TSBackground for ConfigMgr

Do not miss this eye candy, TSBackground for ConfigMgr, that also adds security to your deployments.

We are all familiar with the ConfigMgr standard TSProgresUI, which makes a great job but perhaps is not so aesthetically appealing.

TSBackground is the successor of “OSDBackground” that we published a couple of years ago. This new version addresses known issues as well as adds a lot of new functionality requested, including replacing the built-in ProgressUI. The first picture shows a design that we recently made for a customer. Apart from the more complicated controls, such as the progress bars, everything is customizable. TSBackground can show fixed text in combination with the content of any TS variable in any color, font and location you desire.

Debug

TSBackground has password protected debug features built in. Just right click the upper left corner of the screen, type your password and gain access to the debug tools.

This makes it possible to disable the F8 command support that we technicians love but frequently forget to turn off once a new boot image is put in production. This is a huge advantage as anyone with the right skills will be able to dump sensitive information from your environment so long as it is enabled.

Configuration

TSBackground is fully configurable with respect to graphic layout, you can make it appear in almost any way or fashion that you like. This comes with the price of not being done just as easily as it was with the old “OSDBackground”, but if you willing to spend a little time and read the manual carefully you will surely get what you want.

When the application is launched the layout is loaded from .xaml files located in a dedicated sub folder. There are some “rules” that needs to be honored, naming is one, including the standard xmlns namespace in every top grid is another. Study the included standard files (General.xaml and Status.xaml) and consult the manual for more in-depth information on how to modify or create these files. A “Design Viewer” is available in the “Tools and Script” folder, this will help you assure that your file(s) are valid before tested in a Task sequence.

Setup

To avoid having to download the binaries TSBackground is best included in the boot image and later, in the Task sequence, transferred to the OS disk just before “Setup Windows and ConfigMgr”.

Boot image

The manual explains how to add the files to the Boot image, this is done on the “Customization” tab.

Launch in PE

The recommended method to launch the application is by injecting a custom winpeshl.ini file into the boot wim – this sounds difficult but is only a matter of placing a file (included in the download) in a folder, update the image and then remove the file. The manual explains this. This method is preferred and recommended as the injected file, including the launch command, automatically runs on every boot to Windows PE. This means we do not have to bother about putting in extra steps to start the application after for example a bios update or configuration.

Start in full OS (Windows)

To re-start TSBackground at the earliest possible moment when the computer enters full OS we recommend adding a “RunSynchronousCommand” to the “unattend.xml” file.

This is very well described here, so we will not spend more time on it:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/customize/desktop/unattend/microsoft-windows-deployment-runsynchronous-runsynchronouscommand

In short you should add the following command, adjust “Order” according to your environment, to your unattend.xml file:

A fully functional (Windows 10 x64, en-US CST) file is included in the download as an example.

Task sequence

To test this and visualize where (aprox.) to put the various steps related to TSBackbackround we used the wizard to create a standard TS. We also added basic error handling which has been covered earlier on this blog, https://ccmexec.com/2016/12/error-handling-in-ts-without-mdt-using-osdbackground/

The green dots mark TSBackground related steps.

Summary

As you understand this tools / utility does not solve any technical issues, but it does add an extra security layer with regards the F8 Command support and it sure looks nice. We have already seen some very nice custom layouts and backgrounds circulating on Twitter, one that really stuck out was made by the admins over at Minnesota IT Service (Chris Molstad).

TSBackground can be downloaded from TechNet Gallery and comes with and extensive manual as well as several tools to help you design your own favorite “TSBackground”.

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Configuration-Manager-Task-6422b6f8?redir=0

Make sure to follow us on Twitter, if not already, for news on this and other tools:

@ccmexec and @Josch62

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