Dell Client Best Effort Data Cloud for imaging solutions

Dell Client Best Effort Data Cloud for imaging solutions





Summary: Follow the guidelines in this article for troubleshooting Data Cloud for Imaging Solutions.


Table of Contents:

  1. What you need to know to successfully image a system with an operating system
  2. Various Imaging Solutions and Techniques

What you need to know to successfully image a system with an operating system

Dell Support has been troubleshooting customer image problems for quite some time to varying degrees of success. This article provides a better idea of what Dell Support will handle and what should go to paid services such as Image Management Services (IMS) or other third party imaging services.

Example of a top call driver

The Windows 7 ISO is booted to but is not able to detect storage hardware due to missing drivers in the boot image (the boot image must be prepared before being used): (See Figures 1 & 2)

Windows install driver load prompt
Figure 1 - Windows install driver load prompt

Windows PE Driver load prompt

Figure 2. - Windows PE Driver load prompt

What caused Windows 7 installs to fail on Skylake systems?

  • Intel released a new chipset named Skylake that lacks physical USB 2.0 hardware; at the same time a new technology in storage called Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) was released.
  • Windows 7 for example uses Pre-Boot Environment (PE) 3.0 which is not compatible with Skylake hardware or NVMe storage hardware unless the PE is updated with the proper patches / drivers. (See Figure 3.)

Skylake boot environment technology
Figure 3. - Skylake boot environment technology

  • The traditional model of storage controller requires several interlocking components to function.
  • The advancement of technology allows NVMe flash media based drives to directly communicate with the operating system via drivers.
  • Some operating systems need adjustments to work with this new architecture properly (Windows 7 primarily).

Summary of the image process:

  • System is instructed to boot from a device
  • Boot image loads
  • Boot image loads drivers to access storage / networking
  • System Image is loaded to storage hardware
  • Drives are combined into system image
  • System image boots
  • System image loads drivers to access storage / networking

Below is a diagram of how the imaging process works: (See figure 4.)

  • When the system boots, it will search for the proper boot image on Network, USB, or DVD
  • Once the Boot Image loads, it will search for the proper Boot Drivers to get access to the Network, USB, or DVD that it booted from (otherwise the boot process will fail)
  • If the boot process succeeds, the system image will be located and then combined with the proper system drivers and then loaded to the Solid State Drive (SSD) / Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
  • If the system drivers are correct, the system will be able to get access to load the storage controller, network, USB, and / or DVD to finish the imaging process.

Summary of the image process
Figure 4. - Summary of the image process

UEFI Basics:

The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI ) is the next generation interface between the operating system and platform firmware. It replaces the antiquated legacy Basic Input/Output System (BIOS), that has been around for years. The UEFI standard was created by the UEFI consortium which consists of over 140 technology companies. UEFI was developed to allow support for new technologies during the booting process before the operating system loads. It is based on the EFI 1.10 specification that was originally published by Intel.

BIOS has significant limitations as it relates to modern hardware. It is limited to only 16-bit processor mode and 1 MB of addressable memory. UEFI on the other hand supports either 32-bit or 64-bit processor mode and can access all of the system’s memory. BIOS uses a Master Boot Record (MBR) for the disk partitioning scheme, whereas UEFI uses a newer partitioning scheme called GUID Partition Table (GPT) which overcomes certain limitations of MBR. UEFI is able to support disk sizes greater than 2 TB.

BIOS/UEFI disk partitioning:

Default BIOS/MBR Disk Partitions (See Figure 5.)

Default BIOS/MBR Disk Partitions
Figure 5. - Default BIOS/MBR Disk Partitions

Default UEFI/GPT Disk Partitions (See Figure 6.)

Default UEFI/GPT Disk Partitions
Figure 6. - Default UEFI/GPT Disk Partitions

There are also several security benefits to running UEFI over BIOS on Windows 10 systems. Secure Boot: protects the pre-boot process against root kits/boot kits and requires no additional configuration (other than switching it on once the system is running UEFI). Once enabled, only signed boot loaders will be able to run. Other advantages of UEFI that your end users will appreciate is faster startup times, faster shutdown times, faster sleep times and faster resuming times compared to BIOS based systems.

Lastly, some other key Windows 10 security features that require UEFI are: Credential Guard, Device Guard, Early Launch Anti-malware driver and Measured Boot. With the amount of attacks and data breaches happening today’s age, now is the time to get as secure as possible and take advantage (or at least put your environment in a position to take advantage) of all the security features that Windows 10 offers.

What does UEFI mean for imaging?

  • UEFI allows the system to boot faster and employ more security for the operating system, but this can create more complexity.
  • UEFI should be used if possible for greater compatibility with newer Operating Systems and hardware advancements (See Figure 7.).

Using UEFI instead of Legacy Mode for Windows 7
Figure 7. - Using UEFI instead of Legacy Mode for Windows 7

Figure 8. below is an example of a properly formatted UEFI device; the BIOS will not boot to (or show a device) in the UEFI boot list unless the file "Bootx64.efi" can be located under the EFI\Boot directory of a FAT32 formatted device:

On a hard drive the typical OS partition is formatted for NTFS but there is a System partition that will be formatted FAT32 to allow the BIOS to locate the Bootx64.efi file that allows booting to Windows:

UEFI BIOS requires a clear FAT32 partition to boot.
Figure 8. - UEFI BIOS requires a clear FAT32 partition to boot.

Example of where the bootx64.efi file will be located on a USB stick when made correctly (See Figure 9.):

Where the bootx64.efi file will be located on a USB stick
Figure 9. - Where the bootx64.efi file will be located on a USB stick

One Time Boot Menu Basics:

Below is what the system presents when the F12 key is pressed at POST (some boot options may not be displayed depending on different factors): (See Figure 10.)


Figure 10. - UEFI Boot Menu

Notes on BIOS operation:

  • UEFI BIOS requires a FAT32 formatted partition to boot to.
  • Using UEFI is suggested in most cases (instead of Legacy mode).
  • UEFI requires 64-bit boot images to be used on 64-bit processors.
  • Windows 7 requires Legacy Option ROMs to be Enabled (even if using UEFI).
  • Windows 7 requires Secure Boot to be Disabled.
  • For USB Type-C NIC: If the system has a BIOS POST Behavior/Fastboot option, this should be set to THOROUGH to boot to a USB Type-C NIC
  • For USB: If boot mode is set to UEFI, Select UEFI: USB PMAP (under UEFI).
  • For USB: If boot mode is set to Legacy, Select USB Storage Device (under Legacy).
  • For NIC: UEFI Network Stack must be enabled for UEFI PXE boot to be available (IPV4 / IPV6).
  • For NIC: If boot mode is set to UEFI, Select Onboard NIC (IPV4) (under UEFI).
  • For NIC: If boot mode is set to Legacy, Select Onboard NIC (under Legacy).
  • For NIC: Some PXE boot installs require Secure Boot to be Disabled.

Example: Legacy and UEFI Boot Mode images have different characteristics and will only fit in the proper Boot Mode: (See Figure 11.)

Legacy boot mode versus UEFI Boot Mode
Figure 11 - Legacy boot mode versus UEFI Boot Mode

In this example the system is set to UEFI mode with Secure Boot OFF (Best for Windows 7 as it does support UEFI but does not support Secure Boot): Either Select Onboard NIC IPv4 for PXE over UEFI or UEFI: USB (for FAT32 formatted USB keys): (See Figure 12)

BIOS is configured for UEFI with Secure Boot OFF
Figure 12. - BIOS is configured for UEFI with Secure Boot OFF

If the Boot mode is set to UEFI, make sure to use UEFI boot options, otherwise an "Operating System Not Found" (or similar) error message will appear after a re-image: (See Figure 13.)

Operating System Not Found” (or similar) error message will appear
Figure 13. - Operating System Not Found" (or similar) error message will appear

Try switching the boot mode to Legacy and reboot; the system may boot at that time (UEFI is still recommended).

Changing the boot mode from UEFI to Legacy:

Use the arrow keys to navigate to "Change Boot Mode Settings" and press Enter. (See Figures 14-17)

Change Boot Mode Settings
Figure 14 - Change Boot Mode Settings

  • The system will confirm three times before switching between UEFI and Legacy, do not use Secure Boot On unless prompted (Windows 8.1 / 10 only).
  • When you choose 1 and press Enter, you will need to select "YES" when asked if you wish to proceed, and then choose "Apply The Changes".

Changing boot mode, Secure Boot OFF
Figure 15 - Changing boot mode, Secure Boot OFF

Confirming the Boot Mode after change
Figure 16 - Confirming the Boot Mode after change

Final Confirmation of the change
Figure 17 - Final Confirmation of the change

  • If booting is still not successful, BIOS settings should be reviewed (examples are below):
  • Prior to replacing the hardware, have the customer verify that the HDD / SDD is working by checking the Device Information area in the BIOS.
  • It is also a good idea to verify that the customer has the optimal settings in the BIOS.

Optimal settings for imaging success in most environments: (See Figure 18)

  • If the HDD / SSD / M.2 drive model or serial number is visible here, drive is likely good (even if not visible to the Windows installer)
  • If the customer is attempting to PXE boot, make sure that UEFI Network Stack is enabled when using SCCM 2012 / MDT 2013.
  • If the customer is attempting to PXE boot, Legacy Boot Mode (UEFI Network Stack should be disabled) is used for SCCM 2007 / WDS Server 2008

Optimal settings for imaging success in most environments
Figure 18. - Optimal settings for imaging success in most environments

Legacy Boot Sequence:

This is how the Boot Sequence list appears in Legacy mode: (See Figure 19.)

NOTE: UEFI Options are disabled but any UEFI bootable device will be displayed at the boot menu.
  • Make sure that the M.2 PCIe-SSD or Internal HDD is higher in the list than the Onboard NIC
  • Disabling some of the boot options (other than the HDD / SSD) may be necessary.

How the Boot Sequence list appears in Legacy mode
Figure 19. - How the Boot Sequence list appears in Legacy mode

UEFI Boot Sequence:

This is how the Boot Sequence list appears in UEFI mode. (See Figure 20.)

  • Windows Boot Manager may only appear if Windows has been properly installed onto the SSD / HDD (there may be multiple copies of Windows Boot Manager).
  • UEFI boot mode requires a FAT32 partition with the file bootx64.efi present and readable by the BIOS at POST (usually located at EFI\boot\bootx64.efi).
  • UEFI formatted (FAT32) USB keys may not show up in the list if there is both a Windows Boot Manager and UEFI: Internal SSD present. You may need to use the Add Boot Option to manually add the key to the boot list.
  • Add Boot Option will only function if a recognized FAT32 partition (either on SSD or USB) is present.
  • Disabling some of the boot options (other than the HDD / SSD) may be necessary.

How the Boot Sequence list appears in UEFI mode
Figure 20. - How the Boot Sequence list appears in UEFI mode

Manually adding a UEFI Boot Option: (See Figure 21.)

In some cases, the USB key is correctly formatted to FAT32 but the BIOS may not allow a "3rd" boot option by default, you can manually add one by clicking Add Boot Option:

  • Make sure to select the USB device prior to clicking the browse (…) button.
  • Make note of what position the USB key is (File System 0 in this example).


Figure 21. - Manually adding a UEFI Boot Option

  • Make sure to select the proper File System (in the list before this screen (usually FS0:).
  • Browse to EFI\Boot\bootx64.efi to select the boot EFI file located on the USB key.
  • If you are unable to locate bootx64.efi, check the USB device. (See Figure 22.)


Figure 22. - Locate bootx64.efi

After rebooting, there should be a new option for "UEFI: USB Install" in the list to boot to.

If the customer is still unable to properly image the system, they have an existing imaging method, or are imaging multiple systems they can be referred to the Best Effort Cloud articles that have optimal configurations for various imaging platforms, otherwise IMS (Image Management Solutions) or other third party imaging solutions may need to assist them (at an additional cost).

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Various Imaging Solutions and Techniques

Best Effort Cloud

Welcome to the Best Effort Cloud, a repository of information that will provide the necessary information to successfully image Dell systems with various imaging techniques:

For more information on imaging Skylake systems and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) see the following article.

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Код статьи: SLN303864

Дата последнего изменения: 10/22/2019 01:43 PM


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