Deploying BIOS Boot Order to multiple computers (booting to network 1st)

  • Throughout my time reading up on FOG guides, errors, questions and just learning everything I can about image based deployment I’ve not come across a simplified way to setup numerous computers to network boot.

    The main function for all mass deployment is have the machines boot from the network card to initiate through PXE to a boot server. However, how is everyone getting all their machines to do this for the first time (and every time after) with hundreds or thousands of computers? I know you can change the boot priority order, but is that what everyone does, manually change the order for each machine? I know Dell, HP and Lenovo have BIOS deployment tools, but those works after Windows is setup…so if you’re running SCCM you still have to get those machines to boot onto the network at least once. Even with vPro you still need to apply the settings once to control the BIOS remotely afterwards

    Is there a way to mass change BIOS settings on lots of computers for the first time without spamming the bios setup/boot menu key for each one? Is there no way around having to touch each machine at least once the first time? This seems like quite the time investment if you have 1000s of machines and beginning an image deployment operation. Every computer we’ve received from vendors always has the harddrive 1st as the default.

  • Moderator

    @drumnj said in Deploying BIOS Boot Order to multiple computers (booting to network 1st):

    You said you return yours to “normal” boot (I take it hd 1st)

    What I was referring to here is with Dell and CCTK you can set a flag in the bios that basically says on the next reboot boot to the network. On reboot+1 boot what ever the default boot device is.

    So if you wanted to do an unattended imaging but your normal boot device was the hard drive you could push out a FOG snapin that called cctk on next boot-boot to the LAN, then schedule a fog deployment. If the fog client is installed it will reboot the target computer and then start imaging right away.

  • @george1421
    Thanks george, I had a feeling this was the case with the 2nd workflow. Always going to have to touch the computer at some point during it’s workplace life cycle (when it comes to image deployment).

    You said you return yours to “normal” boot (I take it hd 1st). Does this mean whenever you need to run a new FOG deployment you need to run a program/script/policy, a hardware utility, to the machine to change boot order before you can deploy an image again?

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  • Moderator

    @drumnj Well I can only speak about my environment. In our case we do not setup the netboot as the first option. I do require a tech to sit in front of a computer before it gets imaged. During initial power up we utilize the boot menu, this requires the IT tech to press F12 to get to the boot menu, where net booting is selected. This prevents accidental imaging a machine if everything was set to auto.

    Now I can speak for Dells, they have CCTK utility that you can change the bios boot order, or setup on the next boot boot to the network and then return to its normal boot order. But you are right you need to have a booted operating system to run the utility.

    But if you think about workflows. You really have 2 that come to mind. The first is you already have a deployed fleet of computers. They are already up and running on the network. From there you can use the hardware manufacturer tools to change the boot order. If they are windows based you can use GPO, SCCM, or third part tools like PDQ Deploy to push out the utility to the target computers to reset the boot order.

    The other workflow is new out of box, or in a restaging queue. In this case there must be an IT tech involved. So when they have hands on the device they can change the boot order (as well as probably update the firmware on the target computer) before its imaged.

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