DISM stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management. This tool was introduced in Windows 7 and will be taking on more features, functions, and responsibilities in Windows 8. DISM replaces the following well-known image creation and management tools: pkgmgr, PEimg, and IntlConfg, and adds considerably to previous tools for customizing and managing images built around the Microsoft Preinstallation Environment (WinPE or sometimes just PE).
Still unclear about DISM? Here’s how the afore-linked Technical Reference describes this toolset:
Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) is a command-line tool used to service Windows images offline before deployment. You can use it to install, uninstall, configure, and update Windows features, packages, drivers, and international settings. Subsets of the DISM servicing commands are also available for servicing a running operating system.
DISM is installed with Windows 7, and it is also distributed in the Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit (Windows OPK) and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK). It can be used to service Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows PE images. DISM replaces several Windows OPK [OEM Pre-installation Kit] tools, including PEimg, Intlcfg, and Package Manager.
To me, the best things about DISM are its abilities to let you customize WinPE to add to the basic functionality that a minimal Windows run-time image already brings to the Windows installation media (which runs off WinPE) and to any system repair disks you might choose to create (which also run from WinPE). What I sometimes need to do is to add drivers to that basic image so I’ll be sure to be able to access various bits and pieces of hardware on my various desktop and notebook PCs (case in point: unless I provide WinPE with a driver to recognize the Ricoh SD card reader in my Lenovo X220 Tablet, it happily ignores the 32 GB SDHC card I keep in its card slot, with a bunch of tools and utilities designed to help repair balky or boot-troubled PCs).
The following TechNet tutorials explain how to do this kind of thing:
In fact, a search on “use DISM to add drivers to WinPE” also comes up with numerous third party tutorials as well.
With Windows 8, DISM will gain some cool features. For one thing, you’ll be able to interact with VHD images (for virtual machines) and not just Windows Image (WIM) files. The old, clunky ImageX utility is gone, replaced with a number of direct image manipulation commands (see the MSFN.org post entitled “DISM Improvements in Windows 8” for more details). Looks like working with images in Windows 8 is going to be a lot easier and more interesting than it has been so far. Good-oh!