Make it easy: Use VMs for testing MDT application deployments

Easily one of my favorite features of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is installing applications dynamically AFTER the system’s been imaged. Now, if you’re lucky, most of your apps are in MSI format, and installing them is relatively easy. However, us normal IT guys have lots of .exe setup files for more advanced applications that will most likely take some trial and error to nail down that unattended command line magic.

When testing application deployment in any version of MDT, make it easy on yourself, do it in a virtual environment. Use the LTISuspend script in the state restore phase of your task sequence, just before application installs to pause the deployment, so you can take a snapshot of the VM and then test the command line syntax for your application. In fact, one’s better off just throwing in as many apps as you want to test, selecting them in the lite touch wizard, and testing lots of apps at once.

This way you can tweak your unattended command line syntax, and just restore your VM, and save hours upon hours of time.

Of course, don’t forget to configure dynamic logging in your share, and keep an eye on those log files with Trace32. But of course, if you want to make your life painful and tedious you can do what I did for longer than I like to admit, test this on physical hardware and waste lots of time.