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  1. The SmartDeploy Media Wizard enables you to quickly build boot media that includes a custom answer file. When you create boot media with an answer file it is stored at the root of your SmartPE media (CD or USB) as SmartDeploy.xml. This answer file has several important items that you may want to modify on the fly including:

    1. .WIM file being deployed
    2. Platform Pack (.ppk) being selected

    Windows Deployment Services (WDS) compatible image files are a good companion for a custom answer file because of the number of questions involved in the setup process. One method I have found that works well is using a free virtual CD daemon to modify the SmartDeploy.xml file on my SmartPE ISO images. You can have separate SmartPE media for each image path or platform pack variation. However, most would probably agree that it is more desirable to have different answer files (SmartDeploy.xml) and quickly swap them out as needed.

    Download your virtual CD daemon of choice. I like PowerISO. The unregistered version will allow you to create or edit image files less than 300MB which works effectively for WinPE ~204MB. This program allows me to quickly mount my SmartPE media and view the SmartDeploy.xml file.

    poweriso.png

    If you want to edit the answer file. Simply copy the file to your desktop. Edit the parameters to match the path to the platform pack and image file you need. Then copy the file back to the screen replacing the original file. You will have your new SmartPE ISO file with an updated SmartDeploy.xml as soon as you click save.

    Another useful idea is to use your mounted ISO to create a new deployment USB drive. Optionally, you can use the Media Wizard to perform this task. First, open SmartDeploy Enterprise Command Prompt. Then run the following commands:

    diskpart

    select disk 1

    clean

    create partition primary

    select partition 1

    active

    format quick fs=fat32

    assign

    exit

    xcopy V:\SmartPEiso\*.* /e f:\

    Note: where F:\ is the drive of your USB drive and V:\ is your virtual CD daemon drive.

    Remember, you can edit the SmartDeploy.xml file on your USB boot media that you have created quickly without needing to mount an ISO image. You may want to keep copies of various answer files that reference different paths to image files or platform packs on your network or WDS folders. If you name them logically (XP_answers, Win7_answers.xml) you will be able to swap out answer files on the fly in either the ISO or USB SmartPE media you are using.

    Enjoy IT,

    Aaron Lines

    IT Consultant

  2. SmartDeploy 1.1.1920 introduced a new feature that allows the user to create an automated answer file with ease. In this short blog I’m going to explain how this new feature works.

    1. Boot to SmartPE and select Deploy an image.

    2. Select Next to proceed to the Welcome to the Deploy Wizard page.

    3. Proceed through the Deploy Wizard as you normally would, and proceed to the Summary page.

    1.jpg

    4. To create an unattended installation, please check For use as an unattended installation. This option attaches the <deploy_wizard mode="Unattended"> tag in your answer file so you do not have to manually edit your answer files anymore for unattended installs. Quick and easy!

    5. Select Export and save your answer file.

    6. Open SmartDeploy’s Media Wizard and proceed to the Optional Components page.

    7. Browse to your unattended answer file that you saved in the above steps.

    2.jpg

    8. Complete the Media Wizard as you normally would, and create your media.

    9. Boot from your newly created media and you will notice a countdown. Once this countdown is done, your unattended install will start.

    3.jpg

    If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us. You can download SmartDeploy here.

  3. In order to successfully deploy the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with SmartDeploy, you'll need to use SmartDeploy version 1.1.5010 or later.

    Additionally, this UEFI Class 3 device automatically adds a BCD firmware entry for any present bootable USB media on each boot. This means that even with the UEFI "Alternate System Boot Order" set to "SSD Only", the machine will still boot to a bootable USB device on each boot.

    Therefore when deploying the machine via offline USB media, the machine would reboot back to SmartDeploy once the image had been applied and the machine rebooted for the first time. Not only is this not desired, but it causes an issue with the deployment if you then remove the USB stick, reboot the system, and let the deployment continue.

    To this end SmartDeploy 1.1.5010 adds an additional Deploy Wizard advanced feature to shutdown the machine when the Deploy Wizard ends. By selecting this, it will provide a chance to remove any bootable media, and then power on the machine. The deployment will then continue and complete successfully.

    5010DW[1].png

    If you use PXE boot either from the USB dongle adapter or the dock, and there is no USB boot media present, then you can let the machine reboot as normal.

    If you have any issues, please contact us at SmartDeploy Support.

  4. In SmartDeploy Version 1.1.1980 we have added additional regional setting support to the Language/Culture drop down in the Deploy Wizard, as well as an advanced answer file change for more granular control.

    Additional Language/Culture Listings:

    In previous versions of SmartDeploy we only had Language/Culture support for the main language packs and language interface packs offered by Microsoft. This led to some confusion when wanting to use a specific language, say English, with a standard locale, like United Kingdom. In version 1980 you will now see a more comprehensive list of Language/Culture pairings when deploying languages. You can find a full list of Language/Culture pairings here.

    Custom Language/Culture Support:

    We have also added a new section to the SmartDeploy answer file that will give you the option to specify a custom set of UI Language, System Locale, User Locale, and Input Locale much like you would see in the unattend.xml that is created from Windows System Image Manager. This obviously requires the use of an answer file during deployment. The additional settings will give users the ability to specify any standard locale code (i.e. en-US, 0409, or English (United States)) for any of the four options above. To use this setting you will need to edit the SmartDeploy.xml answer file that is being used with deployment. Examples below.

    Standard regional settings in answer file:

     

    		<regional_settings>
    			<time_zone>(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US and Canada)</time_zone>
    			<input_locale>English (United States)</input_locale>
    		</regional_settings>
     

     

    Extended regional settings in answer file:

     

    		<regional_settings>
    			<time_zone>(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US and Canada)</time_zone>
    			<input_locale>
                                    <ui_language>en-US</ui_language>
                                    <system_locale>en-US</system_locale>
                                    <user_locale>en-US</user_locale>
                                    <input_locale>en-US</input_locale>
                            </input_locale>
    		</regional_settings>
     

     

    As you can see you will need to add nested nodes for each of the four regional settings under the default <input_locale> node. This will cause the Deploy Wizard to use what is entered in the answer file rather than a standard region that is defined in the wizard itself.