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Make DISM Your Go-To Image Management Tool in Win8

If you work with Windows desktops, especially virtualized ones, you’re probably already wise to the wiles and virtues of working with Windows images, probably using some mix  of virtual disk (.vhd or .vhdx) and Windows image (.wim) file formats. As you begin to work your way into Windows 8 images, you’ll find the built-in Windows Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool, aka DISM, offers some interesting additions to and enhancements from its capabilities in Windows 7. DISM was also retro-fitted to Vista, but had to be downloaded in the form of the Windows Automated Installation Kit, aka WAIK, itself now superseded in Windows 8 with the Windows Assessment and Deployment kit, aka ADK. I’ve just started digging into the DISM utility more seriously, as I’m trying to work around an EFI disk partition issue on one of my Windows 8 desktops that’s preventing the new record image (recimg) command from capturing an image on that particular machine. Along the way to further understanding, I came across a peachy resource I wanted to share, because it’s likely to be as helpful to other readers as it’s already been to me — namely, the DISM technical reference from TechNet.

This reference not only includes a useful overview, it also includes a useful set of how-tos on using DISM, as well as the outright and typical command line reference information you’d expect for an important and complex management tool in any system administrator’s toolbox. So far, two items in the how-to collection have proven especially informative in my quest for a current refresh image for my Windows 8 desktops: they’re entitled Create and Manage a Windows Image and How to Take Inventory of an Image or Component. This items have helped me to better understand why, when, and how to use DISM in creating and manipulating Windows image files, and to get my head around the often-complex syntax of the DISM command. I’ve also discovered a CodePlex project called DISM GUI that presents a graphical shell around DISM (the following screenshot shows WIM information for a typical Windows image constructed for a bootable OS install UFD using the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool).

The DISM GUI project makes fooling around the this command a little easier.

The DISM GUI project makes fooling around the this command a little easier.

DISM GUI promises to make real work with DISM more straightforward, too, but I’m not deep enough into its ways and workings yet to comment intelligently on that scenario. All I can say at this point is “Looks good!”

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