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Unattended windows xp installation without 'Press any key..'

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#1
jduk

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Hello,

I have a unattended windows cd made using nlite.

I am trying to get rid of the press any key prompt to boot the cd but havent found a way to do this.

If i use nlite to remove the prompt the cd will just loop through the setup every time the PC reboots.

** In the bios the cdrom drive must be set to boot first **

Is there a custom cd rom bootloader that will get around this annoying limitation, to allow true unattended installation with no user interaction whatsoever. (Hint: I have alot of pcs to auto install)


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#2
-X-

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nLite is for personal use only.

Download all Windows XP Post SP3 High-Priority Updates with a simple double click @ xdot.tk post-12166-0-42859000-1399044129.png ]
               If someone helps you fix a problem, please report back so they and others can benefit from the solution. Thanks!


#3
jaclaz

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nLite is for personal use only.

Which doesn't mean that one might own a lot of personal computers :whistle: .

In any case, if the question is:

How can I remove the "press any key prompt to boot the cd" WITHOUT using nlite?


The answer is:
Delete from source BOOTFIX.BIN, or change the bootsector or .... see:
http://www.msfn.org/...xp-boot-option/
http://www.msfn.org/...s-hdd-is-blank/
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=19987



jaclaz

#4
jduk

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Thanks jaclaz

Looks like I would have to have a bootmanager check if the hdd was still in 'Windows Setup Mode' and bypass the CD in that case and boot CD in all other cases.

No idea how to do this tho :S

Can bootmanagers check existence of certains files on the hdd? If so I could try and detect a temp file/folder used while windows is still in setup mode.

#5
jaclaz

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Looks like I would have to have a bootmanager check if the hdd was still in 'Windows Setup Mode' and bypass the CD in that case and boot CD in all other cases.

I cannot see a reason for this.
With a "normal", "attended" CD the procedure is simple and there are only two possible cases:
  • new (or wiped) disk (no MBR/no partitions) -> Bootfix is NOT invoked at first boot, then text mode setup is run -> MBR and partition made, AND formatted AND setup files copied to hard disk -> bootfix is invoked to allow - if needed - to STOP the installing (the procedure is that second boot comes from hard disk, and the bootfix.bin is there because after text mode you should boot from HD, and without it (or changing the BIOS boot order) the install would start again from CD, which is wrong.
  • if you are re-installing, the bootfix.bin is invoked on first boot, you press the any key, and you enter the needed, F8, etc., then you can go away as the mechanism will reboot second time, noone will press the key and second boot will work as designed, then you will need to be back in - say - 15 to 30 minutes to input the other info that needs to be input on the GUI mode part .

In unattended mode, #1 you need to press nothing, in #2 you need to press the key ONCE at first boot (and anyway *someone* must be there to insert the CD, change BIOS order if needed, actually connect the machine to mains, etc.), once you have pressed it you can walk away and come back later just to check if everything went OK.

WHAT is the problem? :unsure:

Can bootmanagers check existence of certains files on the hdd? If so I could try and detect a temp file/folder used while windows is still in setup mode.

Sure, grub4dos as an example, can do *almost anything*.

jaclaz

#6
jduk

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I want the simplest possible unattended scenario for the user (dummy) :)

The pc is only connected to power and ethernet.

I want the user to be able to power on the machine, open the cd tray, put cd in, close and reboot.

When my unattended cd completes it opens the cd tray and beeps to alert the user, who then removes the cd, closes the tray thus stopping the cd from being booted on reboot.

There is no keyboard or monitor to wait for and press the 'any' key :)

The hdd can be blank or have a previous xp install

#7
bphlpt

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Sorry, I agree with jaclaz. The current, normal situation is already the simplest possible unattended scenario for the user. If the user is working on a system with a blank HDD then the user just has to start the computer and load the CD and press nothing at all. If the user is working on a system with a existing XP install in place, then they will have to do the "Press any key" bit once, when first started, and nothing else at all. I know you say your user is a dummy, but how big an id*** are they to not be able to follow that one instruction? (No offense meant.) Yes, grub4dos or something could be used to do almost anything, but why is that necessary? it will be a very specialized application, and definitely not for use in the home. Especially considering your comments of "no keyboard or monitor" and "I have alot of pcs to auto install". Considering that you have already admitted that you have an "unattended windows cd made using nlite", I'm going to also agree with -X- in his admonition that nLite is for home use only and suggest that this thread be locked. It seems you have already violated nLite's EULA.

Cheers and Regards

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#8
jduk

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I am using nlite for personal use. By 'alot of pcs' i mean single digit numbers and some of these pcs need reinstalled frequently. I am also not at my home all the time and need someone (old family member/completely computer illiterate) to stick the cd in (with me on the phone telling them what to do lol).

Telling someone on the phone to stick a cd in the pc and leave it,

vs

Me: connect vga cable,
Dummy: whats that?
Me: the cable that goes to the screen
Dummy: oh ok..wait a min

(2mins later)

Dummy: ok, i think thats it
Me: ok, now connect the keyboard
Dummy: mmm, wait 1 min

(3 mins later)

Dummy: ok
Me: ok, turn the computer on, you need to press any key when it says that on the screen
Dummy: ok, turning on
Me: ok
Dummy: Ok, it says press any key, but where is any key?
Me: ...
Me: just press d (for Dummy)
Dummy: ok, i pressed d, now i see a windows picture
(Dummy has not pressed it quick enough and has skipped cd boot)
Me: eh ok, you will need to press it quicker next time, ok lets try again....find the reset switch on the front...

(10mins later)

Get my point?

Edited by jduk, 23 January 2013 - 08:39 AM.


#9
Ponch

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What an incredibly nice family story. I like to call my relatives "users" or "dummies", it makes me feel close to them. :thumbup
Why does the CD have to stay 1st boot device ? Does your administrator one of your relatives say so ? :angel

#10
jaclaz

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But then, if you are positive that the peep there WILL remove the CD, all you have to do is to remove the BOOTFIX.BIN from the CD.

Making a grub4dos based CD that checks *something* on hard disk is perfectly possible of course, only, if your CD already opens he CD tray and beeps it sounds, it seems to me overkill.

If you need help with grub4dos, just say so.


jaclaz

#11
Kelsenellenelvian

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Let me think:

They (Your "Family") will somehow know in their limited PC knowledge that a tower without monitor or keyboard is no longer working?

I have seen some high quality Swiss cheese that has less holes in it.

Don't bullsh*t us it is not our first rodeo.

Explain to us what the actual purpose of a freshly installed pc without monitor or keyboard? (Especially to your dummy family and friends)

#12
submix8c

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http://en.wikipedia....Headless_system
http://www.techopedi...adless-computer
Via RDP BUT... -
http://control.com/thread/1026235771

WinXP-Pro lets you remotely access the headless computer's desktop through RDP, so it shouldn't be a problem to manage. But this service is not installed by default.

There can be problems in headless operation specific to particular PC hardware. You need to check if the particular BIOS you will be using can be set to ignore missing keyboards and monitors (some will stop and report an error and wait for you to "press a key to continue").


The "family scenario" given makes no sense.

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#13
jduk

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What an incredibly nice family story. I like to call my relatives "users" or "dummies", it makes me feel close to them. :thumbup
Why does the CD have to stay 1st boot device ? Does your administrator one of your relatives say so ? :angel


Thanks :thumbup

I have setup the PC's beforehand to boot cd-rom first so I can ring them up to put the CD in and know it will work.


But then, if you are positive that the peep there WILL remove the CD, all you have to do is to remove the BOOTFIX.BIN from the CD.

Making a grub4dos based CD that checks *something* on hard disk is perfectly possible of course, only, if your CD already opens he CD tray and beeps it sounds, it seems to me overkill.

If you need help with grub4dos, just say so.


jaclaz


the problem removing bootfix.bin is after 1st reboot the CD will boot setup again and this will continue in a loop

actually thank you for mentioning grub4dos. I have customised the menu.lst to allow for proper 100% unattended install so problem solved :-)


Let me think:

They (Your "Family") will somehow know in their limited PC knowledge that a tower without monitor or keyboard is no longer working?

I have seen some high quality Swiss cheese that has less holes in it.

Don't bullsh*t us it is not our first rodeo.

Explain to us what the actual purpose of a freshly installed pc without monitor or keyboard? (Especially to your dummy family and friends)


I ring them to tell them to put the CD for that pc in its drive and reboot. most of the time I will be there anyway to stick the CD in and go do something else more productive.

lots of purposes for a pc without monitor considering I can rdp and vnc into the machine...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headless_system
http://www.techopedi...adless-computer
Via RDP BUT... -
http://control.com/thread/1026235771

WinXP-Pro lets you remotely access the headless computer's desktop through RDP, so it shouldn't be a problem to manage. But this service is not installed by default.

There can be problems in headless operation specific to particular PC hardware. You need to check if the particular BIOS you will be using can be set to ignore missing keyboards and monitors (some will stop and report an error and wait for you to "press a key to continue").


The "family scenario" given makes no sense.


BIOS is set to ignore keyboard errors and nlite has option to enable rdp plus my custom script makes sure pc is accessible from my main pc so it does make sense.

how does the family scenario not make sense. a lot of people live with families...

anyway, like I said I have built a solution with grub4dos to fully automate this without 'press any key'

I thought this would of been a useful feature to discuss and offer other peeps interested in fully unattended nlite installs but I guess not. :-(

Edited by jduk, 23 January 2013 - 06:28 PM.


#14
bphlpt

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If you think it could be useful, and have come up with a solution, would you mind sharing? I would also be interested to know the uses you have come up with for your headless systems in the home, not just theoretical ones but ones you have actually implemented and found useful. I have several old systems, in pieces, available that I might could cannibalize and add a few things to and maybe make a working system out of if I had something worthwhile that it could do. I don't have an extra monitor, so a headless system would be good, if it had a practical use.

Cheers and Regards

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#15
submix8c

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(heh...) My POINT was you keep talking about your "family" at remote locations and then proceed to say that they hook up Keyboard/Monitor to install (whatever) and then talk about "headless systems" (first several posts). THAT makes no sense. What good is a Remote Headless System to a "family member"? Seriously.... It REALLY sounds like you want to ship this "CD/DVD" to "someone" that has "headless systems" in place and you wish to install/upgrade since (WOW!!!) the BIOS would HAVE to be entered to disable said peripherals, correct?

Makes absolutely NO sense! SERIOUSLY sounds like you have "family" at remote locations with "headless systems" that YOU use Remotely for some (unknown) purpose.

Attached File  makes no sense.jpg   64.9KB   6 downloads

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#16
jduk

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(heh...) My POINT was you keep talking about your "family" at remote locations and then proceed to say that they hook up Keyboard/Monitor to install (whatever) and then talk about "headless systems" (first several posts). THAT makes no sense. What good is a Remote Headless System to a "family member"? Seriously.... It REALLY sounds like you want to ship this "CD/DVD" to "someone" that has "headless systems" in place and you wish to install/upgrade since (WOW!!!) the BIOS would HAVE to be entered to disable said peripherals, correct?

Makes absolutely NO sense! SERIOUSLY sounds like you have "family" at remote locations with "headless systems" that YOU use Remotely for some (unknown) purpose.

Attached File  makes no sense.jpg   64.9KB   6 downloads


Attached File  3390182310_f86c82cb95.jpg   29.32KB   1 downloads

Beam me up outta here Scotty! :lol:





















Apologies if I didn't explain the original problem in a better way, but since I have found a solution and no-one else cares (apart from bphlpt, who I am happy to help) there's, no sense - as you put it :thumbup , trying to explain again.

Edited by jduk, 25 January 2013 - 07:21 AM.


#17
jduk

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If you think it could be useful, and have come up with a solution, would you mind sharing? I would also be interested to know the uses you have come up with for your headless systems in the home, not just theoretical ones but ones you have actually implemented and found useful. I have several old systems, in pieces, available that I might could cannibalize and add a few things to and maybe make a working system out of if I had something worthwhile that it could do. I don't have an extra monitor, so a headless system would be good, if it had a practical use.

Cheers and Regards


Basically, I just followed a guide for nLite to get an unattended cd for each pc with necessary drivers etc loaded and there is an option there to enable remote desktop. I also have a custom script to execute on RunOnce to install vnc and some other useful tools aswell.

The BIOS is set to boot cd first and to ignore keyboard errors.

I then installed grub4dos bootloader as jaclaz mentioned. I built a custom menu.lst to check for the presence of a setup file on the hdd that only exists while windows xp setup is running.

If this file exists, then boot from that hdd else boot the xp setup cd.

This will ensure windows xp setup can survive the reboots and complete normally.

Edited by jduk, 25 January 2013 - 06:53 AM.


#18
Explorer09

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(heh...) My POINT was you keep talking about your "family" at remote locations and then proceed to say that they hook up Keyboard/Monitor to install (whatever) and then talk about "headless systems" (first several posts). THAT makes no sense. What good is a Remote Headless System to a "family member"? Seriously.... It REALLY sounds like you want to ship this "CD/DVD" to "someone" that has "headless systems" in place and you wish to install/upgrade since (WOW!!!) the BIOS would HAVE to be entered to disable said peripherals, correct?

Makes absolutely NO sense! SERIOUSLY sounds like you have "family" at remote locations with "headless systems" that YOU use Remotely for some (unknown) purpose.


jduk does make sense, although I don't like this. His application is at the gray area of nLite's EULA, and I believe there's a better way to achieve this.

What jduk wants is to deploy several remote headless machines with nLited OS, and (at the time) he cannot physically access the machines. So he want as little work as possible for his "family members" who helps him.

By "as little work as possible" he means to just put the CD, turn on the computer, and then wait until the installation finishes and reboots.

Do I explain this right?

Edited by Explorer09, 26 January 2013 - 12:13 AM.


#19
bphlpt

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Correct.

Cheers and Regards

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#20
jaclaz

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I then installed grub4dos bootloader as jaclaz mentioned. I built a custom menu.lst to check for the presence of a setup file on the hdd that only exists while windows xp setup is running.

Well, no. :no:
jaclaz did NOT suggest to install grub4dos anywhere, his suggestion was to use grldr as the no-emulation bootsector of the actual CD.
And of course sharing the actual EXACT specific menu.lst you put up would be actually "sharing" your solution. :yes:

Anyway, the main thing is that your problem was solved. :thumbup

jaclaz

#21
jduk

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(heh...) My POINT was you keep talking about your "family" at remote locations and then proceed to say that they hook up Keyboard/Monitor to install (whatever) and then talk about "headless systems" (first several posts). THAT makes no sense. What good is a Remote Headless System to a "family member"? Seriously.... It REALLY sounds like you want to ship this "CD/DVD" to "someone" that has "headless systems" in place and you wish to install/upgrade since (WOW!!!) the BIOS would HAVE to be entered to disable said peripherals, correct?

Makes absolutely NO sense! SERIOUSLY sounds like you have "family" at remote locations with "headless systems" that YOU use Remotely for some (unknown) purpose.


jduk does make sense, although I don't like this. His application is at the gray area of nLite's EULA, and I believe there's a better way to achieve this.

What jduk wants is to deploy several remote headless machines with nLited OS, and (at the time) he cannot physically access the machines. So he want as little work as possible for his "family members" who helps him.

By "as little work as possible" he means to just put the CD, turn on the computer, and then wait until the installation finishes and reboots.

Do I explain this right?


Yes - I have machines at home, if they need re-installed i don't want to sit at a machine for an 1hr doing this myself or if i am at work or away for a couple of days i want someone else to handle it easily.

I don't need nLite anyway, its not adding anything in my use-case, and will just use native WINNT.SIF customization to build an unattended cd for each pc




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