In MDT 2012 Beta 2, a new feature has been added: the ability to integrate the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 7 into the Lite Touch boot images generated by MDT.  The end result is a new option when booted into Windows PE:

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And when you choose the “Run DaRT Tools” option, you can see all the tools that DaRT offers:

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While you will typically see DaRT positioned as more of a “recovery” tool, you can probably see the “diagnostics” benefits too, using the provided tools to inspect the current computer. 

One of the new features in DaRT 7 is especially useful: remote control.  Using this you can access a remote computer even while it is in Windows PE.  There is a client-side agent for this that is automatically executed as soon as the MDT “Welcome” wizard completes.  (We don’t start it before then because you might be using static IP addressing that would be configured through the “Welcome” wizard.  If you aren’t planning to use static IP, you can skip the “Welcome” wizard by setting “SkipBDDWelcome=YES” in CustomSettings.ini.)  You’ll see this minimized on the bottom left of the screen:

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If you restored that to a full window, you would see that it is listening for connections:

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From a computer with DaRT installed, you can run the “DaRT Remote Connection Viewer” to make the connection, just type in the ticket number, IP address, and port.  (If you’ve enabled the MDT 2012 monitoring feature, to be discussed more in a future blog posting, this process is automated – the connection details are automatically provided.)  The connection performance is good, just like you are using a typical RDP connection.  (Really, that’s exactly what you are doing – this uses the same underlying protocol as a typical remote desktop connection.)

So how do you enable the DaRT integration?  The MDT documentation explains this, although there is an error in step #1, which I’ve rewritten below:

Enable DaRT support

  1. Copy the Tools.cab file from the DaRT installation to the appropriate tools folder (either Tool\x86 or Tools\x64) in a deployment share.
  2. Click Start, and then point to All Programs. Point to Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, and then click Deployment Workbench.
  3. In the Deployment Workbench console tree, go to Deployment Workbench/Deployment Shares
  4. In the details pane, click deployment_share (where deployment_share is the name of the deployment share for which you want to enable DaRT support).
  5. In the Actions pane, click Properties.
    The deployment_share Properties dialog box appears (where deployment_share is the name of the deployment share for which you want to enable DaRT support).
  6. In the deployment_share Properties dialog box, on the Windows PE tab, select platform (where deployment_share is the name of the deployment share for which you want to enable DaRT support and platform is the processor architecture platform for which you want to enable DaRT support), select the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) check box, and then click OK.
  7. Update the deployment share.
    As a part of updating the deployment share, the DaRT files are integrated with the Lite Touch Windows PE .wim files, which automatically include Windows RE. When the .wim files are installed on the target computer, DaRT support will automatically be included.
    Note For more information about updating a deployment share see Update a Deployment Share in the Deployment Workbench
  8. Close all open windows and dialog boxes.

So how do you know which folder to copy the “Tools.cab” into?  Well, when you install DaRT on an x86 OS, you get an x86 Tools.cab, so that goes into the Tools\x86 folder.  Conversely, when you install DaRT on an x64 OS, you get an x64 Tools.cab, so that goes into the Tools\x64 folder.  (Yes, that’s less than ideal as it means you need an x86 and an x64 install of DaRT to get both platform files.  We’re working on that.  In the meantime, you can cheat: you can do an administrative install of the opposite platform using “msiexec.exe /a MSDart70msi”.  That will end up creating the folder structure, but not any of the shortcuts, for the opposite platform install.)

Once you’ve copied the files into the right place, you can then see a new Windows PE component in the deployment share properties:

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Check the DaRT checkbox (for each platform), apply the changes, update the deployment share, and you’re done.

A few common questions:

Q: How do I get DaRT?

DaRT is a component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).  To get DaRT, you need to get MDOP.  To get MDOP, you need to have Software Assurance on your client computers (or be using Windows Intune).  If you have any questions, contact your local Microsoft account team.  (Don’t know who they are?  Drop me an e-mail and I’ll find out.)

Q: How does monitoring help with this?

The DaRT remote control agent writes a file to the X:\Windows\system32 folder with the details needed to make a remote control connection (ticket, IP address, port).  This file is found by the MDT “Gather” script (you can see the values in the BDD.LOG).  When monitoring is enabled, those details are passed along to the monitoring server and stored, making it easy to initiate remote control with a simple button push:

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This initiates the DaRT Remote Connection Viewer with command line parameters with the required details (ticket, IP address, port).

Q: Can this be done with Configuration Manager too?

Well, sort of.  If you copy the Tools.cab files into the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\Templates\Distribution\Tools\<platform> folder, you will then see the “Microsoft Diagnostics and Recover Tools (DaRT)” option in the MDT wizard for creating a new boot image in ConfigMgr:

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So that adds the pieces into the boot image, but you would still need to run them as part of a ConfigMgr task sequence with a command line like “cmd.exe /c start /min x:\windows\system32\RemoteRecovery.exe -nomessage”.