70. Perform a 'Hands Off'
Windows XP Installation.
Windows XP includes the option to create an 'unattend'
text file which will automatically answer all the questions you would normally
field while installing Windows. This allows the installation to proceed without
user input right from booting the computer. This method is often used by IT
Professionals who can't afford the time to babysit a single system through the
While the 'unattend.txt' file itself is packed with
options, Windows XP includes a simple to use utility which can build one of
these files for you without much effort.
To get at this utility, setup manager, you need to
insert your Windows XP CD and go to the 'support\tools' directory. Use your
favourite zip/unzip software like Winzip or WinRAR to extract the 'deploy' .cab file
to a directory on your hard drive.
Once the deploy.cab file is unzipped, navigate to the
new directory and double click 'setupmgr' to start the setup manager wizard.
This program will ask you a series of questions and use the answers to create a
text file that can automate your Windows XP installation.
Most of the answers will be obvious, but here's a few
you need to know near the start:
Create a new answer file;
Windows unattended installation;
Fully automated (but read the descriptions for the other
No, this answer file will be used to install
Once the wizard has completed, you will be left with an
'unattend.txt' file in the same directory. Rename this file to 'winnt.sif'.
Now copy the winnt.sif file to a formatted floppy disk.
When you start your Windows XP installation, insert the
floppy disk. The install process will automatically search for winnt.sif on the
floppy and use the answers to automate the installation process.
71. Experiment With
You may have heard about 'virtual server' technology in
the past. Companies like VMWare created software that allow multiple virtual
computers to run sharing the memory, processor(s) and hardware of a single
A single server can run many virtual 'client' systems
inside itself, using multiple operating systems. This technology is primarily
used for testing network and patch settings in business environments where
running the tests on the actual live network would be too risky and
time-consuming. Microsoft has decided to get into the virtual computing market,
and you can try their 'virtual server' product evaluation for yourself here. Be aware that you'll need a fast PC
to get much out of this, but if you are at all interested in networking and
Windows networks, you owe it to yourself to play with this.