Disable F8 during LTI install (updated)

A helpful reader named Holger Kröber from Germany pointed out to me recently that I had made an error in a Windows Deployment Services tip I had published in the Admin KnowledgeBase on WindowsNetworking.com.  Here is the corrected tip:

Disable F8 during LTI install

MDT 2010 allows you to press F8 during the install process in order to open a WinPE command prompt if this is needed. You might want to disable this functionality however in a production deployment environment to prevent end-users from accidentally interrupting installation.

To disable F8 keypress functionality for MDT, use Notepad to open the the winpeshl.ini file found in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\Templates directory of your MDT 2010 installation and replace /Bootstrap with /BootstrapNoSF8 in these text files.

In a follow-up conversation with Holger on this issue, he shared some additional thoughts on how to quickly enable/disable the F8 key to make it easier to troubleshooting issues with Windows Deployment Services.  He then gave me permission to share his thoughts with other WServerNews readers:

What a shame, that there is no easier solution for this. Sometimes i just want to quickly activate/deactivate the F8 key, e.g. for troubleshooting purposes.

It seems, that every time I want to change it, I have to edit the INI file, then update the deployment-share and then import the generated boot.wim to WDS – by far to many steps I think!

But I’m sure that there is a way to automate that task:

  1. Mount the boot.wim and directly edit the file %mountdir%\Windows\system32\winpeshl.ini
  2. The script should support the activation and deactivation of the F8-key.

Another solution is to completely deactivate the boot.wim and only activate it during deployment phases, thus reducing the number of users that hit the f12-key during the PXE phase and then executing the command prompt (whether F8 or Shift+F10) and compromising the system. E.g. as batch file:

wdsutil /set-image /Image:"Microsoft Windows Setup (x86)" 
/ImageType:Boot /Architecture:x86 /Enabled:Yes
wdsutil /get-image /Image:"Microsoft Windows Setup (x86)"
/ImageType:Boot /Architecture:x86 | find "Status:"

And vice versa:

wdsutil /set-image /Image:"Microsoft Windows Setup (x86)" 
/ImageType:Boot /Architecture:x86 /Enabled:No wdsutil /get-image /Image:"Microsoft Windows Setup (x86)"
/ImageType:Boot /Architecture:x86 | find "Status:"

And if I have finished my script for editing the winpeshl.ini directly in the boot.wim I will let you know!

Cheers, Holger

The above tip was previously published in an issue of WServerNews, a weekly newsletter from TechGenix that focuses on the administration, management and security of the Windows Server platform in particular and cloud solutions in general. Subscribe to WServerNews today by going to http://www.wservernews.com/subscribe.htm and join almost 100,000 other IT professionals around the world who read our newsletter!

Mitch Tulloch is an eleven-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud computing technologies.  Mitch is also Senior Editor of WServerNews. For more information about him see http://www.mtit.com.

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