The Sysadmins

Tips and tricks from the Sysadmins

SCCM 2012 SP1 – Enable Command Support Console in WinPE

Troubleshooting SCCM Operating System Deployments can be tough, to ease the pain you can enable the command support console for use within the Windows Preinstallation Environment. Doing so will give you access to the command prompt, the SMSTS.log and the ability to launch various other applications to aid in troubleshooting. I will show you how to enable the console, then give a couple of examples.

Enabling Command Support Console (F8)

1. Open the System Center Configuration Manager Console.
2. Browse to Software Library -> Operating Systems -> Boot Images and select the boot image you would like to add command support to.
3. Right Click the boot image and select properties.
4. Head to the Customization Tab and tick “Enable command support (testing only)”.

SCCM WinPE F8 to Enable Command Support Console

You will then be prompted with “You have made changes that require you to update distribution points with a new version of this package – Do you want ConfigMgr to update the distribution points now?”.

5. Click Yes.
6. Work will then be done on the Boot.wim, which will in turn be re-distributed. Current size of the boot.wim without any additional drivers added is around 160MB so distribution shouldn’t take too long- even with slow links. Next, next until the process is completed.

Once the updated boot.wim has been distributed, PXE boot into WinPE. You will now be able to access the command prompt by pressing F8.

Press F8 once booted into WinPE

Open the SMSTS.log

The SMSTS.log is the main log file for diagnosing OSD and Task Sequences client side. The location of this file changes through various steps of the task sequence.

WinPE Before HDD is formatted: x:\windows\temp\smstslog\smsts.log
WinPE After HDD is formatted: x:\smstslog\smsts.log
Windows, SCCM agent not installed: c:\_SMSTaskSequence\Logs\Smstslog\smsts.log
Windows, SCCM agent installed: c:\windows\system32\ccm\logs\Smstslog\smsts.log
Windows x64, SCCM agent installed: c:\windows\sysWOW64\ccm\logs\Smstslog\smsts.log

1. Press F8 when in the WinPE environment to open the command prompt.
2. You can view the SMSTS.log file on the live system, or move it to another machine to interrogate. To open the SMSTS.log type notepad X:\Windows\Temp\SMSTS\SMSTS.log (in this case this is the SMSTS.log prior to formatting the HDD). At this stage you can also plug in a USB drive and copy/save the log onto it.

Open Command Prompt in SCCM 2012 WinPE Environment

Taking a screenshot

It can be useful to have the ability to take screenshots from within WinPE. To do so, you can map a drive (or use a USB stick) and use a utility called nircmd.

Here we map a drive with net use j: \\server\share password /user:user then run nircmd from the mapped drive.

Savescreenshotwin will only capture the command prompt window, whereas savescreenshotfull will capture the entire environment (probably more useful).

Map drive in SCCM WinPE Command Console

Hopefully this post will have improved your ability to troubleshoot OSD and task sequence issues, and open up the possibility of running other applications (e.g. process monitor) from within WinPE.


  1. Why in the world is this even an option? Why wouldn’t it just be enabled on every boot image?

    • Rick, mainly because allowing a CMD to be opened up also exposes passwords to someone who knows what they’re doing. You can basically query the passwords in plain text for your SCCM admin account and domain joining account from task sequence variables. You should only enable this in enterprise environments to password protected boot media (USB, etc). For unattended deployments, it’d be best to have a separate boot image with this option not enabled.

  2. Hi everyone, I am curious, I don’t have the customization tab even after the MDT integration. Is there something i am missing?

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