Installing a Windows XP unattended without the need for all these registry files & tweaks.
I hope with this thread/guide to bring up a discussion.
Should we prefer the use a “default user” profile or is the way we create an unattended until now enough and does it offers/have the best options to a perfect unattended.
Recently I stumbled on a few threats lead or answered by `Felix` and jrzycrim and many others that discussed entering some tweaks to the default user profile and use that as a base for unattended installations. I know that there are other ways to create an unattended CD than the one we are creating, I mean the MSFN Unattende guide.
I am never afraid to explore new possibilities so that’s why I then started to play with the idea why are we not creating a default user profile and use that not only as the base but also as the final “user profile” for our unattended cd/dvd.
Whenever a user logs on (the first time), Windows copies the settings from the Default User profile (located at Documents and Settings\Default User) to the newly created user profile. In other words, the Default User profile is as a template which Windows uses in order to initialize new profiles/logins.
After logging in the first time, the user customizes the settings as required. In my case, some of the settings include the following:
• Turning off the Windows Tour
• Disabling the balloon tips
• Enabling the Quick Launch
• Adding/Removing icons to Quick Launch bar
• Settings for Wallpaper, Display and Appearance and Themes
• Internet Options - Settings in the Advanced & Security tabs, SearchURL preferences, TIF to 40MB, Zonemap Domains list for Restricted, Trusted sites.
• Creating shortcuts on the Desktop for various applications
• Search companion settings (I prefer the classic search)
• Adding or removing the icons in the Desktop
• Prevent Windows Messenger from starting automatically ("PreventAutoRun" key to 1)
and so on..................
What could be the advantage of this approach I asked myself?
To be honest, what could be simpler then to maintain only one profile visually and in a real working environment?
And, I noticed recently and with the arrival of SP2 that fiddling with reg-files, inf’s and batches again requires a lot work. My reg-files are a collection of tweaks I gathered left and right, unordered and very difficult to oversee. Cleaning and changing them requires a lot of work.
You need to think about adding, deleting some obsolete tweaks, checking if they still work under different condition and service packs, ect…
I thought id share my experience with the MSFN community so at least somebody can learn something from it. So I went on reading as match I could about that Default User profile and started for hours and days experimenting with it.
The result is that I have an unattended DVD with all my software, fully tweaked to my taste and requirements.
All I needed was my version of XP, SP2, my software unattended and the default user profile that I created earlier and some cmd files for copying and cleaning after installation.
I did need some registry settings, especially for local machine stuff and for settings, you cannot tune by the user interface, as they are I Explorer for example. I never did needed one registry file for user or desktop specified customization during my unattended install. Not even for inserting serial numbers or software specific keys.
2. Start to tweak the newly created user completely to your taste and requirements.
3. Copied the profile to the “default user” account of that machine, here is a guide…the guide
4. Copied specific user files to the “all users” account, especially if you have lots of desktop icons
5. Copied these profiles to our unattended folder structure under $OEM$\$docs.
You only need few files and folders from the default user profile depending on Quick
Launch icons and shortcuts. Usually I copy these: $oem$\$Docs\Default
User\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick launch, $docs\Default
User\Desktop, $docs\Default User\Start Menu\Programs and everything under it. And
Most important the “ntuser.dat” that’s the one with all the settings. For the All User I
usually copy these: $docs\All Users\Desktop and docs\All Users\Start
Menu\Programs with everything under it
6. Make your iso and burn the CD orDVD
7. Start your unattended install, wait til it finish, logon and.
8. Give your user the required rights and your…
Now if you need an update to that profile, just repeat step 2 to 9
Simple but fast.
I do hope that some more information becomes available so I can even more design and fine-tune what I already have and can share more experience with you all.
I do not say that everything is possible with this kind of installations so don’t flame me. There are cases you need specific local machine tweaks.
There are surely cases where you need a reg-file or inf injected during your unattended. I do not need them right now for my unattended but everybody’s case is different. I only say that this approach made my maintenance fare simpler then before.