Manage OS images with Configuration Manager

Applies to: System Center Configuration Manager (Current Branch)

OS images in Configuration Manager are stored in the Windows image (WIM) file format. These images are a compressed collection of reference files and folders use to install and configure a new OS on a computer. Many OS deployment scenarios require an OS image.

OS image types

You can use a default OS image, or build the OS image from a reference computer that you configure. When you build the reference computer, you add OS files, drivers, support files, software updates, tools, and applications to the OS. Then you capture it to create the image file.

Default image

The Windows installation files include the default OS image. This image is a basic OS image that contains a standard set of drivers. When you use the default OS image, use task sequence steps to install apps and make other configurations after the OS installs on a device. Locate the default OS image in the Windows source files: \Sources\install.wim.

Default image advantages

  • The image size is smaller than a captured image.

  • Installing apps and configurations with task sequence steps is more dynamic. For example, change the configurations and apps that install in the task sequence, without having to reimage the device.

Default image disadvantages

  • OS installation can take more time. The application installation and other configurations occur after the OS installation completes.

Captured image from a reference computer

To create a customized OS image, build a reference computer with the desired OS. Then install applications and configure settings. Capture the OS image from the reference computer to create the WIM file. Manually build the reference computer, or use a task sequence to automate some or all of the build steps. For more information, see Customize OS images.

Captured image advantages

  • The installation can be faster than using the default image. For example, applications can be preinstalled with the captured OS image. Then you don't need to install those same applications later by using task sequence steps.

Captured image disadvantages

  • The image size is potentially larger than the default image.

  • Need to create a new image when you require updates for applications and tools.

Add an OS image

Before you can use an OS image, add it to your Configuration Manager site.

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, go to the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and then select the Operating System Images node.

  2. On the Home tab of the ribbon, in the Create group, select Add Operating System Image. This action starts the Add Operating System Image Wizard.

  3. On the Data Source page, specify the following information:

    • Network Path to the OS image file. For example, \\server\share\path\image.wim.

    • Extract a specific image index from the specified WIM file and then select an image index from the list. Starting in version 1902, this option automatically imports a single index rather than all image indexes in the file. Using this option results in a smaller image file, and faster offline servicing. It also supports the process to Optimize image servicing, for a smaller image file after applying software updates.

      Note

      Configuration Manager doesn't modify the source image file. It creates a new image file in the same source directory.

      This extraction process can fail for extremely large image files, for example over 60 GB. The DISM error is Not enough storage is available to process this command. The command line that Configuration Manager uses is in the smsprov.log and dism.log. Manually run the same command and then import the image.

    • Starting in version 1906, if you want to pre-cache content on a client, specify the Architecture and Language of the image. For more information, see Configure pre-cache content.

  4. On the General page, specify the following information. This information is useful for identification purposes when you have more than one OS image.

    • Name: A unique name for the image. By default, the name comes from the WIM file name.

    • Version: An optional version identifier. This property doesn't need to be the OS version of the image. It's often your organization's version for the package.

    • Comment: An optional brief description.

  5. Complete the wizard.

For the PowerShell cmdlet equivalent of this console wizard, see New-CMOperatingSystemImage.

Next, distribute the OS image to distribution points.

Distribute content to distribution points

Distribute OS images to distribution points the same as other content. Before you deploy the task sequence, distribute the OS image to at least one distribution point. For more information, see Distribute content.

Apply software updates to an image

Note

This section applies to both OS images and OS upgrade packages. It uses the general term "image" to refer to the Windows image file (WIM). Both of these objects have a WIM, which contains Windows installation files. Software updates are applicable to these files in both objects. The behavior of this process is the same between both objects.

Each month there are new software updates applicable to the image. Before you can apply software updates to it, you need the following prerequisites:

  • A software updates infrastructure
  • Successfully synchronized software updates
  • Downloaded the software updates to the content library on the site server

For more information, see Deploy software updates.

Apply applicable software updates to an image on a specified schedule. This process is sometimes called offline servicing. On this schedule, Configuration Manager applies the selected software updates to the image. It can then also redistribute the updated image to distribution points.

Important

While you can select any software update that's applicable to the image based on version, DISM can only apply certain types of updates to the image. The OfflineServicingMgr.log file shows the following entry: Not applying this update binary, it is not supported.

The site database stores information about the image, including the software updates that were applied at the time of the import. Software updates that you apply to the image since it was initially added are also stored in the site database. When you start the wizard to apply software updates, it retrieves the list of applicable software updates that the site hasn't yet applied to the image. Configuration Manager copies the software updates that you select from the content library on the site server. It then applies the software updates to the image.

Servicing process

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, go to the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and then select either Operating System Images or Operating System Upgrade Packages.

  2. Select the object to which to apply software updates.

  3. On the ribbon, select Schedule Updates to start the wizard.

  4. On the Choose Updates page, select the software updates to apply to the image. It may take some time for the list of updates to appear in the wizard. Use the Filter to search for strings in the metadata. Use the System architecture drop-down list to filter on X86, X64, or All. You can select one, many, or all updates in the list. When you're finished selecting updates, select Next.

  5. On the Set Schedule page, specify the following settings, and then click Next.

    1. Schedule: Specify the schedule for when the site applies the software updates to the image.

    2. Continue on error: Select this option to continue to apply software updates to the image even when there's an error.

    3. Update distribution points with the image: Select this option to update the image on distribution points after the site applies the software updates.

  6. Complete the Schedule Updates Wizard.

Note

To minimize the payload size, the servicing of OS upgrade packages and OS images removes the older version.

Servicing operations

In the Configuration Manager console, in either the OS Images or OS Upgrade Packages node, add the following columns to the view:

  • Scheduled Updates Date: This property shows the next schedule that you've defined.
  • Scheduled Updates Status: This property shows the status. For example, Successful or In Process.

Select a specific image object, and then switch to the Update Status tab in the details pane. This tab shows the list of updates in the image.

Select a specific image object, and select Properties in the ribbon. The Installed Updates tab shows the list of updates in the image. The Servicing tab is a read-only view of the current servicing schedule and the updates that you've scheduled to apply.

When the status is In Process, you can select Cancel Scheduled Updates on the ribbon. This action cancels the active servicing process.

To troubleshoot this process, view the OfflineServicingMgr.log and dism.log files on the site server. For more information, see Log files.

Specify the drive for offline OS image servicing

Starting in version 1810, specify the drive that Configuration Manager uses during offline servicing of OS images. This process can consume a large amount of disk space with temporary files. This option gives you flexibility to select the drive to use.

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, go to the Administration workspace, expand Site Configuration, and select the Sites node. In the ribbon, click Configure Site Components and select Operating System Deployment.

  2. On the Offline Servicing tab, specify the option for A local drive to be used by offline servicing of images.

By default, this setting is Automatic. With this value, Configuration Manager selects the drive on which it's installed.

If you select a drive that doesn't exist on the site server, Configuration Manager behaves the same as if you select Automatic.

During offline servicing, Configuration Manager stores temporary files in the folder, <drive>:\ConfigMgr_OfflineImageServicing. It also mounts the OS image in this folder.

Optimized image servicing

Starting in version 1902, when you apply software updates to an OS image, there's a new option to optimize the output by removing any superseded updates. The optimization to offline servicing only applies to images with a single index.

When you schedule the site to apply software updates to an OS image, it uses the Windows Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) command-line tool. During the servicing process, this change introduces the following two additional steps:

  • It runs DISM against the mounted offline image with the parameters /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase. If this command fails, the current servicing process fails. It doesn't commit any changes to the image.

  • After Configuration Manager commits changes to the image and unmounts it from the file system, it exports the image to another file. This step uses the DISM parameter /Export-Image. It removes unneeded files from the image, which reduces the size.

Microsoft recommends that you regularly apply updates to your offline images. You don't have to use this option every time you service an image. When you do this process each month, this new option provides you the greatest advantage by using it over time. For more information, see Recommendations for Install Software Updates step.

While this option helps reduce the overall size of the serviced image, it does take longer to complete the process. Use the wizard to schedule servicing during convenient times. It also requires additional storage on the site server. You can customize the site to use an alternate location. For more information, see Specify the drive for offline OS image servicing.

Process to optimize image servicing

  1. Start the servicing process.

  2. On the Set Schedule page, select the option to Remove superseded updates after the image is updated. This option isn't automatically enabled. If the image has more than one index, you can't use this option.

  3. To schedule image servicing, complete the wizard.

Validate and monitor the process using the OfflineServicing.log.

Prepare the OS image for multicast deployments

Use multicast deployments to allow more than one computer to simultaneously download an OS image. The image is multicast to clients by the distribution point, rather than each client downloading a copy of the image from the distribution point over a separate connection. When you choose the OS deployment method to Use multicast to deploy Windows over the network, configure the OS image to support multicast. Then distribute the image to a multicast-enabled distribution point.

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, go to the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and then select the Operating System Images node.

  2. Select the OS image that you want to distribute to a multicast-enabled distribution point.

  3. On the Home tab of the ribbon, in the Properties group, select Properties.

  4. Switch to the Distribution Settings tab, and configure the following options:

    • Allow this package to be transferred via multicast (WinPE only): Select this option for Configuration Manager to simultaneously deploy OS images using multicast.

    • Encrypt multicast packages: Specify whether the site encrypts the image before it's sent to the distribution point. If the image contains sensitive information, use this option. If the image isn't encrypted, its contents are visible in clear text on the network. Then an unauthorized user could intercept and view the image contents.

    • Transfer this package only via multicast: Specify whether you want the distribution point to deploy the image only during a multicast session.

      If you select Transfer this package only via multicast, you must also specify the task sequence deployment option to Download content locally when needed by the running task sequence. For more information, see Deploy a task sequence.

  5. Select OK to save the settings and close the image properties.