The focus of this discussion is the Dell™ Client Configuration Toolkit (CCTK) software that provides scripted configuration capability to Dell Business Client Platforms, including Dell OptiPlex™ desktops, Dell Latitude™ laptops, and Dell Precision™ workstations.

Greg Ramsey moderates this chat that covers how to use the CCTK in stand-alone mode and in Microsoft® Windows® Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) for OS deployment.

Technical Community - Background Reading

Chat Transcript

ramseyg Howdy
Dell-ScottH There he is! The man of the hour
ramseyg Busy, busy, busy :)
Dell-ScottH Let me send out one last tweet to join now...and give it a couple minutes to bake
Dustin Tweet received
ramseyg Woo hoo—I'm over 400 followers now—tweet tweet :)
Dell-ScottH Twitastic!
erson Ramseyg, the obvious question: is Microsoft Windows 7 supported and if not, when will it be supported? :)
Dell-ScottH Oh man, can't even wait for the intro to the topic :-)
Dell-JeffS Hey Erson, Scott said you guys had talked about my attempt to recreate the Dell EqualLogic stuff thus far
erson Jeffs, heard you've been helping out?
Dell-ScottH Following now
Dell-JeffS I don't wanna hijack this chat though, will ping you in a few
erson Jeffs, yes, looking forward to it
Dell-ScottH Well this is a better turnout than I expected during Thanksgiving week; you must all be from across the pond :-)
Dell-ScottH Alright, welcome to this week’s chat on the Dell TechCenter. Welcome one and all; great to have you
IanCalhaem Greetings, this is a first-time user from New Zealand
dave Nope, I am a couple hours north of you, Scott
Dell-ScottH Today's topic is the Dell Client Configuration Toolkit (CCTK). Our host today is Greg Ramsey (ramseyg here and on twitter). Greg, anyone else joining you today?
Dell-ScottH Ian, great to have you as a newcomer
ramseyg No, just me today, as far as I know :)
Dell-ScottH Couple of quick tidbits. Ask questions at anytime. Greg will kick it off with an intro to the topic for those unfamiliar, along with a few links, and then we'll go where the wind blows. Chats are very informal, so jump in anytime. Don't be shy. So with that, Greg please take us on a 101 through the Dell Client Configuration Toolkit
ramseyg Thanks, Scott. Hi all!
Dell-ScottH Also, this chat is recorded, so come back any time to peruse the transcript and send to anyone who missed it
ramseyg Just a little background. I'm internal Dell IT. I'm one of the guys that managed the infrastructure with ConfigMgr. I do a bit with OS deployment for servers and workstations too. If you are familiar with the Dell OpenManage Deployment Toolkit (DTK), which is used on our Dell PowerEdge servers, the Client Configuration Toolkit (CCTK) will be very easy to pick up. First, what is the CCTK? It's a command-line utility that allows you to configure BIOS settings from within Windows
Dell-ScottH DTK information is here for anyone interested in that sidebar: 

<ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>

ramseyg We have a home page on the Dell TechCenter: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+client+configuration+toolkit
ramseyg Ah, there too.. :)
ramseyg From the Dell TechCenter page, you can link to documentation and examples of the tool. One of the best things about CCTK (IMHO) is that it's fully supported in Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE). With CCTK, you can both query and configure BIOS settings. First step is to download from the links above
baillard I haven't used the program yet, but if I remember correctly it is a one-way configuration? There is no way to dump the BIOS settings and save them before applying a new configuration?
Dell-ScottH Wikipedia will introduce you to WinPE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/windows_preinstallation_environment
ramseyg Once you have it installed, from a command line (with admin privs), run this command: cctk. It will display options that you can run
baillard Oops, just answered, you can query after all
ramseyg For example, if you want to see if fastboot is enabled in the BIOS, run this command: cctk --fastboot
baillard Remind people to right-click the links to open in a new window
ramseyg If you want to see if you can configure this setting, just run this command: cctk --help --fastboot
Dell-ScottH Can I dump everything to a file from a test machine, and then use that as input to the tool for hundreds of machines?
ramseyg Scott, yes! Let's go there
Dell-ScottH Oh yeah, some browsers have problems with URL links in the chat window. Right-click the links to avoid exiting the chat
ramseyg If you have a model system configured, and you want to apply those BIOS settings to 100 other systems, you can run this command: cctk -o c:\temp\my90biossettings.ini
ramseyg When you do this, it will dump the BIOS configuration to my90biossettings.ini. You can then take this file to each system, and run this command: cctk -i c:\temp\my90biossettings.ini
baillard What happens if the BIOS version isn't uniform across 100 machines?
ramseyg And that will import *supported* configurations
ramseyg @baillard, it will perform best effort
baillard -o for output, -i for input, I assume?
ramseyg Every now and then a newer BIOS adds functionality, such as adding c-state controls configuration
Dell-ScottH Yeah, what happens with settings that are in version x of a model, but not in version y of others, will it deploy the ones it can and ignore the others?
ramseyg If you did a -o (for output) on a system/BIOS that supported this configuration, but import on a system/BIOS that didn't, it would fail on that step, but apply the applicable settings. It's also important to note that you can apply one .ini to multiple models on purpose. For example, you could make an .ini with just: wakeonlan=enable
Dell-ScottH But if I'm a good systems administrator, I would have updated all the BIOS prior to applying the settings, correct? :-)
ramseyg And that will enable Wake-on-LAN (WOL) on all systems that it's supported. That's right, Scott, :) because we all love to update system BIOS :)
Dell-ScottH Oh, I love you rebooting my system in the middle of the day with no choice...that's your team, right? :-)
ramseyg Seriously, though, if you plan to update BIOS on 100 systems, you may want to look at Dell Client Manager, or Dell Client Configuration Utility (DCCU), or ConfigMgr, or several other tools (we can discuss more if you'd like)
baillard Dell's easy BIOS updates and straightforward Axx naming is one reason I keep buying Dell servers. I noticed the latest server BIOS upgrades drop the Axx versions :(
ramseyg Yes, Scott, we love rebooting your system. We try to wait until you're in the middle of an important presentation to do it though :)
ramseyg There are some interesting scenarios for using CCTK
erson Scotth, what’s the version number on the upcoming version of Repository Manager?
Dell-ScottH Erson, Repository Manager next version is 1.1, to drop in December
ramseyg One might be in an OS rebuild scenario. Say you're using ConfigMgr, or Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), or Altiris, or something else to build systems. You could: 1) embed CCTK into WinPE, so that you can configure the system BIOS before the OS is deployed. 2) simply run a command post-installation to configure BIOS
Paul_ I would like to read about that
ramseyg No user intervention is required
baillard One gotcha I always forget is to change the date and time; too bad Dell wouldn’t set the clock from factory based on the zip code it's being shipped to. Can the asset tag be set through CCTK, or is that setting outside BIOS?
ramseyg FYI, if you install CCTK local, you'll get the .pdf document; if you want to see the document first, you can get it on the Dell TechCenter: http://attachments.wetpaintserv.us/avs0or3n0zyuxf%2bobrgnbg%3d%3d764439
ramseyg Yes, you can set the asset tag from CCTK: cctk --asset="wootoff"
ramseyg Let's compare to a couple other tools, just to help you decide which is best for you
erson Ramseyg, did you see my Windows 7 question?
ramseyg CCTK, supported in WinPE, can run on a one-to-one scenario, which allows you to export/import all BIOS settings easily. DCCU allows you to make an .exe and run that on any system you desire—no additional files required: www.delltechcenter.com/page/enable+wake+on+lan+with+dccu
baillard Please repost the .pdf link; I'm getting an XML error message from the chat history version of the link
ramseyg Dell OpenManage Client Instrumentation (OMCI): you install the OMCI client, and then you can use VBScript or Windows PowerShell, or anything else you'd like, to query and make changes: www.delltechcenter.com/page/openmanage+client+instrumentation+%28omci%29
ramseyg To get to the .pdf, go here: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+client+configuration+toolkit and then select View the User Guide. FYI, you can also use CCTK to activate the Trusted Platform Module (TPM); it does require a little extra effort
ramseyg To activate TPM, you have to have a BIOS password set, and then enable TPM. Then reboot and activate TPM (and if you'd like, you can remove the BIOS password afterward)
Paul_ Just curious about the WinPE option, I'm using WinPE version 3.0, I believe, and I ran into a driver problem with the Dell OptiPlex 760 and the NIC drivers. Has anyone seen this issue? Or is my WinPE 3.0 version botched up? I use ConfigMgr. Is CCTK the best tool for this, or is DCCU a better fit for ConfigMgr?
ramseyg We are working on a white paper to help you activate TPM—it's in draft now—that should be available soon
ramseyg @paul_, good question, and something I hadn't mentioned yet
baillard Any similar utilities for the Dell Inspiron desktops that the executives had to purchase last year to get the latest goodies like Blu-ray?
ramseyg Currently, CCTK is not supported in WinPE 2.x. It's in the works now. Basically, that means you can't slipstream it into WinPE. You can, however, just copy the source files into WinPE (or map a drive while in WinPE), and run CCTK from there
ramseyg As for the drivers issue, I would be curious about that; we haven't had to add any NIC drivers to our WinPE 3.0 yet. (But that's a separate discussion; drop me an e-mail offline if you'd like to chat on it.)
Paul_ Okay
ramseyg As for the best tool, it depends on what you're doing. DCCU isn't supported in WinPE. DCCU can be great if you want to enable one or two configurations and blast to a bunch of systems. For example, enabling WOL
baillard Does WinPE 3 = Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) in Microsoft Windows Vista 2008 or Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2?
ramseyg But to apply a BIOS template, CCTK would probably be preferred, IMHO. You can even use CCTK to clear the chassis intrusion notification (instead of going into the BIOS to clear it)
ramseyg @baillard, they're somewhat different, as far as I know. WinRE is recovery, right? WinPE is a lightweight environment that enables you to apply .wim image files, etc. I believe WinRE uses WinPE, but WinPE is more generic (someone else here may have a better answer on that)
ramseyg Another word about OMCI, especially if you're a company that uses ConfigMgr, you install OMCI on your systems, and then you can modify inventory in ConfigMgr (sms_def.mof) to collection-desired configuration settings from the BIOS—can be pretty handy. And then if you want, you can send a simple VBScript to make the required configuration changes. You could also build something out in Desired Configuration Management (DCM), if you'd like
ramseyg Okay, back on topic...you can also use CCTK to modify boot order. There's also a forcepxeonnextboot command, which could be handy in a rebuild scenario
erson Nice. That could really be handy
ramseyg You can also reconfigure mass storage if you'd like. You can change to IIRT or AHCI mode as needed
erson I usually think that setting the boot hard drive as the first option is a good idea, both in regard to speedy boot and security
ramseyg Warning, you probably only want to do that in WinPE while you're rebuilding a system; reconfiguring your drive on the fly could lead to a bad day
erson Making such a forcepxeonnextboot could be nice when your going to do that upgrade to Windows 7
ramseyg @erson, I agree. CCTK makes it easier when you're working magic in WinPE too. Say, for example, you want to boot to USB a couple times, then switch to boot to hard drive. You could to that
ramseyg Yes, I agree
erson That is next week’s talk, right?
ramseyg Oh yeah, and for those of you that don't like the ambient light sensor, you can run this command: cctk --amblightsen=disable
ramseyg Or, if you just want to check the bios version, run this command: cctk --biosver
erson Best way to push out a BIOS upgrade?
ramseyg @erson, as always, it depends :)
Dell-ScottH Oh man, why didn't you just ask which is the best automobile :-)
erson Maybe you have already talked about that here (been chatting on the side with the geeks)
ramseyg If you have ConfigMgr, use the Dell hardware update catalog, or just standard software distribution. If you have nothing (but you have several systems to update), take a look at DCCU and at Dell Client Manager (DCM)
baillard I still have Dell OptiPlex GX260 and OptiPlex GX270 desktops in use; will CCTK work on these older systems?
erson Ramseyg, can I do that with the free version of the DCM?
Paul_ System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) software distribution with WMI filters for specific models?
erson Or do I need the beefier DCMs, which require me to pick up the corporate wallet?
ramseyg @baillard, I believe so. Our SME isn't online today to confirm, but I believe it will support anything that DCCU supports, and DCCU has been around for a while
baillard My hand gets slapped every time I reach for the corporate wallet :)
ramseyg @erson, yes, I believe you can do BIOS updates and configurations with the free DCM, but I'm not a DCM expert
ramseyg @paul, yes, that's another way to do it with SCCM (ConfigMgr), but instead of having a collection for each system, consider writing one task sequence with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) conditional statements based on models
erson Okay, need to try that with DCM. I have both the System Center Essentials (SCE) and SCCM available, so it doesn't really matter if it doesn't work with the free version
ramseyg And if you do have SCCM (ConfigMgr), take a look at the Dell update catalogs: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+updates+catalogs
ramseyg They enable you to use ConfigMgr to deploy BIOS and other hardware/firmware updates just like software updates in ConfigMgr. Also FYI, SCE supports the Dell update catalogs
Paul_ Ah, so it uses Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) as the update point for BIOS also
ramseyg SCE is for smaller companies, less than 500 client computers and less than 30 servers
baillard I have the client licenses for SCE (thanks to SA) but no server :(
erson Ramseyg, Microsoft is pushing MDT 2010 as the way to get people to update to Windows 7. It can be used with and without SCCM. It would be nice with a hardware pack with all the drivers that is ready to import into MDT 2010 if you don't have SCCM. I can't do that with the SCUP right?
ramseyg @erson, (off topic, but very worth talking about)
ramseyg We have these things called OS deployment cab files (or something similar to that) www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+business+client+operating+system+deployment
ramseyg These work very well in ConfigMgr, MDT 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, and any other OS deployment process that uses raw drivers. Download the win7.cab file for the model(s) you desire, import it into MDT 2010, and you'll be applying Dell-supported drivers in a jiffy! :)
erson Great! Sorry about the off-topic...got a bit carried away :)
ramseyg Now, for updating drivers after a system is deployed, we prefer you use the update catalogs (which actually use SCUP)
erson /Me just started playing with MDT 2010 /Me pokes Scotth
ramseyg Well, you're in luck; watch the Dell TechCenter—we're going to have a chat on the OS driver packs soon :)
ramseyg You can use CCTK in MDT 2010. BTW, in WinPE, and you can use it as a standard install application if you'd like. Any other questions?
baillard Gx260/270 supported?
erson Is there a practical reason why Dell doesn't support the Vostro with these utilities and update catalogs, or is just to differentiate the lines?
baillard I'd love Vostro support for my consulting jobs!
ramseyg @baillard, OptiPlex GX260 and OptiPlex GX270 supported for what? The driver .cab files? No fortunately :(, just newer stuff currently
baillard No for the CCTK. Sorry question wasn't clear
ramseyg @erson, if you want manageability, buy a Dell Latitude, Dell Precision, or Dell OptiPlex. Yes, as far as I know, it's a line differentiator
ramseyg Yes, CCTK should work on Gx260/270
erson Ramseyg, it really *** for the small and medium business (SMB) consultants
ramseyg @erson, sorry :( If you have a Dell account executive, be sure and let them know :)
erson We use Latitude laptops and OptiPlex desktops at the office, but we purchased the Vostro 17-inch laptops for our training rooms (where customers come and train)
baillard @erson, perhaps IdeaStorm too?
erson Yeah, good idea
ramseyg Yes, IdeaStorm is good as well
erson If the hardware isn't the reason why a model isn't supported, they should be supported—is pretty much my opinion
ramseyg There are a few differentiators between lines. I'm more of a systems management guy, so I can't speak to those well. One key difference is the BIOS
erson Yeah, can imagine that could be a problem
ramseyg If the Vostro was the same as a Latitude, wouldn’t we just call it a Latitude? :)
erson Or at least make it a lot more expensive to also support the Vostro with, for example, the CCTK
erson Latitude el cheapo perhaps :)
baillard The Inspiron 600M = Latitiude 600, you just had different BIOS versions
ramseyg @baillard, interesting
ramseyg But yes, just about all manageability stuff will be supported only on the large business lines (Latitude, OptiPlex, Precision)
erson Too bad that the business lines don't have an option for every Vostro model
erson Vostro 17-inch laptop is on my mind
Paul_ Basically, I could bypass CCTK altogether and set everything through Desired Configuration Manager (DCM) and have the BIOS updates through SCUP, but I’m sure that would be more of a setup process than just using CCTK right?
ramseyg @erson, yes
ramseyg @paul_, DCM in ConfigMgr currently only detects change; it doesn't allow you to set configuration, but to detect BIOS configuration changes with DCM most likely you would need to have OMCI installed
Paul_ Okay I haven’t played too much with DCM, if you can’t tell
ramseyg During deployment, the best way to make change to BIOS is with CCTK
erson I'm holding out for a DCM that supports Windows Server 2008 (R2 hopefully)
ramseyg If you want to make changes to BIOS after having systems deployed, then use CCTK or DCM—or if you have OMCI installed use it
Paul_ Gotcha
ramseyg If you want to update BIOS, then use normal software distribution, or with ConfigMgr you could also use the updates catalog to detect/deploy BIOS
ramseyg Anymore questions? If not, we'll wrap this one up :)
erson I'm out
Paul_ Thanks for your time, Greg
erson Yes, excellent job, Ramseyg
ramseyg Be sure to check back next week. My colleague, Donnie Taylor, will be talking about the Dell Lifecyle Controller and integration with ConfigMgr, which is some pretty neat stuff
erson Will be interesting for sure
ramseyg No problem, if you have anymore questions, just post them on the relative page on Dell TechCenter. We'll respond there
Paul_ I’ll wait for the tweet
ramseyg Thanks, all. Chat with you soon!
Paul_ Happy Thanksgiving everyone in the USA
IanCalhaem Thanks, all
erson Okay, bye guys. See you next week to talk about the Dell Lifecycle Controller with SCCM integration