DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is a new command line tool of the Windows 7 WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit). It is interesting to note that it is also delivered with Windows 7. In this post I make some general remarks about the tool, in particular, about its compatibility with Vista and how it relates to imageX, another important WAIK tool. In my next post I will give some examples of DISM commands.
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DISM replaces the Package Manager (pkgmgr.exe), PEimg and Intlcfg in the Vista WAIK. Package Manager is a command-line tool that allows you to install and configure OS updates, packages and drivers on an offline OS image. PEimg is for creating and modifying Windows PE 2.0 images offline and Intlcfg is used to change the language and locale, fonts and input settings on a Windows image.
You can install the Windows 7 WAIK, including DISM, on Vista SP1. If you manage Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 images under Vista, you will have DISM's full functionality. DISM also works for Windows Vista SP1 and Server 2008 images, but only with limited functionality. In my test, I could not a mount a Vista RTM WIM image. I guess that means that DISM works only with Vista SP1, Server 2008, Windows 7, and Server 2008 R2.
Essentially, you can use all of DISM's features for Vista SP1 images that would have worked with one of the three tools mentioned above. You will get an error message if you use a command line option that is not supported for a Vista image.
It isn't easy to find out what features are new because DISM's syntax is quite different from the Vista's WAIK tools. I didn't try all the options, but it seems to me that none of the so-called management tasks works with Vista images. Management tasks are used to gather information about images. For instance, you can use DISM to enumerate all drivers or hotfixes that are available in a Windows 7 image, but this wouldn't work with a Vista SP1 image.
I also found one feature that doesn't work at all if you run DISM on a Vista box: the online switch. This feature allows you to use DISM for the operating system that is currently running. I guess this is why DISM is delivered with Windows 7. It means that DISM is not only an OS deployment tool, but is also useful for OS management because you can work with it in scripts to manage existing Windows installations.
Some of you might wonder how DISM relates to imageX, the most prominent tool of the Vista WAIK. It seems to me that there is some confusion in the blogosphere about these two tools. I have read several times that DISM is supposed to replace imageX; however, this is certainly not the case. As I outlined in my previous posts, imageX has been extended in the Windows 7 WAIK. This makes it clear that Microsoft has no intention of replacing imageX.
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DISM and imageX have in common that you can mount WIM images with both tools. Once you have mounted an image with imageX, you can use other WAIK tools, or simply Windows Explorer, to manipulate the image. DISM, on the other hand, not only allows you to mount an image; you also can use it to apply changes. Therefore, for Windows 7, DISM is the appropriate tool to configure OS images. The main purpose of imageX is to capture and deploy images, features that DISM lacks.