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Operating System Deployment (OSD) under Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) control is radically different from OSD with SCCM. This is even true with SCCM/MDT integration. We can really think of MDT as a pulling deployment solution. From bare metal to a refresh, actions tend to be client-driven (though not always). SCCM, for the most part, is a push deployment solution.
For example, an administrator would not make task sequences available to every device. Bad things can happen. This can make it difficult for an SCCM administrator to manage new and unknown computers. Let’s look into the process and changes needed to image unknown computers in SCCM 2012.
Understanding unknown computers in SCCM 2012 ^
For me, the largest barrier to overcome was unknown computer deployments. These are OS deployments to machines not found in the SCCM database or those that your SCCM infrastructure is not currently managing. Unknown machines can also include devices that an admin has not manually imported into SCCM. If SCCM doesn’t recognize the MAC or BIOS GUID, it is an unknown computer.
By default, the Device Collections root contains an All Unknown Computers collection. This collection contains two objects: x64 Unknown Computer and x86 Unknown Computer.
Members of the All Unknown Computers collection in SCCM 2012
These objects represent the architecture of the unknown computer, not the current OS on the machine. The x86 unknown computer applies to machines that can only support an x86 OS, whereas the x64 unknown computer applies to machines that can support x86 and x64 operating systems.
Deploying your task sequence and configuring collection variables ^
This guide won’t cover the creation of a SCCM task sequence; the creation process is identical for known and unknown computers. However, unknown computer imaging does require a bit of tweaking to make the process run smoothly.
Your task sequence must include a method of installing the Configuration Manager client. The Setup Windows and the ConfigMgr task normally handle the installation, so an unaltered task sequence would work fine. If the Configuration Manager client installation fails (or if the task sequences fail early enough), the imaging device will be registered with the name “Unknown.” Objects linked to an unknown record do not fall under the All Unknown Computers collection. You should delete an unknown device record before you reimage the machine.
An Unknown device record in an SCCM database
Decide whether your task sequence will be an assignment (available) or a mandatory (required) deployment. A required deployment is interaction-less. It will not prompt for any information. An assignment will allow you to direct the OS installation path. You can select a task sequence if multiple devices are deployed, and you can assign a computer name before the installation occurs.
An available deployment to the All Unknown Computers device collection
There are multiple ways to prompt for a computer name. My favorite, which works with an MDT integrated task sequence, is to assign a collection variable to the All Unknown Computers collection.
In the Configuration Manager console, navigate to Assets and Compliance/Device Collections. Open the Properties tab on the All Unknown Computers collection and select Collection Variables. Add a collection variable and set the name to OSDComputerName. Leave the value blank.
Creating the OSDComputerName variable for Unknown Computers
When an unknown computer begins a task sequence, you will be able to configure the computer name by clicking the OSDComputerName variable and entering a machine name.
Distribution point requirements for unknown computer support
Your distribution point must also support unknown computers in order for them to network boot. Navigate to Administration/Site Configuration/Servers and Site System Roles in the Configuration Manager console. Under Site System Roles, select the Distribution point properties for any DP that will need unknown computer support.
Enabling unknown computer support on the distribution point
Ensure that the following options are selected:
- Enable PXE support for clients
- Allow this distribution point to respond to incoming PXE requests
- Enable unknown computer support
Example of a distribution point that can now support unknown computer deployments
If you use device media, ensure that the Enable unknown computer support box was selected when the media was created.
Unknown computer support in SCCM can require a different way of thinking and does require some infrastructure changes. By using the All Unknown Computers collection, you can deploy task sequences to machines that SCCM does not manage. Assigning a task sequence and configuring a collection variable allows you to have some control at the machine level. Finally, enabling unknown computer support on the distribution point allows you to image devices that SCCM does not know.
In my next post I will show you how to troubleshoot unknown computer deployments.