Monday, 21 December 2009

The blessing that is OSD++ (OSDPlusPlus)

If you're limited to MDT or you're having a hard time getting SCCM to accept information\variables prior to OS Deployment, OSD++ might be exactly what you need!

OSD++ can run from a Task Sequence after you've added it's source directory to a package, by including different XML files you can request information from the user and apply any changes to the registry or to the unattended file itself.

It can read from and to the registry as well as give you easy access to WMI information.

OSD++ offers a quick and easy way to get the computername or install software based on the spesific choices made by the user.
The users can either fill in a textbox, with or without Regular Expressions to control that the input is valid, or with listboxes.

The choices can be stored in a XML for future use, in the registry or in the unattended file the computer is about to use for OS Deployment.

All it really lacks is LDAP support though you can "cheat" your way to this by using Distributed Files Service and a "IF EXSIST" Batch script.

Try it by downloading it here (Documentation)
Read more at the OSD++ Blog

Graded: A-
Only needs a few more features to make it a Must-Have-Software for anyone without SCCM and most with.

Edit: New grade based on new experiences

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas Joy, Modena style!

It's been ages since I posted, but I come bearing good news!
While I was gone, Microsoft has released another RC of Modena, the soon to be essential tool in every Operating System Deploying SCCM Administrator out there.

So what's Modena?
Well in short it's an awesome extension of SCCM.
A better way to describe it is to say that it allows for administrators to design OS deployment, to add menus for optional application installations, exclude or require application installation, and much more based on a wide range of variables.

This will allow you and me to create a simple user interface for the end-user, allowing them to refresh or upgrade their OS to Windows 7 while ensuring that the hardware software gets installed and that the users apps and documents are present at first login.

What makes it really great is the ability to perform cancelations, with grace non-the-less!
Just check out the list of features for RC2 posted over at Technet

  • Enhanced Application support including Dependency, Exclusion, Locking, Filtering, and Topological Sorting
  • Application Discovery Pre-Flight
AppDiscovery runs as a pre-flight check in the OSD Setup Wizard and scans the local system for ConfigMgr software packages or MSI product IDs, and upon detection, marks them for re-install. AppDiscovery also honors any of the dependency and exclusion rules by ensuring that conflicting values do not break the wizard. AppDiscovery even supports deprecated software detection logic to allow “upgrades” to the latest version.
  • Powerful WMI Query Language (WQL) Support
Beyond application re-configuration, AppDiscovery also supports custom WMI query definitions to support almost end-less possibilities for administrators. Why support this functionality?
There are several scenarios where application delivery is dependent on hardware specific values, such as Manufacturer and Model Types.
Using WQL queries, an administrator can easily determine the Make & Model and set application delivery specifically for that model. In short, driver payload(s), OEM specific applications are deliverable only if the WQL query returns true otherwise the applications are not delivered.
  • Friendly, easy-to-understand, Results of OSD Imaging
  • Welcoming the Modena OSD Designer
The OSD Designer allows you, as an OSD administrator, to do the following:

  • Allows you to create new or update existing OSD Setup Wizard configuration files
  • Save configuration files locally or publish to the Modena Online Service
  • Enable or disable any OSD Setup Wizard pages
  • Enable or disable any page configuration fields (e.g. computer name, etc.)
  • Connect to Active Directory and setup Domains and Organizational Units in OSD Setup Wizard configuration files
  • Connect to System Center Configuration Site Servers and retrieve packages enabled for OSD
  • Attach x86 and x64 applications and configure dependencies, exclusions, and set application packages as required
  • Configure Application Discovery matching criteria for ConfigMgr packages and MSI product Ids
The OSD Designer is any OSD administrators 2nd favorite tool behind Configuration Manager console. It greatly simplifies your preparation for delivering operating system images using OSD.

  • Modena (Configuration for Wizard & AppDiscovery) Online Services
When new applications are released that update OSD apps, you have to manage this in the configuration for Application Discovery’s configuration to detect the updated version, package identification, or program name and do so a per-package level. This requires updates are done and then refreshed on all the DPs in your hierarchy with the package and this is cumbersome and prone to error.
  • Simplified Cancellation Functionality

The OSD task sequence and Wizard are now updated to support graceful cancellation. This improved functionality simplifies reporting and ensures the preferred user experience for end-users when they are not willing to continue the wizard. The difference between a failed task sequence (unknown root cause) is vastly different from an end-user who decides to cancel the wizard or doesn’t meet the requirements. This shuts the task sequence down gracefully and ensures to report the information accurately.
  • Quick and Easy Installation & Setup

Check out more here: