Boot WinPE without PXE

This is a post about using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit’s WinPE boot images without a network boot service.

Of course the easiest way to make MDT available is to upload it’s WinPE boot images to Microsoft Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and network boot (F12) into the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT).  But sometimes that’s not possible. In this case you can prepare a VM template with WinPE on drive C:  This will boot straight into WinPE ready to install an OS.

Create a virtual machine with the hardware configuration you want. For vSphere I use VMXNet nic, paravirtual SCSI, 2 vCPUs.

Add VMware drivers to MDT from the latest copy of VMware Tools. Install VMware tools on a VM and pull the drivers out of C:\Program Files\Common Files\VMware\Drivers. For WinPE you only need the SCSI and VMXNet Network drivers.

The process is

  • Boot from ISO
  • F8 from WinPE to get command prompt
  • partition disk (a small partition will do)
  • copy WinPE from CD drive D: to C:

To prepare the bootable partition on drive C: do the following:

select disk 0
create partition primary size=2000
select partition 1
robocopy d:\ c:\ mir
wpeutil shutdown

The above makes 2GB partition for winPE (partition will be blown away during MDT build process anyway)

Then remove CD from VM hardware settings (you won’t need this on deployed VMs)

Then convert VM to a template (admin rights in VMware Virtual Centre required)

You can then deploy VMs from template and they’ll boot into MDT for lite touch or zero touch deployment.


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