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Realtek drivers and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit


Our school recently purchased 3 new computers using Mini ITX motherboards. I originally wanted an Intel based motherboard, but it wasn’t in stock and our supplier ended up getting us Gigabyte H77 Wifi motherboards that had more bells and whistles on it. However, said motherboard has Realtek network cards on-board, specifically the 8168 model. Nothing wrong with this card, except getting it to work with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010.

These days, the computers I’m in charge of at the school are setup using MDT rather than installing from a DVD drive. The process is largely automated after the initial first steps, and my task sequence has been set up to pull in all the latest Windows patches from our WSUS server. However, this all depends on the network card driver being able to work in the Windows PE environment. The Realtek card is not natively supported by the Windows PE version of MDT 2010, so you have to get drivers installed. The same goes for any network card not supported out the box by Windows 7, as that is what the Windows PE version of MDT 2010 is built from.

Thankfully getting things like storage and network drivers injected isn’t a difficult task. I used the drivers off of the support DVD and injected them into the Windows PE image. I started up the new workstation, only to be greeted by the error message below (sorry about the poor quality of the photo, it was taken using my phone)

WP_20130517_001

I found this odd, since the drivers were off the motherboard DVD, and they work fine in Windows itself. When you double click on a driver file in MDT, you can see all the models that the driver supports. It only became clear after a while what the potential problem is. The error message has a “&REV_06” part at the end of the vendor ID. When I looked closer, I realised that though there was indeed a line with the exact same vendor ID, it was for “&REV_01”

This means that while the driver will indeed support the network card, Realtek or Gigabyte have forgotten to add this extra line into their *.inf file that comes with the driver. I copied and pasted the existing line, and modified the end part to read REV_06. This in theory should add support for this chip in Windows PE and let me image these computers.

However, my theory did not work out. Despite modifying the driver package and completely regenerating the Windows PE images, I could not get the client PC to pick up the network card at boot. Manually loading the driver using drvload at the command prompt worked, but it defeats the purpose of using MDT in the first place.

My hope is that when I upgrade to MDT 2012, the problem will be solved. Since the Windows PE version in MDT 2012 will be based off of Windows 8, I am hoping that there will be a generic or native driver built in that will avoid me having to inject Realtek drivers into the image. While I would prefer to only use Intel network cards, it sometimes simply isn’t possible – many laptops I’ve seen lately are all using Realtek network cards for their Ethernet connection.

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  1. Martin
    June 18, 2013 at 11:49

    Hey

    If you have Intel ChipSet drivers in your image, try removing those. I’ve had the same problem with Realtek and my image contained, among other things, a Matrox gfx driver and intel chipset drivers, a total of 3 drivers… when they were removed I was able to install.

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