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how can I multicast an Image in Windows Deployment Services (Windows Server 2008)


This guide assumes that you have first setup WDS in Windows Server 2008 and then configured it to deploy Windows Vista Service Pack 1. In addition, you'll need to capture an install image to be used as the multicasting transmission image.


What is multicasting ?


Multicasting is the ability to deploy an image to multiple clients without putting overhead on the network. When you create a multicast transmission, the image is sent over the network only once (when the server has completed the image file broadcast, it starts over from the beginning). Clients can join the broadcast at any time during the transfer, if they miss anything they can simply wait until the file or part of the image is transmitted again.


It's explained very nicely here and I quote


The key advantage of multicast is of course allowing multiple computers to receive a communication simultaneously. The sender (the WDS server) sends the information to be communicated only once. Each client must then listen to the entire communication from begin to end to receive it. Since all clients are specifically listening to one network address simultaneously, the benefit is twofold: enhanced deployment speed since the network is less congested with multiple clients performing the same task; and decreased network saturation since every client is listening to the single stream


What do I need to set it up ?


As mentioned already at the beginning of this guide, you'll need the Windows Server 2008 setup and configured for WDS and you'll need at least one install image on it that you want to transmit in the multicast (use WDS to create a Capture image, then capture an image, that image will be used as the Install image for multicasting later...).


In addition, you'll need the Boot.wim file from the Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista with SP1 DVD. If you use the boot.wim file from the Windows Vista DVD (ie: the original release) then you will NOT be able to join a multicast transmission.


You'll also need router hardware capable of supporting multicasting, and you must confirm that Internet Group Membership Protocol (IGMP) snooping is enabled on all devices (If IGMP snooping is turned off, multicast packets are treated as broadcast packets, and will be sent to every device in the subnet.)


How can I create a multicast transmission ?


In the Windows Deployment Services mmc, right click on Multicast Transmissions in the left pane and choose Create Multicast Transmission




When the wizard appears, give the transmission a friendly name and click on next





Next you will get the option to select the image group and image from your predefined image groups (I had three predefined groups, WDS Vista SP1 captures, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1).




To get Multicasting to work I had to use the WDS Vista SP1 captures install image (it was a sysprepped image as defined in this howto)




You will now have to choose which type of multicast transmission you want, Auto-cast or Scheduled-cast.

Auto-Cast. This option indicates that as soon as an applicable client requests an install image, a multicast transmission of the selected image begins. Then, as other clients request the same image, they too are joined to the transmission that is already started.



Scheduled-Cast. This option sets the start criteria for the transmission based on the number of clients that are requesting an image and/or a specific day and time. If you do not select either of these check boxes, the transmission will not start until you manually start it..


In this example, we will choose Auto-cast.





Once done, you are shown a summary of your actions




Now we will add a boot Image from our Windows 2008 Server DVD or Windows Vista Sp1 DVD.


In the WDS mmc, right click on Boot Images and choose Add boot image




point the wizard to your boot.wim file in the Sources folder on your Windows Vista Service Pack 1 DVD (or Windows Server 2008 DVD).




the default Image name and Image description are meaningless and we need to change them




change them to suit the image type you chose earlier.




review the summary and click finish to add the image




clicking finish again will now list the new boot.wim image in your WDS boot images pane on the right hand side.




At this point, you need to PXE boot your client computers to the server.


You will have two choices to make, the first is the boot image (as defined in boot images in WDS mmc) and the second is Install image (as defined in the install images in WDS mmc)


here is an outline of the PXE process:-


pressing F12 to pxe boot to the server, once connected you'll see the Windows Boot Manager menu


It listed three choices for me


Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 Ultimate - Multicast

Microsoft Windows Longhorn Setup (x86)

CAPTURE an image (WDS)


the choices are defined in the boot images section of WDS mmc.


I chose the first option


After Windows PE boots up, the Install Image needs to be selected, and as part of that process you'll see that you have to do as follows:-


choose local/keyboard layout

login to your domain

select the image (I selected the image called multicast-install-image which I created earlier by capturing a sysprepped Vista sp1 image in WDS)

you'll be asked where do you want to install windows, then

'waiting for server' will appear briefly (waiting for the Multicast transmission)


a regular PXE boot to a WDS server for a non multicast transmission would simply pull down the image one computer at a time, thereby adding to the load on the server and the network, with Multicast, the server broadcasts the image once and all clients have to 'join in' on that transmission, if they miss it (or part of it) then they have to wait until the transmission starts again (kind of like a round about)



finally you can verify the progress in the WDS MMC gui in the Multicast Transmission properties (refresh with F5)




done !


For further reading on this subject, see Microsoft's technet material or this blog

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I am recieving an error when I try to boot to my Multicast image.

I used the boot.wim file from Server 2008 disk. ver 6.0.6001


Error reads as follows:


WdsClient: An error occurred while starting networking. Please have your Administrator add the network driver for this machine to the Windows PE image on the Windows Deployment Services server.


I'm am attempting to boot an HP DC7900 Small Form Factor, with Intel 1000 (82567LM-3)


Do you have anything to describe how to add the network driver?




William J.

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Thanks Anyweb.


I found a boot.wim that the dc7900 will boot from. (Windows 7 Professional)


However, When we select the image we have set up for multicasting. It doesn't appear to want to wait. It simply begins the image process . No indication that it is connecting to multicast session.


Any thoughts as what may be wrong?


Thanks for help in advance.


William J


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whats the last thing you see on the screen ? any error ?


i press f12 and then it boots into dos pxe it grabs an ip address and connects to server and i press f12 to continue then thatss it .. black dos screen with a blinking cursor... (so it doesnt reach the menu boot list dos screen) this tends to happen when there is more then are 2 or clients trying to connect to the server...

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