0windows 8 logoWdsclient — There was a problem initializing wds mode

I’ve had this error sev­er­al times over the years, and it always seems to be for a dif­fer­ent reas­on. So below I will col­late all the pos­sible sources of the prob­lem I have so far encountered, along with solu­tions

1. The WDS Server is also the DHCP server and option 67 isn’t set correctly

If one serv­er is run­ning both WDS and DHCP you will need to change a few set­tings as both ser­vices nor­mally listen on the same port. You need to tell WDS to listen on a dif­fer­ent port and set DHCP to listen for and pass on PXE requests. There is plenty of doc­u­ment­a­tion on this from Microsoft or via Google.

2. A VMware system is running on the network somewhere and is running a parallel DHCP service

I’ve had this before — hav­ing VMware work­sta­tion (and prob­ably oth­er products) run­ning on any PC on the net­work seems to some­times mess up DHCP by issu­ing an IP to anoth­er cli­ent PC when it shouldn’t be doing any­thing of the sort!

3. The NIC drivers aren’t included in the boot image (not the install image, the boot image)

If the NIC drivers aren’t included in the boot image it will fail after the ini­tial PXE boot. Adding the drivers is reas­on­abl ystraight-for­ward, but beware a sep­ar­ate prob­lem where WDS on Win­dows Serv­er 2012 R2 can’t add drivers to Win­dows 10 boot images. I have writ­ten about how to solve this in a pre­vi­ous post.

4. Client PC has multiple NICs

Some cli­ent PCs have mul­tiple NICs — if neces­sary dis­able addi­tion­al NICs pri­or to the deploy­ment

5. Client and WDS server on different subnets

You will need to do some addi­tion­al con­fig­ur­a­tion to pass the PXE request through from 1 sub­net to the oth­er. There is plenty of doc­u­ment­a­tion on this avail­able from Microsoft and via Google.

6. Assign a static IP to the host PC on your DHCP server

This was this issue I had most recently — the PC was get­ting 1 IP address at the ini­tial PXE boot and then seemed to get assigned anoth­er one after boot which seemed to pre­vent the serv­er from see­ing it. By adding a stat­ic mapped IP address to the MAC address of the PC it always gets the same IP address and then the error doesn’t occur. Suc­cess.

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