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Beginners Guides: Unattended Windows 2000/XP Installations
Beginners Guides: Unattended Windows 2000/XP Installations - PCSTATS
Make a customized Windows XP Install CD with all the drivers included, that installs by itself.
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Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Dec 21 2004   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS Beginners Guides

Step 3. Windows Setup Manager

Most of the questions posed by the Windows Setup Manager are pretty straightforward, so this PCstats Guide won't run through them in detail, but here's a few things you'll want to look out for:

  • You want 'windows unattended installation.'
  • The 'user interaction level' page has several choices; for a completely hands-off installation, choose 'fully automated.'
  • For 'distribution folder' page, choose the 'this file will be used to install from a CD' option.

Once you have run through all the questions, clicking 'finish' will create the 'unattend.txt' file in the 'deploy' directory. Rename this file to 'winnt.sif' and copy it into the 'bootcd\working\i386' directory.

Make sure that when you rename the file you answer 'yes' to the question; "If you change filename extension, the file may become unusable. Are you sure you want to change it?" If you don't, Windows 2000 will rename the file to 'winnt.sif.txt', and its icon will change to one for an unassociated file. The unattended install CD will fail to work if this is the case, so be sure that the renamed file is actually 'winnt.sif'.

Once that is done, it is now positioned to supply the answers that Windows needs during the installation process. The WinXP install will automatically look for the winnt.sif file during the initial stages of setup.

Step 3A: Option for automatic partitioning of the hard drive

By default, the Winnt.sif file you have created does everything in the install process automatically except partitioning and formatting the hard drive. This must still be done manually. If you want to skip this and have the setup process automatically format the main drive with NTFS and install, enter the following line in the winnt.sif file under the [unattended] heading.

Repartition = yes

Note that this will make the setup process automatically erase any data currently on the main drive.

Additional instructions for Windows 2000 users

Note that if you are performing this process with the version of 'setupmgr.exe' included with Windows 2000 Professional and Server, you will need to add an additional line to the winnt.sif file manually. This earlier version of the software does not support including the Windows product key, so the install process will still prompt you to enter the key unless you add it yourself.

Here's how to do that: First open the winnt.sif file (or the unattend.txt file if you have not yet renamed it) and find the [UserData] section. After the rest of the entries in this section, put in:

ProductID = (your windows product id key in the format xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx)

Build your own Winnt.sif file

If you'd like to have a go at customizing the winnt.sif file further, there's a huge (and I mean HUGE) list of optional entries contained in the 'ref.chm' help file (for Windows XP users) or the 'unattend.doc' file (for Windows 2000 users). For now, let's continue on with a look at how to slipstream RAID and Serial ATA drivers into your customized unattended WinXP install CD.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS Beginners Guides
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Unattended Windows 2000/XP Installations
 Pg 2.  Step 1: Copying the source files to your hard drive
 Pg 3.  Step 2 Con't: Installing the service packs
 Pg 4.  — Step 3. Windows Setup Manager
 Pg 5.  Step 4: Adding RAID/SATA text-mode drivers
 Pg 6.  Step 4B: Modifying Winnt.sif for driver installation
 Pg 7.  Modifying txtsetup.sif - Part 2
 Pg 8.  Modifying txtsetup.sif - Part 3
 Pg 9.  Step 5: Adding plug-and-play drivers to the CD
 Pg 10.  Step 6: Extracting the boot image and creating a custom boot CD
 Pg 11.  Burning a bootable CD con't
 Pg 12.  Troubleshooting the customized Windows XP unattended install CD

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