Deploying OS Task Sequences Without PXE

No onboard LAN? No problem.

If you’ve had to deploy any laptops recently you’ll have noticed that it’s very difficult to find smaller (lower budget) devices with onboard LAN any more. We recently replaced two trolleys of laptops and the only choice to keep within budget was sacrifice the network port. While this isn’t a problem for their day to day use (as we have full site wireless coverage), when it comes to deploying and updating them… not so great. Well it’s MEMCM to the rescue again with bootable media.

If you have a look in Software Library\Operating Systems\Task Sequences, you may have noticed a button called “Create Task Sequence Media”. This will let us pick from a range of media types, in this case we are interested in the first two – Stand-alone media, and Bootable media. You’ll need a few USB pen drives handy, and make sure you insert the drive before launching the wizard or it’ll not appear as an available device.

As its name suggests, Stand-alone media will put the boot media and entire contents needed to install the task sequence onto a USB drive (or split over CD/DVD if you have to). However I’d rather not have a pile of USB drives with the entire task sequence on – what if I update the task sequence? Then I’d have to re-build all the USB drives.

Some of the boot media options. I always enable unknown computer support so I can deploy to brand new kit.

This leads us to the Bootable media option. You’ll need some USB network adapters for the client devices for this option to work. Run through the wizard, selecting the USB drive you want to use – I usually leave most of the other settings at their defaults. Finally you get to pick the boot image you want to use (this will be the same one configured in the task sequence properties\Advanced\Use a boot image) and the distribution point and management point.

Now boot up a device from the USB media, with a USB->Network adapter plugged in, and with any luck you’ll get any required or available deployments which have been made available to PXE and media.

If you’re unlucky and have a USB network adapter needing an unusual driver, simply import this in the usual way (Software Library\Operating Systems\Drivers) and make sure the driver gets applied to the boot image. You’ll then have to go through the wizard all over to put the new version of the boot image containing your network driver onto the USB drive.


2 Replies to “Deploying OS Task Sequences Without PXE”

  1. To help out anyone with USB to Network adapters, worked natively in the latest Windows PE image for me, also on the laptop I used this for (a Lenovo V15 (82C70005UK)) it managed to EFI PXE boot. Therefore I didn’t need a boot USB.

    Katy did inform me that you need to add the NIC into SCCM/MECM though to ensure this doesn’t get associated with the device you build if you are using this. The option can be found in Administration -> Overview -> Site Configuration -> Sites -> Hierarchy Settings button -> Client Approval and Conflicting Records tab. At the bottom there is a section for Duplicate hardware identifiers, you can use the Add button to type in a MAC address of the device.

  2. Just to note, on the Bootable Media option, if you are intending to use this to build machines with UEFI rather than Legacy BIOS, I have found you need to record this as an Optical Disc boot image (ISO) and then use a tool like Rufus to write the ISO to a USB in UEFI mode.

    I have a stubborn bunch of Dell OptiPlex 990’s which even with the latest BIOS version refuse to boot via PXE in UEFI mode, so needed to create a USB via the method above so it would connect to SCCM/MECM/MEMCM and deploy a UEFI image.

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