Driver management has changed during the last year as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo have all made one big systems management driver pack available. Dell has had this for a long time but now HP and Lenovo do to. This is great news for us deployment geeks. I’m thanking Santa for this, since it was on my Christmas whish list last year, even if it’s not an integration they now give you full packages;
Any way the fact that our biggest manufacturers deploy these easy to use driver-packs cuts down on the time introducing a new model to the system drastically. Every vendor calls their packages a little different but basically they are the same thing. To help you find the package I’ll list the name of the package for Dell,HP and Lenovo here.
Dell – Systems Management
You can find the driver pack in the Systems management category,
It’s one big file, this one for the Precision M4400 is around 400Mb
And you can also find the driver pack for WinPE here. Remember, to get the system to boot you need to add some drivers to WinPE. Usually these are drivers for the network and drivers so WinPE will see your hard drive.
Hewlett-Packard – System Management
The HP driver pack is located in the System Management category,
As you can see in the screenshot they also make WinPE drivers available for download. And as with Dell you need some drivers in your WinPE image.
Lenovo – Enterprise Management
You can find the Lenovo driver pack under the category Enterprise management,
Just as HP’s driver pack this is a Self-Extracting .exe. If you use older models you won’t find the Enterprise management category and you’ll have to use another method for deploying the drivers. Take a look at this article I wrote earlier on Lenovo driver management with SCCM, http://www.nixadmins.net/2012/05/05/deploy-lenovo-drivers-with-configuration-manager/
And as I’ve stated above with both of the other vendors you still need to add network, hard-drive drivers to your WinPE image.
Categorizing – keep driver management sane
I’m a neat freak, so I love to categorize everything and I want everything to be in some sort of easy order. So the first thing I do is create my categories in ConfigMGR to keep my drivers in nice containers. You might want to use your own system but if you don’t have one something like this keeps the driver management sane,
I have the vendors in their own folders and I even create folders for any model I use. And no, I don’t have those in my lab, but I had to put something there to give you an idea of how to categorize them. For the rest of the post I’m going to deploy drivers to my Dell Precision M4400 lab laptop. I’m going to assume you have your driver-pack unpacked and ready in some source folder for the next section.
Import the drivers
If you’ve used ConfigMGR 2007 you’ll notice you won’t be able to import your drivers directly into one of the folders created above. Let’s hope this feature comes back in some update, if not we can live with it. This creates and extra step since I want my drivers in their own folders just for the neatness, it’s not necessary if you don’t want to.
Fire up the Import New Driver Wizard point it to the place where you have your unpacked drivers and select Import the driver and append a new category to the existing categories.
Next I like to unselect the Enable these drivers and allow computers to install them, since I’m going to create driver packages and install them based on WMI queries. I’ve also created a new category W7-X64-Dell-Precision-M4400. Remember I said you don’t have to use folders, categories do take care of the drivers not mixing but, I’m still a neat freak and like to keep my order.
Next create your driver package, this is the one we will deploy to the systems based on the WMI-query.
Just name the package according to your Make, Model and architecture.
Do not add all of these drivers to any of your boot images, you will bloat them if you do. Remember these packages are over 400Mb when compressed. Get the drivers needed for your boot process separately. The import will take a while and once it’s done all of the drivers you imported will be in your driver root.
Select all of the imported drivers and right-click, select move.
Move the drivers to the folder matching the Make, Model and architecture.
You now have your drivers and you’ve even packaged them, so next deploy the driver package to the distribution points you want and let’s take a look at how to use them.
Deploy driver packages using WMI queries
Before editing your Task sequences you need to check what’s stored in Model for your computers. Running WMIC ComputerSystem GET Model will give you the answer, for example my Lenvo W530 show’s this,
The Dell answers Precision M4400. So now that is know that I can start editing my task sequence. In my task sequence I have a step to install a driver package, and I’ve added a condition to that step.
The conditions are, if the WMI query returns true for Model LIKE “%M4400%” then this package will install, if its false the sequencer will jump to the next step. In case you are unfamiliar with queries the string %M4400% means that M4400 can be anywhere in the answer, so Precision M4400 is true in this case. Make a habit of always pressing the Test query button even if it will only return 0. This way you know the syntax is correct before moving it to production.
To summarize this post,
- Use the driver packages provided by your vendor to make driver management less time consuming
- Use categories and folders so you have a quick overview of your driver base
- Deploy driver packages using WMI queries in your task sequences
As always if you have any questions or comments be sure to post below and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.