Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SCCM PXE OSD for tablets using external USB NIC adapter

At the client I'm working for at the moment one wants to deploy multiple Dell Venue Pro tablets. The problem, or challenge if you like :), with these devices is the lack of an onboard NIC. Luckily there are multiple suppliers who deliver USB to RJ45 adapters or dockings to overcome this problem. For Dell Venue Pro tablets you have to have a specific build type of this adapter which they write about here.

So once we have a valid USB to RJ45 adapter we are good to go for a PXE deployment. At this moment we only have 1 USB - RJ45 adapter and multiple tablets to deploy, so what to do?
Mark Morowczynski and Neil Potter wrote this very nice article How to Use The Same External Ethernet Adapter For Multiple SCCM OSD which is the basis of this blogpost. The article includes a script for managing deployment on multiple tablets with this single USB - RJ45 adapter.

Bottomline is that the MAC address which is assigned to the connector is unique, but if you deploy multiple devices with it, there wil be some mess in your SCCM database. So we need to ensure the tablet we deployed is registered in the SCCM database, but with another MAC address. This is where the Wifi NIC comes in.
Basically we have to register the MAC address of the Wifi NIC in the SCCM database and overwrite the USB-RJ45 connector mac address. That is what the script exaclty does. But for the script to work we also need an active connection to the wireless network. This is were I had some trouble.

The steps that got me a working Wifi connection during OSD are as follows:

Import Wifi profiles:
Netsh wlan add profile <sourcelocation>\profilename.xml (e.g. c:\Wifi\Wifi_Profile.xml)

Restart computer: speeks for itself

Connect to Wireless network:
cmd.exe /c netsh wlan connect name=Wireless-Network-Name

NB, the steps to create a Wifi profile are explained in Mark Morowczynski article.

So the import profile step went well, I had to restart the computer (maybe a net stop wlansvc & net start wlansvc would suffice also) and then I had to specifically connect to the Wireless network. Only then I got my wireless network config and an IP address. I then could run the powershell script at the end of the Task sequence and succeed.

Before you deploy the next tablet, don't forget to clear the PXE deployment from the device if you used a deployment type of required, otherwise you won't be able to deploy other devices from the same USB-RJ45 connector.