Today we are releasing a new LiteTouch deployment option:  the "Offline" edition. 

Instructions for the use of LiteTouch Offline can be found in the "README" file in the following file server location:

(NOTE: This directory previously was "\\\software\Windows_Deployment_Services".  We have changed the directory name to simplify access from the command line.  The old path will remain available via a directory junction link, but documentation should be updated to reflect the new path).

In the fine tradition of the Interwebs, I now present the following LiteTouch Offline FAQ, developed prior to the release of the product (and thus before any questions have been asked at all, let alone "frequently"):

Q.  What is LiteTouch Offline, and why would I want to use it?

A.  LiteTouch Offline is a new method of running LiteTouch operating system and application deployments from removable USB storage media.  LiteTouch Offline has no dependency on the network during deployment.  This allows LiteTouch to be used in several scenarios where it was previously impractical to implement.  In the past, off-campus machines, satellite offices, and low-bandwidth networking segments could not make use of LiteTouch.  Now they can.

Q.  How can I create LiteTouch Offline Boot Media?
A.  You follow the directions in the README file in this directory:
LiteTouch Offline Boot media is created the same way as traditional LiteTouch USB boot devices, but from a different network path.  ISO files are not provided for LiteTouch Offline (because we have yet to find an optical drive that will hold 26+ Gb of data).  For reasons that should be obvious, LiteTouch Offline cannot be made available from the PXE network boot server.

Q. What are the hardware media requirements for LiteTouch Offline?

A. LiteTouch Offline requires a USB storage device with at least 26Gb of available storage space.  32Gb USB Flash Drives are ideal for this purpose, but USB hard drives also can be used.  ETS recommends that the device support USB 2.0 or 3.0 specifications.  USB 1.0+ will work, but also will run like molasses in a hard Vermont winter.  Deployment from eSATA and Firewire storage devices is not supported.

Q.  Should I throw out my current LiteTouch media and switch to using LiteTouch Offline?
A.  For several reasons, traditional (networked) LiteTouch remains the preferred deployment method.  LiteTouch Offline supports only a subset of the operating systems and applications available in traditional LiteTouch system.  LiteTouch Offline media becomes obsolete with each new application update, and thus needs to be updated with much greater frequency.  Some deployment tasks (such as Windows Update validation, workstation time synchronization, and domain join operations) require a network connection to complete successfully, and will be more reliably accomplished from an online deployment.

Q.  What applications and operating systems are not available in LiteTouch Offline?

A.  At this time, only deployment of Windows 7 Enterprise Edition (32 or 64 bit) is available in LiteTouch Offline.  Most of the applications available in LiteTouch Online are available, with the exception of some volume licensed products that require metering or access controls for deployment.  These applications are Mathematica, JMP, ArcGIS, and SPSS.  Additionally, LiteTouch Offline cannot install the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE, accessible by pressing "f8" at boot time) onto your drive along with the operating system install.

Q.  This is so incredibly awesome.  In what way can we thank you for making this stunningly amazing service to the University?

A.  As reputable salaried employees, we can accept only verbal or written thanks.  Cars, airplanes, and yachts cannot be accepted.  You would be amazed at the number of yachts I have had to return (None!  Can you believe it?!?!??!)

-J. Greg Mackinnon | ETS Systems Architecture and Administration | x68251