    • On the Images tab, if you have changed the properties of the boot image by using an external tool, click Reload.

    • On the Drivers tab, add the Windows device drivers that are required to boot WinPE. Consider the following when you add device drivers:

      • Select Hide drivers that do not match the architecture of the boot image to only display only drivers for the architecture of the boot image. The architecture is based on the architecture reported in the .INF from the manufacturer.

      • Select Hide drivers that are not in a storage or network class (for boot images) to only display storage and network drivers, and hide other drivers that are not typically needed for boot images, such as a video driver or modem driver.

      • Select Hide drivers that are not digitally signed to hide drivers that are not digitally signed.

      • As a best practice, add only NIC and Mass Storage Drivers to the boot image unless there are requirements for other drivers to be part of WinPE.

      • Because WinPE already comes with many drivers built in, add only NIC and Mass Storage Drivers that are not supplied by WinPE.

      • Make sure that the drivers that you add to the boot image match the architecture of the boot image.

      Note

      You must import device drivers into the drivers catalog before you add them to a boot image. For information about how to import device drivers, see Manage drivers.

    • On the Customization tab, select any of the following settings:

      • Select the Enable Prestart Commands check box to specify a command to run before the task sequence is run. When prestart commands are enabled, you can then specify the command line that is run, whether support files are required to run the command, and the source location of those support files.

        Warning

        You must add cmd /c to the start of the command line. If you do not specify cmd /c, the command will not close after it runs. The deployment continues to wait for the command to finish and will not start any other configured commands or actions.

        Tip

        During task sequence media creation, the task sequence writes the package ID and prestart command-line, including the value for any task sequence variables, to the CreateTSMedia.log log file on the computer that runs the Configuration Manager console. You can review this log file to verify the value for the task sequence variables.

      • Set the Windows PE Background settings to specify whether you want to use the default WinPE background or a custom background.

      • Select Enable command support (testing only) to open a command prompt by using the F8 key while the boot image is deployed. This is useful for troubleshooting while you are testing your deployment. Using this setting in a production deployment is not advised.

      • Configure the Windows PE scratch space, which is temporary storage (RAM drive) used by WinPE. For example, when an application is run within WinPE and needs to write temporary files, WinPE redirects the files to the scratch space in memory to simulate the presence of a hard disk. By default, WinPE allocates 32 megabytes (MB) of writeable memory.

    • On the Data Source tab, update any of the following settings:

      • Set Image path and Image index to change the source file of the boot image.

      • Select Update distribution points on a schedule to create a schedule for when the boot image is updated.

      • Select Persist content in client cache if you do not want the content of this package to age out of the client cache to make room for other content.

      • Select Enable binary differential replication to specify that only changed files are distributed when the boot image package is updated on the distribution point. This setting minimizes the network traffic between sites, especially when the boot image package is large and the changes are relatively small.

      • Select Deploy this boot image from the PXE-enabled distribution point if the boot image is used in a PXE-enabled deployment.

        Note

        For more information, see Use PXE to deploy Windows over the network.

    • On the Data Access tab, select any of the following settings:

      • Set the Package share settings if you want clients to install the content in this package from the network.

      • Set the Package update settings to specify how you want Configuration Manager to disconnect users from the distribution point. Configuration Manager might be unable to update the boot image when users are connected to the distribution point.

    • On the Distribution Settings tab, select any of the following settings:

      • In the Distribution priority list, specify the priority level that you want Configuration Manager to use when multiple packages are distributed to the same distribution point.

      • Select Distribute the content for this package to preferred distribution points if you want to enable on-demand content distribution to preferred distribution points. When this setting is enabled, the management point distributes the content to all preferred distribution points when a client requests the content for the package and the content is not available on any preferred distribution points.

      • Set the Prestaged distribution point settings to specify how you want the boot image to be distributed to distribution points that are enabled for prestaged content.

        Note

        For more information about prestaged content, see Prestage content.

    • On the Content Locations tab, select the distribution point or distribution point group and perform any of the following actions:

      • Click Redistribute to distribute the boot image to the selected distribution point or distribution point group again.

      • Click Validate to check the integrity of the boot image package on the selected distribution point or distribution point group.

    • On the Optional Components tab, specify the components that are added to Windows PE for use with Configuration Manager. For more information about available optional components, see WinPE: Add packages (Optional Components Reference).

    • On the Security tab, select an administrative user and change the operations that they can perform.

  6. After you have configured the properties, click OK.

Configure a boot image to deploy from a PXE-enabled distribution point

Before you can use a boot image for a PXE operating system deployment, you must configure the boot image to deploy from a PXE-enabled distribution point.

To configure a boot image to deploy from a PXE-enabled distribution point

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Software Library.

  2. In the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and then click Boot Images.

  3. Select the boot image that you want to modify.

  4. On the Home tab, in the Properties group, click Properties to open the Properties dialog box for the boot image.

  5. On the Data Source tab, select Deploy this boot image from the PXE-enabled distribution point.

    Note

    For more information, see Use PXE to deploy Windows over the network.

  6. After you have configured the properties, click OK.

Configure multiple languages for boot image deployment

Boot images are language neutral. This allows you to use one boot image that will display the task sequence text in multiple languages, while in WinPE, if you include the appropriate language support from the Windows PE Optional Components and set the appropriate task sequence variable to indicate which language can be displayed. The language of the operating system that you deploy is independent from the language that is displayed when in WinPE, regardless of the Configuration Manager version. The language that is displayed to the user is determined as follows:

  • When a user runs the task sequence from an existing operating system, Configuration Manager automatically uses the language configured for the user. When the task sequence automatically runs as the result of a mandatory deployment deadline, Configuration Manager uses the language of the operating system.

  • For operating system deployments that use PXE or media, you can set the language ID value in the SMSTSLanguageFolder variable as part of a prestart command. When the computer boots to WinPE, messages are displayed in the language that you specified in the variable. If there is an error accessing the language resource file in the specified folder or you do not set the variable, messages are displayed in the WinPE language.

    Note

    When the media is protected with a password, the text that prompts the user for the password is always displayed in the WinPE language.

    Use the following procedure to set the WinPE language for PXE or media-initiated operating system deployments.

To set the Windows PE language for a PXE or media-initiated operating system deployment

  1. Verify that the appropriate task sequence resource file (tsres.dll) is in the corresponding language folder on site server before you update the boot image. For example, the English resource file is in the following location: <ConfigMgrInstallationFolder>\OSD\bin\x64\00000409\tsres.dll.

  2. As part of your prestart command, set the SMSTSLanguageFolder environment variable to the appropriate language ID. The language ID must be specified by using decimal and not hexadecimal. For example, to set the language ID to English, you would specify a decimal value of 1033 instead of the hexadecimal value of 00000409 used for the folder name.