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windows server 2012

How To Install WDS (Windows Deployment Services) on Windows Server 2012 R2

This is the first in a three part series on “The Ultimate PXE Server Configuration.” PXE is the protocol that your network card can use to boot from the network. Having a good PXE server is a major need on every decently sized network or home lab. It’s really nice to never have to scrounge for a USB thumb drive or accumulate piles of burnt CDs that are only used once. All of those headaches can be avoided with a properly configured PXE server.

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and 2012 both include what’s called WDS. This stands for Windows Deployment Services. This is a network boot (PXE) environment that allows you to install all sorts of different Windows versions, all over the network. A network install of Windows 7 or 8 over a gigabit network takes just a few minutes. It’s insanely fast.

In the Linux world, the defacto standard for PXE is the SysLinux package. It’s excellent for installing various Linux distributions, hypervisors (like vmware and xen), and tools (such as gparted, AV software, and disc cloning utilities). It even supports Windows installations, sort of. But, it’s quite a hassle.

In a perfect world, we would just combine both of these so that we can use WDS to take care of the Windows installations, and use SysLinux to handle linux installations, tools, and everything else. Well, guess what? You can, and that’s exactly what were going to to do in this series. The first post, the one you’re reading, covers installing WDS on Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2. The second post will cover adding SysLinux to WDS. The third and final part will cover adding a ton of useful tools and installation sources. So, let’s get it started.

Installing WDS on Server 2012 R2

There are a few requirements for a WDS installation.

  • Active Directory – You need to run dcpromo on your WDS server to make it a domain controller if you don’t already have one already.
  • DHCP – It’s best to use Microsoft’s DHCP server, and like AD, I will be installing this service right along side WDS on a single server.
  • DNS – WDS needs DNS, which you will obviously have if you have a domain controller.
  • (Optional) Web Server – IIS will work well. Some packages install via http. This isn’t needed for Windows installation.
  • (Optional) NFS Server – The NFS Server role under file and storage services works well. This isn’t needed for Windows installation.

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How To Enable Data Deduplication In Windows Server 2012 On An Existing Volume

I have a very large RAID 6 array that is used to store movies, tv shows, personal files, and various other things. It’s formatted capacity is about 36TB. Believe it or not, it’s pretty much full. It currently consists of 20x2TB hard drives and I really don’t want to add any more drives to it in its current form. Later this year I’m planning on building a new array to replace it, using fewer 6TB or 8TB drives. The server that manages the array had Server 2008R2 installed. After getting down to the last few gigs of free space it dawned on me, why not install Server 2012 R2 and set up data deduplication. I’ve read some pretty impressive articles online, where people were able to reclaim up to 60% of their storage using the dedup mechanism in Server 2012. So, I went ahead and upgraded. I started poking around and it wasn’t very obvious enabling dedup, so I put this guide together to help you get started.

Enabling Deduplication in Server 2012 R2

First, we need to install the Data Deduplication service. It’s part of File and Storage Services. Open Server Manager, select Local Server in the left side pane, then go to the Add Roles and Features wizard, under Manage.

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Go through the first few windows, and when you get to Server Roles, you need to make sure Data Deduplication is selected, at minimum, under File and Storage Services. This is also a good opportunity to install any other roles or services you might be interested in.

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How to change the MTU in Windows Server 2008 & 2012

When I finally got a Windows Server 2012 image built and deployed on OpenStack, I started having some seriously squirrely problems with networking. I was able to ping and resolve DNS. I was even able to browse network shares on other servers that were well up the chain outside of the virtual environment, but I was unable to actually browse the internet from the Windows Server 2012 instance on OpenStack. I was having no issues with Linux based images.

I immediately suspected MTU as the culprit. I double check my neutron-dnsmasq.conf file to make sure the MTU was set at 1454, via DHCP configuration. It was. So, I checked the MTU settings on the Windows image and it was in fact 1500. For some reason the DHCP option was not having any effect on the Windows image. This is supposed to be addressed by the CloudBase VirtIO driver, allowing the MTU to be set via DHCP in OpenStack environments, but it obviously wasn’t working. You can check your MTU by doing the following:

 

Open an Administrator command prompt.

netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces

 

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This will show you your current MTU settings. Pay close attention to the Idx # of the ethernet interface. You will need this information to change the MTU. To change the MTU to 1454 use this command. (you will need to replace the “10” with the Idx for your ethernet interface)

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