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Help needed creating answer file

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11 replies to this topic

#1
fred2k3

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Hello,

I am trying to create an unattended install using WDS 2003. This is where I'm up to:

I have a modified Win 7 boot image (with NIC drivers injected) which loads through WDS 2003 over a PXE boot and allows me to go on to select my install image (Win XP embedded).

I understand that to make this process unattended I need to create an answer file using SIM tool from AIK. I've read various articles on how to do this and have managed to validate and save an xml answer file but I can't get it working. I only need to bypass the following 4 screens to make it unattended:

1. Language/Locale setup
2. Logon credentials (for the Deployment Server)
3. Selecting the Install Image
4. Partition settings


Firstly, are the follows steps correct:

- I'm loading my modified Win7 boot image (Selecting the Setup image rather than the PE image) into SIM to create the answer file.
- I'm adding my component settings (language/locale) to the OOBE pass.


Second of all, I'm not sure my answer file is linking to the boot image

- In WDS 2003 I have right-clicked on the server icon, gone to properties, gone to the Client tab, and located my answer file against x86. But how does it know to link this a particular image? I keep seeing forum posts about right clicking on the boot image in WDS and selecting the answer file but there is no option to do this. There is against the install images, but not boot.

Any advice would be a great help here! Thanks.

Sorry to keeping bombard with questions, but this may provide a clue. When I add my boot image to SIM it asks me to pick the image from within the image file! My options are Windows PE x86 and Windows Setup x86. They appear to contain the same components and packages, and they have the same restrictions when you try and add a component to a particular pass. So which one am I supposed to use?


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#2
submix8c

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??? You're in the wrong Sub-Forum. You should have posted here to get a Win7 reply.

edited and struck through (WDS 2003, so...)

Edited by submix8c, 25 April 2012 - 02:51 PM.

Someday the tyrants will be unthroned... Jason "Jay" Chasteen; RIP, bro!

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#3
winoutreach5

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As specified in the TechNet library Step-by-Step Guide for Windows Deployment Services in Windows Server 2003 the following steps contain the recommended process to associate a client unattend file by architecture. I believe you have already done this but just be sure:

1. Create an Unattend.xml file with settings applicable to the Windows Deployment Services screens.
2. Copy the client unattend file to a folder within the RemoteInstall directory. For example RemoteInstall\WDSClientUnattend.
3. Open the Windows Deployment Services MMC snap-in, and right-click the server that contains the image that you want to associate the unattend file to, and then clickProperties.
4. On the Client tab, select Enable unattended installation, browse to the appropriate unattend file, and then click Open.
5. Click OK twice to close the Properties page.

Next, you will need to associate the unattend file to the image in question. To do this you will do the following:

• Save Unattend. xml files and then associate the file with an image.
o To do this, open the MMC snap-in, right-click the image that you want to associate with the unattend file, and then click Properties. On the General tab, click Allow image to install in unattend mode, click Select File,
browse to select the unattend file, and then click OK twice. The Unattend.xml file will be saved to the following location: \RemoteInstall\Images\<imagegroup>\<imagename>\Unattend\ImageUnattend.xml.

My assumption is that your unattended installation is not working properly due to the fact that the above step has not yet been completed. The unattend file must also be linked to the image you are deploying.

Another tip that might help you is to consider the use of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) which combines all of the official tools for imaging and deploying into a single workbench interface that can help automate the entirety of the process. Additionally, it is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2, which means learning one utility to do all of your current deployments as well as future. Furthermore, it is exceptionally useful in creating “universal” images as it can easily add or remove drivers or applications from the deployment images. MDT can also be used in conjunction with Windows Deployment Services (WDS).

Finally, for step-by-step instructions to deploying Windows 7 I recommend this step-by-step guide from the Springboard Series on TechNet and the Build a better desktop image resource as it is a great article with additional detailed information on desktop image management. Also, you might want to check out the Deliver and Deploy Windows 7 page on the Springboard site on TechNet so as to better familiarize yourself with Windows 7 deployment.

Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro

#4
submix8c

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Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro

Re - this "Team" - I found this.

It would be nice if you introduce yourself as I have found a lot of info on other sites regarding your legitimacy. I also found this. It would have been nice to indicate that as well...

Hmmm, NBD, but....

Someday the tyrants will be unthroned... Jason "Jay" Chasteen; RIP, bro!

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#5
winoutreach5

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Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro

Re - this "Team" - I found this.

It would be nice if you introduce yourself as I have found a lot of info on other sites regarding your legitimacy. I also found this. It would have been nice to indicate that as well...

Hmmm, NBD, but....


My sincerest apologies. I have made my introductory post here.

Thank you!

Jessica
Windows Outreach Team -- IT Pro

#6
fred2k3

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Hi Jessica,

Thanks for your reply.

As stated in the original post, I have tried right clicking on the boot image in WDS and going to properties - there is no option available to attach an answer file. When I try the same thing with Install images I can see the tick box, so I know where the option should be - it's just not there for the Boot image.

Is this because you can only create answer files for install images, or is there something wrong with my wim file?

#7
Tripredacus

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WDS does support using an XML, but it cannot be attached specifically to a boot image unless you use something like MDT. In just WDS, you can specify a default XML that will apply to all boot images. You can find this in Properties of your Server name in WDS. Then go to the Client tab. Check the box for Enable unattended Installation and point your path to your XML. So far in my testing, this only will apply to a standard Windows Setup boot.wim, and none of my custom WinPE boot.wims use the answer file at all.

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Edited by Tripredacus, 01 May 2012 - 07:42 AM.

MSFN RULES | GimageX HTA for PE 3-5 | lol probloms
msfn2_zpsc37c7153.jpg

#8
fred2k3

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Thanks for the advice Tripedacu.

So basically I can't automate the boot image installation in WDS if it's modified in any way? I have injected a NIC driver which I need otherwise it can't progress.

#9
fred2k3

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About a month ago I set out to deploy an XP embedded wim file, which I already have prepared, over a network. After reading many articles Windows Deployment Services seemed like a good option. Since then I have met setbacks and obstacles at virtually every turn and I'm starting to wonder if my approach is wrong.

• Firstly, I learn I can't use the actual image I want to deploy without using another image as a "boot image"
• WDS seems only to accept Vista or Win7 boot.wim files which you can grab from the O/S disc
• The Win7 boot image file didn't work with my client machine because it was missing a NIC driver
• Managed to inject the NIC driver into the boot image using DISM
• Now I can finally PXE boot to the boot image file, but there are 3 or 4 screens requiring manual input to pick my install image
• Trying to create an answer file using SIM, but all the main components are missing so I can't answer the options I need - presumably because I'm interrogating a boot image?
• I've just learned that I can't even use WDS to link an answer file to a customised boot image!

Weeks of effort for no useful result so far - Is it just me or is this ridiculously complicated?


EDIT: Apologies if this has just come across as a big rant - it wasn't supposed to. I have logged this with Microsoft Tech Support so will hopefully be able to come back with the aswer soon.

Edited by fred2k3, 02 May 2012 - 03:59 AM.


#10
Tripredacus

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You can either try using MDT or put imagex in your boot.wim. Look at Iceman's guide here:
http://www.msfn.org/...yment-using-pe/
MSFN RULES | GimageX HTA for PE 3-5 | lol probloms
msfn2_zpsc37c7153.jpg

#11
winoutreach5

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Fred2k3,

Tripredacus is correct – you might want to consider using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) which can be used in conjunction with WDS. However, I also did some searching for a specific resolution / step-by-step guide for what you’re trying to do. I did come across this TechNet thread in which Mervyn Zhang provides the steps to successfully perform an unattended installation for Windows XP Embedded. He notes that one unattend file is not enough – you will need “one for the Windows Deployment Services UI screens, and one for the latter phases of Setup.”

If you would like to consider using MDT for your Windows XP embedded deployment you might also find this TechNet thread helpful as it provides the steps necessary to do so.

One more thing: There is a Webcast coming up on May 15th and May 17th entitled "Everything You Wanted to Know and Ask about Windows Deployment" (Part 1&2). To register for this event, click here.

Jessica
Windows Outreach Team – IT Pro

#12
fred2k3

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I am delighted to say I have finally got the unattended install working.

I was shocked to discover the reason for the deployment failing was that the deployment server and client machines BIOS date & times were different! Why this should cause it to fail is beyond me, but it's all working now so that's good.




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