This discussion focuses on the process of using the deployment packs on Dell business client systems. Topics will include deploying to Microsoft® Windows® XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, and Microsoft Windows 7 using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) 2007 and driver management best practices. With the Dell Client Systems Deployment cab, an I/T Administrator can perform the following
tasks:

  • Use Microsoft Windows OS-based Plug and Play (PnP) enumeration capabilities to install drivers for applicable devices.
  • Create a system-level optimized deployment sequence.
  • Set up an appropriate boot control sequence.
  • Optimize the deployment of targeted system-specific driver packages.

Special guest expert, Warren Byle moderates the discussion.

Technical Community - Background Reading

Chat Transcript

Dell-ScottH Alright, seems like a quorum. Let's get it started. Welcome everyone to this week’s installment of the TechTuesday chat. This week we will cover the Dell Driver Pack for OS deployment with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). Joining us today to lead the chat is Warren Byle from the Dell IT team, along with help from some other folks as well. Reminder: this chat is recorded, and you can view the transcript tomorrow and click any links you may have missed. Right-click links here to avoid a possible early exit from the chat session. :-) If that happens, simply select Action, Recent Room History on the toolbar to catch up. This is a very informal medium, so please feel free to ask questions at any time. With that, Warren, how about a little background on yourself and anyone else that's helping out and then lead right into it
warren_byle Hi all. My name is Warren Byle, and I work on the Systems Managment and User-Centric Solutions team at Dell along with Greg Ramsey, Donnie Taylor, and a bunch of other cool folks. My role is to work with our product group to implement new systems within Dell, and I get the job of managing our driver store for client deployment through ConfigMgr. I'm going to ask Greg to throw in links to the Dell TechCenter documents regarding the driver cabs when he gets a chance
Dell-ScottH Greg is great at throwing stuff!
ramseyg Will do in a few :) stand by :)
warren_byle I can go over some of the basics of the driver cabs, or you can shoot your questions
Dell-ScottH I'd start with the basics; many are new to the topic
ramseyg Here's the landing page for the deployment .cab files: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+business+client+operating+system+deployment
warren_byle Okay, here's a quick overview of what the cabs provide The driver cabs are collected by model and stripped down to only the plug-and-play components that ConfigMgr can consume. You can use them in several ways with your OS deployments using ConfigMgr. You can import them into the ConfigMgr driver store so that you can have higher visibility of what drivers are where, or you can leave them in a folder and apply them during the task sequence without importing them
BryanWeaver What are the advantages and disadvantages of importing versus task sequence?
warren_byle Good question. Importing them provides you with more data on what drivers are where, and with some operating systems you will need to import NIC and mass storage drivers for OS deployment to work. Not importing them makes them easier to manage. You simply drop the new driver cab in the source location and update your driver package
Paul Are the cab files accessible by anyone or are credentials required?
ramseyg If you plan to use Auto Apply Drivers, you have to import them
warren_byle I don't think credentials are required. At Dell we don't use Auto Apply Drivers because you can't manage which drivers are applied to which models
ramseyg No, they're Free! Link to cabs here: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+business+client+operating+system+deployment+-+the+.cab+files
Paul_m Can you import any drivers into the driver store, or do we actually have to use the ones from the Dell Driver Pack Web site? I have several Latitude 2100 Netbooks that have been ordered and was wondering if I can OS deploy those as well?
ramseyg You can also get them directly from our FTP site here: ftp://ftp.dell.com/sysman/
warren_byle Our best practice is to use the Apply Driver Package function and use Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) queries to control which driver packages get deployed to which systems. The Dell driver cabs are for specific business client models at this time, but you can import any drivers you like into the driver store. The cabs save you all the time of downloading and importing the drivers one by one
BryanWeaver What about reboots that are required? I know from experience that manually installing drivers requires reboots after each one most of the time. Is this lessened?
marcdhoore Yes
Paul_m Gotcha
marcdhoore I did a 960 XP today in 14 minutes
warren_byle Reboots are handled by the OS deployment task sequence. The driver cabs are designed for ConfigMgr, but there is no reason someone who needs to manually install drivers couldn't use them. I'd like to hear some more feedback from anyone that is using the cabs. What do you like? What don't you like?
ramseyg You can also use the driver cabs with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010, and Windows Deployment Services (WDS) 2008 R2
marcdhoore I used them for the first time today. Very slick
Joe When it comes to XP and mass storage drivers how do you know which driver and model to use in the task sequence?
ramseyg @marcdhoore, you used them for the first time today, and took 14 minutes? Not too bad!
marcdhoore www.delltechcenter.com/page/operating+system+deployment+-+xp+mass+storage+driver+reference
marcdhoore That is the link to the mass storage. It took about 30 minutes to get the drivers downloaded, imported, and packaged
warren_byle I need to update that to make sure the latest drivers are referenced, but it should help you out
ramseyg @marcdhoore, how much time do you think you saved by using the .cab file for the 960, compared to the old fashioned way?
marcdhoore Mucho. We were using “fat” imaging
Joe Lol
marcdhoore The clean XP with the driver package is pretty slick
ramseyg Also, if you're looking to download a specific driver .cab, you can go to http://support.dell.com, and search for drivers for a model. You will find the .cab in the Systems Management section, named Driver Pack
Paul_m I use the cabs; I was a little confused about the older driver cabs because I had an older driver cab, A00, and found a new one, A02. Is it alright to just delete the old cabs from the Driver section and import the newer ones? Might be a silly question, but I read something—can’t remember where—that once you import the drivers it takes up space on SQL database and cannot be removed. Is this true?
marcdhoore Pardon my ignorance, is there sound with this chat?
Paul_m @marcdhoore, nope
marcdhoore Okay
ramseyg That's a good point, Marcdhoore, it is pretty slick. There may be some administrators out there that are using a fat image, attempting to inject all drivers into their base image. Using dynamic driver injection in ConfigMgr is much easier to manage and maintain
Joe @marcdhoore, there is sound with this chat (@paul_m). Top of this chat window > Options > Sounds
warren_byle You can remove imported drivers from the driver store
ramseyg @paul_m, yes, just remove them properly through the ConfigMgr admin console, and it will clean up for you. (Side note: ConfigMgr SP2 actually allows you to do a multi-select to delete multiple drivers at one time) :)
Paul_m Nice, thanks Greg
Joe @ramseyg, that feature helped a lot. I hated using a VBScript to delete hundreds of imported drivers when I only needed to delete 20 of them.
warren_byle Here at Dell we have to support about 50 client models, so the driver cabs have made it much easier to manage the drivers, and ConfigMgr with WMI queries makes it very easy to put the correct driver package on the right model
ramseyg The .cab files will update as needed on a quarterly basis, so if that model of system has had driver updates in the past quarter, you will see a new version of the driver .cab (A03, for example)
Joe SP2 allows me to select more than one at a time to delete. Awesome!
marcdhoore I whacked our entire first try at importing Dell drivers and started a reorganization with the cabs
Paul_m Can we chat about the correct way to set up categories?
marcdhoore It didn't bark at me
ramseyg One of the big value adds I see is how *easy* it is to add support for a new Dell model to your standard image process. For example, say you have a Windows 7 build in ConfigMgr already, and your company decides to purchase some shiny new Latitude E6400 laptops. All you need to do is download and import the driver cab, and make a new Apply Driver Package for that model—here's a sample Vista walk-through: www.delltechcenter.com/page/deploy+windows+vista+to+the+dell+latitude+e6400+using+configmgr+operating+system+deployment
warren_byle You want to handle your categories very carefully if you are importing the drivers so that you can manage them. If you don't import, then you don't need to worry about categories
ramseyg @paul_m, good question. And you'll probably get a unique answer from each of us :)
Paul_m Lol
Paul First time here. Can someone tell what has to be done to revisit this chat tomorrow or later to capture the links?
ceri Paul, transcripts are usually posted within a couple of days on the same page that you used to enter this chat
Paul Thanks
warren_byle Any driver cab wish list items? Like, "Man, I wish I had an XP driver cab for…?"
marcdhoore D600 Lol
BryanWeaver Are there separate cab files for 32 bit and 64 bit?
Dell-ScottH Transcript will be on the same link that got you here, and posted before end of day tomorrow
warren_byle They are in the same cab, different folders
Paul_m The way I do categories, I don’t know if this is right or not, but I set a driver package with all the drivers imported, let’s say for a Latitude e6400 laptop running XP on an x86 platform. I set categories to be Latitude, e6400, XP, and x86. Is that correct?
ramseyg Also, a side note: when you're deploying a model and applying drivers, you may want to see if an application called Dell System Software is available—example here: www.delltechcenter.com/page/installing+dell+system+software
warren_byle @paul_m, the general rule of thumb for categories is be as descriptive as possible. It sounds like you are doing that
ramseyg @paul_m, that's definitely a nice way to keep them organized. Some people use Auto Apply Drivers and filter based on categories; should you choose to use that, you may want to do it like: Latitude, E6400, XP, x64…
Paul_m Can you explain the Manifest.xml, driverarchivemanifest.xsd? Because I usually drill down to the x86 directory and import all the x86 drivers separate from the x64
marcdhoore Yes, please that was on my question list
ramseyg Those are used with the new Dell Client Deployment Pack :) (hold on, I'll find a link)
dhedges I'd like to see driver cabs for the previous series of systems such as the Latitude D630 and Latitude D430 laptops and OptiPlex 755 desktop
warren_byle The manifests are very valuable to those who don't import the drivers. It provides the documentation that you would have in the driver store if you imported them.
marcdhoore When one extracts the cabs, it would be nice if the folder they extracted to was Model_OS instead of just model: “960_XP” or “960_7,” etc.
ramseyg DCDP is fairly new; we don't have a page on the Dell TechCenter yet, but we hope to soon. :) Here's a link to the download: <ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>
ramseyg DCDP is currently only supported with ConfigMgr SP1; they're working on the release to support SP2. Basically, it allows you to import the driver .cab from within the ConfigMgr GUI; it has a similar look to the Dell Server Deployment Pack: www.delltechcenter.com/page/using+the+dell+deployment+pack+for+configmgr
Paul_m Nice, I will have to look at it
warren_byle One quick note, as you review the Dell TechCenter pages, please comment on them if you have questions, and we'll get back in touch with you that way
Joe @marc, they are labeled by the following structure: Platform/os/architecture ex. 760/win7/x86
ramseyg DCDP also supports the Dell Client Configuration Toolkit (CCTK), which we chatted about a couple of weeks ago here: www.delltechcenter.com/page/11-24-09+dell+client+configuration+toolkit+%28cctk%29
Juerg The driver .cab files are really great for new OS installations; no other hardware vendor has a better solution, yet. But, for the already deployed machines, it would be really great if the System Center Software Update Publisher (SCUP) catalogs were updated more frequently
Paul_m Yes, I remember; great information guys
ramseyg @dhedges, if you're looking for additional models, please inform your Dell account executive...more votes count!
Paul_Goodson Is their any kind of driver versioning in the Dell Deployment Pack/cab files?
ramseyg Juerg, the SCUP catalog is updated pretty frequently. I'm thinking every couple of months, but will need to verify
warren_byle The version inside the cab uses the same R number notation that is used by individual drivers. The cabs themselves have versioning
ramseyg FYI: update catalog info here: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+updates+catalogs
Paul_m So basically if you install your OS with older drivers SCUP will go out there and update the drivers you missed; am I correct in that assumption?
Paul_Goodson Thanks, Warren. What is the best way to keep track of when the latest version cab is released for the different models?
warren_byle Dell TechCenter and/or http://support.dell.com
ramseyg You can use the update catalog to detect and deploy updates to drivers, and apply them just like security patches in ConfigMgr. Here are a couple of chat links: www.delltechcenter.com/page/12-09-08+dell+software+updates+catalogs+and+microsoft+system+center+configuration+manager+%e2%80%93+part+1 and www.delltechcenter.com/page/12-16-08+dell+software+updates+catalogs+and+microsoft+system+center+configuration+manager+%e2%80%93+part+2
BryanWeaver Is there a way to automatically get notified when a new cab version is available?
Paul_Goodson Thanks, Greg. Can this be done during deployment? Perhaps at the end of the task sequence?
ramseyg @paul_goodson, you can watch this page at the Dell TechCenter—we try to update it regularly :) www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+business+client+operating+system+deployment+-+the+.cab+files: we are working with product teams to get a more formalized notification and subscription process
Paul_Goodson I'll test it in my lab this afternoon. Not a big deal.
ramseyg @paul_goodson, yes, you can, but it's slightly tricky. To use the SCUP catalog during OS deployment you have to deploy the Dell OpenManage Inventory Agent first, and give that some time to bake. Then install software updates. I recommend installing the OpenManage Inventory Agent right after the OS comes up the first time. Then do some other stuff (with a reboot in there), followed by “install software updates”
Paul_Goodson Okay, thanks for that tip
ramseyg @paul_goodson, the biggest challenge with that is that the OpenManage Inventory Agent updates on a fairly regular basis, so you'll have to watch for that, and update your task sequence
Paul_Goodson The OpenManage Inventory Agent is a free tool as well?
ramseyg @paul_goodson, it's part of the SCUP catalog. It will be the first thing that shows applicable to a system (as far as Dell updates are concerned). Normally, you approve it, let it install using software updates, and then the next time a scan occurs, it will pick up applicable and installed status for the rest of the Dell updates
Paul_Goodson Great
ramseyg So, for drivers, what else do you guys want to see in the future?
Paul_m Windows 7 Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) 3.0 driver cab?
marcdhoore World peace
Paul_m Which I know is coming...
Paul_Goodson Do the cab files still use the extra file type trick to import duplicate drivers so that the duplicate drivers are imported for models that have the same drivers?
ramseyg @paul_m, good question. I will say, I don’t think we've had to add any drivers to Windows 7 WinPE yet, have we Warren?
warren_byle No we haven't added anything to WinPE for Windows 7 yet
Paul_m Nice, so my experience was an isolated incident?
warren_byle @paul_goodson, yes, we are adding a .dat file to fix the duplicate fail import issue
ramseyg So all our mass storage and NIC stuff has been working so far in WinPE 3.0 without needing anything extra :)
warren_byle Yep!
Paul_Goodson Is their a possible way around this in the future? My central site is devoting a lot of storage to drivers
Dell-KongY Time sure does fly when we get great questions and answers!
Paul_Goodson Obviously, we need to work on standardizing our hardware
warren_byle We combine similar cabs together to reduce duplicates
ramseyg @paul_goodson, you could send a design change request to Microsoft :)
Dell-KongY I want to thank Warren and Greg for sharing their time and expertise
ramseyg @paul_goodson, or you could do it without importing the drivers, and just use Apply Driver Package; have you seen that feature yet?
Dell-KongY Thanks to all the participants for your questions and sharing your experience
Paul_Goodson It would be easier to buy more storage.... Hmmm... If only I knew a company that could sell me more storage for my servers :)
marcdhoore The driver cabs and instructions proved to be very helpful. Thanks
ramseyg Thanks everyone. Please keep sending us your feedback! You can contact your Dell account executive, or drop a comment on the Dell TechCenter here: www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+business+client+operating+system+deployment
Dell-KongY Again, the transcript of today's chat will be available some time tomorrow, so don't worry if you missed a link or a conversation
Dell-KongY Thanks again, Buckeye Nation: Warren and Greg :)
Paul_m So, all in all it is better to not import the drivers and create an Apply Driver Package?
ramseyg @paul_m, it depends :)
Paul_Goodson That depends. Ha ha
warren_byle Apply Driver Package...definitely! Import or not is up to you
Paul_m Okay because all I ever did was import the drivers, add them to the package, and then for the mass storage just reference the same package that held the mass storage drivers or NIC
ramseyg I must admit, I'm starting to like not importing them at all. That makes it much easier when a new rev of the driver package is released
Paul_m Hmmm
warren_byle If you want to leverage the stand-alone media option in ConfigMgr, you will have to use Apply Driver Package
Paul_Goodson @paul_m, it will also depend on what OS your deploying if you do Apply Driver Package or Auto Apply Drivers
Paul_Goodson To some extent anyways... Thanks for answering my questions, Greg and Warren
Paul_m Yes, thank you
ramseyg Thanks everyone for attending!
Dell-JeffS Thank you!