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W2kR1sp1 AutoUnattend.xml location for headless install from DVD


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#1
HerbM

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Thanks in advance -- I have tried to search here and google to see if this has been covered but no one seems to be doing quite what I am working to do.

Win2008 R2 SP1 integrated DVD source.


I believe that my AutoUnattended.xml is not being found during the install (after spending a lot of time proofing,rebuilding, validating in SIM,trying the sample with minimal modifications etc) so my file must be being SKIPPED.

Please confirm or correct my understanding of the location of this file.

Goal: Install from DVD* source with no admin/user input.

My Understanding: an AutoUnattend.xml on the ROOT of available media is be read and processed.

Is this correct?


I have the AutoUnattend.xml on the E:\ drive root -- I can confirm that by pressing Shift-F10 to get a shell command prompt when the Language UI dialog pops up (which also indicates my file is not be processed correctly.) The file is clearly there in the root.

Language settings, OS choice, Disk partitioning etc are throwing dialogs so EITHER the file is not being found OR it has some type of error that make it fail to process.

[E: is read-only but I understand that this should only affect the PRECEDENCE of the XML file if there were multiples -- I only have ONE.]
I am virtually certain that this method worked at least once and that it is a supported/recommended way to provide the file.


* For those interested in "Why" -- technically this is a DELL iDRAC (iLO) Server with the "DVD" mounted from an ISO file on a nearby server, and the E: drive is created on the SDCard in Flash memory to contain the AutoUnattend.xml file.

The media is definitely mounted since I can see the OS DVD as F: and the XML file is clearly present (read-only) on E:\.

I do not wish to pre-build a bunch of custom images for every change so wish to use the stock (MAK) DVD for this.

Once this is working, I intend to write a (simple) script to modify the 10-20 things we would typically change for different installs etc. (Server type, tools loaded, disk partition sizes etc).

I wish to take advantage of the fact that I SHOULD be able to get pretty much any type of OS install from ONE "stock DVD" merely by changing ONLY the XML file.

Since I am going to need to edit the XML file for each install anyway, i would like to limit the changes to just that.

Any thoughts? Ideas?


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HerbM


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#2
HerbM

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Additiional Info after more investigation:


Using the Shift-F10 Command prompt during the (paused) install, and looking in %WinDir%\Panther there is NO answer file (XML) there -- supposedly the one that is being used should have been copied to the Panther directory by the install.

However, using FIND on the setupact.log shows 2 AutoUnattend.xml files are being found -- on on C:\ (a minimalist one likely produced by the Dell driver provisioning) and MINE on E:\ (as intended).

Both are valid; both have WinPE sections. The Dell one on the C:\ would take precedence over mine.

Is there some way that MY answer file can "supplement" the Dell one? The Dell XML is essential to Driver provisioning & installation -- it is difficult or impossible to replace or do without

Edit: Reading Here http://technet.micro...5(v=ws.10).aspx
...it's not even clear what happens with multiple valid configs for the CURRENT phase -- does the 1st get used or do they get combined in the precedence order and all (combination) changes applied?

That would be perfectly fine as the WindowsPE section of the Dell driver provisioning has no conflicts with my WindowsPE section.....




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HerbM

Edited by HerbM, 07 September 2012 - 11:36 PM.


#3
maxXPsoft

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What passes are included in the Dell xml?
What passes are in yours?
You could mount the iso and add your stuff to the xml on the iso. More trouble but would solve easily.

1. Delete Dell.xml and add the stuff to yours
2. Try placing your xml on the root beside the iso
3. You can spec another xml using Audit mode using something like this added to the Dell.xml sysprep /generalize /unattend:unattend.xml
Where unattend.xml is your file

Edited by maxXPsoft, 09 September 2012 - 04:06 AM.

Download ++> Windows 7 + 8 Unattended DVD + App Installer + Services Disabler + Load All Button + XML Creator
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XP Unattended CD/DVD creator - Version 4.1.7
Sample xml + Setupcomplete + Add Right click .wim Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1

#4
HerbM

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Thank you so much for responding - this is a very sticky and tricky problem.

First, I am pretty sure that it is safe to say:

No, two AutoUnattend.xml files will NOT be processed by the install for the SAME pass.

The first one (i.e., highest precedence) configured for a particular pass provides ALL of the settings.

What passes are included in the Dell xml?
What passes are in yours?
You could mount the iso and add your stuff to the xml on the iso. More trouble but would solve easily.

1. Delete Dell.xml and add the stuff to yours
2. Try placing your xml on the root beside the iso
3. You can spec another xml using Audit mode using something like this added to the Dell.xml sysprep /generalize /unattend:unattend.xml
Where unattend.xml is your file


1. Can't do that easily - it's coming out of Dell flash and already processed by the time I would see it -- in fact, at the point it is available and processed I am no longer in control of the process and the Unattended instal should be wel on th way.

2. Can't do that -- there is no "iso" when this happens --the ISO is mounted (read-only) as if it is a real DVD (For all practical purposes it is a REAL DVD.)

3. Audit mode is way to late - I need to affect WindowsPE mode and cannot run sysprep because I am doing a "DVD Boot" install.


I actually have convinced myself that only one file is processed (per pass) so now I have a new scheme.

In rough outline:

  • Mount on iDrac Flash my script created "img" file with Autounattend.MINE (some other name) for the custom install.
  • Build my own WindowsPE ISO (small as possible) mount it on iDrac Flash -- include Perl or some smaller tool to auto edit the multiple XML files
  • Mount the OS Install DVD as a remote file (doesn't get copied in full until needed by installer)
  • Boot to my own PE, run a Perl (or something) to fix up the combination of the DELL and my custom XML. (This part is pretty easy if I get control here)
  • Reboot to the DVD (that's mounted) for the install with the correct (full) XML

So in essence, this is a really round-about-way to do your #1 idea.

Thanks for the suggestions and you may have given me another idea that COULD be simpler.

#5
WinOutreach4

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My Understanding: an AutoUnattend.xml on the ROOT of available media is be read and processed.

Is this correct?




Not exactly... There are 3 other places that setup will look first before going to media. This TechNet Article explains the implicit search order for answer files. When it does get down to the media locations, it searches in drive letter order.

If you mount the ISO, can you find an 'Install.wim' file (I am unfamiliar with the Dell disc, so pardon me if I'm incorrect)? If so, you might be able to pull the wim file off the DVD, use ImageX to mount it and replace the answer file with your own, then create a new ISO with the modified wim file.


Hope this helps,

David

Windows Outreach Team - IT pro

#6
jaclaz

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If so, you might be able to pull the wim file off the DVD, use ImageX to mount it and replace the answer file with your own, then create a new ISO with the modified wim file.

Well, the mentioned article actually says:

Mount and Modify an Image

With the ImageX tool, the Windows Imaging File System Filter (WIM FS Filter), and a Windows image (.wim) file, you can map the contents of the image to a directory and perform common file operations, such as copying, pasting, and editing with a file management tool (such as Windows Explorer) without extracting or recreating the image. You can mount an image only from Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), or Windows Vista.


Does imagex work with later versions of windows (BOTH running from them and managing their images)? :unsure:

jaclaz

#7
WinOutreach4

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My apologies, I linked to the article written for Windows Vista... Here is the proper version of the article

http://technet.micro...4(v=ws.10).aspx

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

#8
HerbM

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My Understanding: an AutoUnattend.xml on the ROOT of available media is be read and processed.

Is this correct?




Not exactly... There are 3 other places that setup will look first before going to media. This TechNet Article explains the implicit search order for answer files. When it does get down to the media locations, it searches in drive letter order.

If you mount the ISO, can you find an 'Install.wim' file (I am unfamiliar with the Dell disc, so pardon me if I'm incorrect)? If so, you might be able to pull the wim file off the DVD, use ImageX to mount it and replace the answer file with your own, then create a new ISO with the modified wim file.



I understand there are 'other' locations, that is no the thrust fo the question (exclusivity) -- My question is whether all roots were checked -- my testing say the answer is "yes".

Not using a Dell disk --- what disk do you mean? Without mention of Dell, I would have thought you meant MS Windows 2008 disk.

I briefly tried to use the WIM from the install DVD -- but I didn't spend enogh time to become fully expert enough to know if I did it correctly.

It's good idea, but I will be just "hacking" until I learn more of the details.

Thanks for the response.

#9
HerbM

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I am going to read that article -- I now have at least one bootable (on his machine) WinPE.

Proof of concept I can build another with my own features to run a script, rebuild the combined XML files, replace the Dell version, and reboot-to/start the actual install while the drivers are there.

Likely the drivers are on a "timer" -- they stay connect for some time not a fixed number of boots, and certainly not just "1 boot"

That was good news.

Also, I have found the bypass for the "OS check" when provisioning the drivers -- the iDRAC provisions drivers for a particular OS and then CHECKS to see if the OS is present, but there is a bypass if your OS doesn't (actually) match or if you are going to connect that real OS later.

Again, Thanks.

#10
WinOutreach4

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HerbM,

I apologize for the confusion. There was a Dell.xml file mentioned, so I thought it was a disc that Dell customized and shipped with the server.

Now that you have a bootable WindowsPE disk, boot to that WindowsPE disk and call setup.exe with the /unattend switch. The article that I linked above with the implicit search order has a paragraph on "Explicitly specifying an Answer file".


Hope this helps,
David

Windows Outreach Team - IT Pro

#11
HerbM

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HerbM,

I apologize for the confusion. There was a Dell.xml file mentioned, so I thought it was a disc that Dell customized and shipped with the server.

Now that you have a bootable WindowsPE disk, boot to that WindowsPE disk and call setup.exe with the /unattend switch. The article that I linked above with the implicit search order has a paragraph on "Explicitly specifying an Answer file".


Hope this helps,
David

Windows Outreach Team - IT Pro


Quite alright, that confusion is due to my trying to distinguish multiple 'autounattend.xml' files -- I called on the Dell.xml just as (poorly chosen).

Yes, I will call setup and specify the file, but first I must 'merge' the settings from the 2 files. My file and the Dell provided autounattend.xml

It is the only way to deal fully with 2 WindowsPE sections both having critical information.

Edited by HerbM, 15 September 2012 - 12:30 PM.





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