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Deployment Image Servicing Management (DISM)

Deployment Image Servicing and Management

This is a command line tool which is included in Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 and newer Windows operating systems.  It is also included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) and the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK).  DISM is used for management and servicing of Windows image files (.wim).

Hardware Independent Imaging (HII)

This term describes an approach to deploying an Operating System where the drivers and software are separate from the base image. Also known as a layed imaging, there are multiple steps to deploying a complete computer system that are specific to the hardware being deployed to.

Prior to this approach, and still used by some Enterprises, a common method to deploy an system was to create a hardware dependent image. Meaning, there was an image for each and every type of computer hardware/configuration that a company supported. An IT technicial would install the Operating System, Drivers, and Software on a system and then using a hard drive copying tool such as Ghost, create a copy of the entire hard drive. This copy could then be used to deploy the finished product/image to other computers of the exact same hardware. This approach is no longer recommended as it leads to high IT overhead to manage each and every "image." For example, when a new computer model needs to be supported, the entire image creation process must be done from start to finish. Likewise, if any piece of software needed an update or the Operating System needed to be patched then every instance of the Hardware Dependent images needed to be updated.

The preferred method of image deployment is to use Hardware Indenpendent imaging where the Operating System, Drivers, and Software are all independent from one another. The imaing process instead of being a hard drive copy is instead a managed process to ensure the right drivers and software is layered onto the target system as needed.

Image (System Image)

1. A copy of the entire state of a computer system stored in some non-volitile form such as a compressed file.

2. A file (usually compressed) or non-volitile state of an entire operating system which can be applied to a system programatically.

*See also SOSI


A command line tool used to create, edit, and deploy Windows disk images using the Windows Imaging Format (.wim).  ImageX has been deprecated (superseded) by the DISM command line tool. ImageX is included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK).

*See also Windows Automation Installation Kit (WAIK)WIM, and DISM

Preboot Execution Environment (PXE)

This term describes a process which allows a computer to boot over the network on a physical wired network connection. The end result is a tiny Operating System is executed via the PXE method which may serve as a launching pad to performing other tasks such as deploying a full Operating System.

PXE relies on Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to provide extra scope options that point to a PXE server and boot file. The client performing the PXE boot will request a DHCP address, and using the scope options reach out to the PXE server and request the boot file.

The boot file will be downloaded via TFTP and "launched." At this point the PXE process is done complete.

Standard Operating System Image (SOSI)

Standard Operating System Image

A file (usually compressed) or non-volitile state of an entire operating system which can be applied to a system programatically.

*See also Image (System Image)

Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK)

A collection of tools and technologies produced by Microsoft designed to help deploy Microsoft Windows operating system images.  WAIK has been renamed to the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) as of Windows 8.

*See also Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK)

Windows Imaging Format (.wim)

A file-based disk image format developed by Microsoft.

Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE)

Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) is a minimal operating system with limited services, built on the Windows kernel. It is used to prepare a computer for Windows installation, to copy disk images from a network file server, and to initiate Windows Setup.

Windows System Imager (Windows SIM)

A GUI utility provided by Microsoft that allows an IT Administrator to create the XML file used to configure a computer during the deployment.

The file created, normally called unattend.xml, is used by the Windows Operating System (Vista and up) to configure varous components of the Operating System. Items such as time zone, language, activation and many more.

The SIM uses the Catalog file included on the Microsoft Operation System ISO to provide the list of settings that can be configured for the selected WIM. If a Catalog file does not exist, SIM can build one off of the selected WIM.

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