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Installing Unattended from a USB Thumb Drive

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17 replies to this topic

#1
pdmcmahon

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I have my standard CD source directory which I manipulate with nLite and then make an ISO from that. My question is, how do I get the files onto a USB drive and make it bootable so that I can install the OS from there instead of constantly burning CDs every time I make a minor update to my source?


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#2
jaclaz

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Read this:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=16980
and these:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=17425
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=18031

Basically your windows setup on a .ISO file behaves exactly as a BartPE loaded in RAM (with files from Windows Server 2003 SP1 and later - i.e. the /minint switch)

Hope that you can get the hang of it from those threads.

Another method would be to to install on the Stick either Dos 7.x or win9.x, or even a smallish BartPE and use WINNT or WINNT32 to start the install see this:
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=47125


jaclaz

#3
pdmcmahon

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So then I load the core files or do I just drop the ISO file on there?

#4
jaclaz

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So then I load the core files or do I just drop the ISO file on there?

:w00t:
Sorry, I really cannot understand ....

jaclaz

#5
Major

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it would be very kind of your part if you can to post a little manual how to do it, because i have read those posts you have posted but i have not understand it well. i want to do Unattended installation from my USB external HDD.

Thanks very much

#6
Biohead

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I agree. It would be nice to have a copy of XP on thumbdrive as I have many different versions which are changed by a simple file (OEM, Retail etc and PreActivation files).

The thing about the other forum is that its all cluttered and there isn't a concise guide on how to do it.
Beware the evil donkey falling slowly from the sky. You can choose the way you live my friend, but not the way you die!

Moral: You can plan, but they will never be followed perfectly.

#7
jaclaz

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@Major
@Biohead

Well, actually it is something (booting attended and/or unattended) from a USB stick, that I do not need to do, as I rarely re-install, and regularly use Virtual Machines for test builds until I am relatively confident that the time to burn a CD-RW is not worsted.

Besides, it is known that USB booting has a very large numbers of variables, so that it is quite difficult to make a one-size-fits-all solution, see just this one of the numerous trhreads by me on the matter:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=18266


To this you add that there are at least 4 possible ways to install XP:
1) from a booted 16-bit environment through WINNT.EXE
2) from a booted 32-bit environment through WINNT32.EXE
3) from a \I386 or \minint folder by invoking SETUPLDR.BIN (which is what the normal install CD does)
4) from an "expanded" pre-install bootfolder $WIN_NT$.~BT like in the flyakite multiboot DVD tutorial

to which you can add:
5) from an .iso using Windows Server 2003 Sp1 or greater SETUPLDR.BIN and RAMDISK.SY_ a method that needing a HUGE amount of RAM for a RAMDISK, requires most probably at least 1Gb of Ram installed (which I don't have)

And the innumerable variants the user makes to the install files by using nlite or other "tweaking" software, plus the requests for AIO's, multibooting etc. without even trying to begin from the start. :(

From time to time, a user here or on 911CD, asks for this thing, and after having advised him that it can be a troublesome path, I start trying to help.

Usually, after a few back and forth posts, the user simply disappears or drops the matter.

Maybe it is me, or the extremely boring way I make suggestions, ;) or maybe it is simply because some people just want to have what they want with one click solutions.

A complete step by step guide for installing XP from a USB stick, 1) in the shortlist above, using 16 bit Winnt.exe has been posted here:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=16713

For method 2) I suggest a build of Winbuilder/picoXP:
http://www.boot-land.net/

For method 3) there is the thread at 911cd:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=17425
"abandoned" by the original requester

For method 4) it should be just a matter of adapting flyakite steps to USB sticks

For method 5) there is a lack of people with adequate hardware willing to experiment

At0mic has posted a "tutorial" that I won't comment in this similar thread:
http://www.msfn.org/...topic=82856&hl=


So, here is the deal, if you two, or any other member, is willing to really try doing any of the above, and then write a simple, straightforward tutorial, I am here to help with the basics, the theory and practical ways regarding the part I am interested in, i.e. the formatting and booting or otherwise starting SETUPLDR.BIN or the install of XP from a USB stick. For AIO's, Unattended and multiple systems choice, it is not really my field of experience and knowledge.

Any taker ?

jaclaz

#8
cdob

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I failed at item 3 and 5.
Setupldr.bin does boot, however request a CD-ROM later.

Yes, item 4 \$WIN_NT$.~BT and \$WIN_NT$.~LS does work at USB, at least almost.

My experience:

At first step use a empty USB drive.

Make local source files
winnt32.exe /makelocalsource /noreboot

Copy files and folders to USB Stick

\txtsetup.sif
\$WIN_NT$.~BT
\$WIN_NT$.~BT\migrate.inf
\$WIN_NT$.~BT\winnt.inf
\$WIN_NT$.~LS

There is grub4dos at USB Stick: menu.lst

title boot - /$WIN_NT$.~BT/setupldr.bin
chainloader /$WIN_NT$.~BT/setupldr.bin



Next step, let's use unique names:

gsar -i -o -sminint -rdummy:x00 setupldr.bin

gsar -i -o -swinnt.sif -rwin01.sif setupldr.bin

gsar -i -o -stxtsetup.sif -rtxtset01.sif setupldr.bin

gsar -i -o -s$WIN_NT$.~BT -r$WIN_XP$.~BT setupldr.bin

\txtset01.sif
[SetupData]
SetupSourcePath = "\$WIN_XP$\"

Existing files

\txtset01.sif
\$WIN_XP$.~BT
\$WIN_XP$.~BT\win01.inf
\$WIN_XP$

This failed. Setup dosn't find installation files at \$WIN_XP$\.

Change unicode string $WIN_NT$ to $WIN_XP$:
expand -r setupdd.sy_
del setupdd.sy_
gsar -i -o -s$:x00W:x00I:x00N:x00_:x00N:x00T:x00$:x00.:x00~:x00L:x00S:x00 -r$:x00W:x00I:x00N:x00_:x00X:x00P:x00$:x00.:x00~:x00L:x00S:x00 setupdd.sys

Existing files

\txtset01.sif
\$WIN_XP$.~BT
\$WIN_XP$.~BT\win01.inf
\$WIN_XP$.~LS


menu.lst
title boot - /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin
chainloader /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin

I booted machine, pressed F12 and selected boot device USB drive.
And installed winodws to c: (internal hard disk, first primary partition).

At end of installation, setup clean USB drive: \$WIN_XP$.~LS is deleted :(

First reboot failed.
c:\boot.ini
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS
rdisk(0) is not used.

BIOS change hard disk order at selecting USB boot device: rdisk(1) is internal hard disk
BIOS set default order at next boot from hard disk : rdisk(0) is internal hard disk

After editing c:\boot.ini, winodws is installed.
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS


Next step, swap hard disk order
menu.lst
title boot - /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin
map (hd1) (hd0)
map (hd0) (hd1)
chainloader /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin
This failed, setupldr.bin dosn't find txtset01.sif anymore.

#9
jaclaz

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cdob,
there is another ongoing thread here:
http://www.msfn.org/...topic=61384&hl=

Problems found appear to be the same ones.

I think that the hd exchange should be made before, as to make sure that the First Hard disk on system (the one you install XP) remains C: and thus boot.ini would be correct:
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS

Though there is a report here:
http://www.911cd.net...o...18031&st=20

that makes one think that setupldr.bin/ntdetect.com gave to be on first hard drive.

Maybe one could map the USB stick partition to a floppy and the IDE hard disk to hd0, see the other thread.

Could you post your migrate.inf file?

Maybe the solution could be a modified version of it, together with a hd exchange in Grub4dos before.

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 13 November 2006 - 06:04 AM.


#10
cdob

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Short notice, busy. No further tests so far.

I deleted file migrate.inf at \$WIN_XP$.~BT in the past.
Migrate.inf contain MountedDevices settings. This may work at one machine only.
I booted from USB stick, but internal hard disk got drive letter c:

Thanks for crosslinks.

KB234048 does describe this behavior:
Internal hard disk is the first fixed hard disk. Active primary partitions get letter c:

This create a question:
What about a clean hard disk without any partition?

Back to step 5: ISO loaded RAM image:
I tried \I386 in the past. This failed.

I'm wondering:
What about a image containing \txtsetup.sif, \$WIN_NT$.~BT and \$WIN_NT$.~LS?

Idea:
Dosn't grub4dos load hd images in RAM too?
Dietmar, where are you?

#11
cdob

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I integrated and edited my migrate.inf.
Now this file contain USB stick lettter only.
[Version]
Signature = "$Windows NT$"

[Addreg]
HKLM,"SYSTEM\MountedDevices",,0x00000010
HKLM,"SYSTEM\MountedDevices","\DosDevices\U:",0x00030001,\
	 5c,00,3f,00,3f,00,5c,00,53,00,54,00,4f,00,52,00,41,00,47,00,45,00,23,00,52,\
	 00,65,00,6d,00,6f,00,76,00,61,00,62,00,6c,00,65,00,4d,00,65,00,64,00,69,00,\
	 61,00,23,00,37,00,26,00,31,00,64,00,64,00,65,00,34,00,37,00,39,00,65,00,26,\
	 00,30,00,26,00,52,00,4d,00,23,00,7b,00,35,00,33,00,66,00,35,00,36,00,33,00,\
	 30,00,64,00,2d,00,62,00,36,00,62,00,66,00,2d,00,31,00,31,00,64,00,30,00,2d,\
	 00,39,00,34,00,66,00,32,00,2d,00,30,00,30,00,61,00,30,00,63,00,39,00,31,00,\
	 65,00,66,00,62,00,38,00,62,00,7d,00
This works, setup set drive letter U: for USB stick.
A fixed letter U: may be useful later: load PNP driver from USB stick.

Though there is a report here:
http://www.911cd.net...o...18031&st=20
that makes one think that setupldr.bin/ntdetect.com gave to be on first hard drive.

Dosn't this example boot from internal hard disk and map USB stick?
This change USB drive to first hard drive. Setupldr.bin find files at hd0 now.

However a USB booted drive is mapped by BIOS to hd0 already.
I like to map USB stick to hd1, internal hard disk to hd0.
And launch setupldr.bin from hd1 then.

Setupldr.bin may behave different in minint mode and in installation mode too.

title boot - /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin map (hd1) (hd0)
map (hd1) (hd0)
chainloader /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin
Txtset01.inf not found.

title  /$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin on USB stick (hd0) (fd0)
map (hd0,0)+1 (fd0)
map --hook
map --floppies=1
chainloader (fd0)/$WIN_XP$.~BT/setupldr.bin
Ntdetect failed.

Known: chainloading bootsector files at ntldr/boot.ini does work too.
But this is acroos one hard disk, the same or different partition.

Maybe chainloading bootsector files at USB stick is usefull too.
Contrary setupldr.bin might seek files at hd0 still.
I doubt this idea at second glance.


Different term: RAM Loaded Image:

Intermediate success: method 5 RAM loaded image does work.
Adapt flyakites multiboot DVD tutorial.

ISO image XP.ISO contains:

\I386
\I386\TXTSETUP.SIF
\$WIN_NT$.~LS


Txtsetup.sif SetupSourcePath
[SetupData]
SetupSourcePath ="\$WIN_NT$.~LS\"

Part of winnt.sif
[SetupData] 
BootDevice = "ramdisk(0)" 
BootPath = "\I386\" 
OsLoadOptions = "/noguiboot /fastdetect /rdexportascd /rdpath=XP.ISO"

[Data]
MsDosInitiated = "1"
Setup find files, dosn't ask for CD ROM anymore and copied files to hard disk.
Because of time I truncated at this point, full test has to follow.

A NTFS compressed SDI image may be possible too.
But what's the point? Windows source files are compressed still.
Hot fix integration may be a point. However this increase RAM requirements.

Some answers, but list of questions grows each day.

#12
jaclaz

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KB234048 does describe this behavior:
Internal hard disk is the first fixed hard disk. Active primary partitions get letter c:

This create a question:
What about a clean hard disk without any partition?

This poses another problem, if I read correctly the KB, it talks about fixed hard disk, not about internal ones, while it makes a distinction of JAZ,ZIP and MO.

It is most probable, that just like it was found out by Dietmar, some differences exist if the USB Mass Storage device is seen as "fixed" or as "removable", one might need somehow to install a filter driver during setup.

Intermediate success: method 5 RAM loaded image does work.

Good work! :)

jaclaz

#13
cdob

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Setup find files, dosn't ask for CD ROM anymore and copied files to hard disk.
Because of time I truncated at this point, full test has to follow.

Continued:
They are no files deleted.
Well, maybe files are deleted inside a RAM loaded (SDI) image. But who cares?

At reboot windows setup does work.
No files are requested. XP got installed.


some differences exist if the USB Mass Storage device is seen as "fixed" or as "removable", one might need somehow to install a filter driver during setup.

Yes, a "fixed" USB Mass Storage device may get a prefered drive letter.

And given a empty harddisk without a partition, USB stick may get letter C:
Windows %SystemDrive% may get letter D:
Of course, this dosn't break windows. But a lot of user expect windows at C:

There comes the preset USB drive letter at migrate.inf.

#14
jaclaz

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cdob,
how big is the image, and how much RAM do you expect to be needed for this?

Idea:
Dosn't grub4dos load hd images in RAM too?

Well, actually, no, but in latest releases there is a hmload.com tool that works that way.

With "normal" DOS (or Linux for that matter), you boot to DOS, execute the hmload.com with the appropriate parameters this is an example:

hmload -diskima.ima -a128


and it does a raw-copy of the given image file in RAM, i.e to the (rd) Grub4DOS device, then you invoke grub.exe from DOS, using parameters like:

map --ram-drive=0x81
map --rd-base=0x8000000
map --rd-size=0x400000
root (rd,0)
chainloader +1

or

map --rd-base=0x8000000
map --rd-size=0x400000
map (rd) (hd0,0)
root (hd0,0)
chainloader +1


(I am not 100% sure about latest syntax, I haven't right now handy the Grub4dos setup I had working)

But I cannot say if it would work with a NT based syste, unless, you are right:

Dietmar, where are you?


Dietmar doesn't give us some more details about his ramdisk method described here:
http://www.911cd.net...o...c=18326&hl=
or some one finds another way, or try using one of the other programs....

...also, in the same thread there is a reference to direct SDI booting from Grub4DOS, if you have time, can you try it and report?


jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 17 November 2006 - 11:37 AM.


#15
cdob

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how big is the image, and how much RAM do you expect to be needed for this?

Sorry, I've to disappoint you, I misleaded myself.
Method 5 dosn't work.
Image is loaded in RAM, txtsetup.sif is processed.
However files are copied from hard disk c:\$WIN_NT$.~LS.

Conclusion:
Setup copies files from a BIOS device.
A 2003 setupldr.bin ramdisk dosn't fit in.

If BIOS support is required, I doubt a ramdisk work at all.

As known, $WIN_NT$.~BT does work at USB stick. However files are deleted.
Idea: a write filter driver like fbwf may help.

Free time: I won't try USB install anymore this year.

#16
jaclaz

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Free time: I won't try USB install anymore this year.

That's a pity, I am convinced that by giving a RAMdisk in BIOS (ideas in my post above) it can be done.... :huh:

I'll have to do some serious search on how to "hook" the hmload ramdisk with the XP ramdisk.sys driver....

jaclaz

#17
snowden

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I use a 1GB USB stick for windows installation all the time.

See here:
http://www.msfn.org/...p...st&p=652806

Hope it is of some help to someone! :)

Edited by snowden, 07 May 2007 - 12:10 PM.


#18
jaclaz

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@snowden

If I may, it would be better if you do not double post, and simply give links to the thread where you posted:
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=82856

This way users can easily find the interconnections between different threads. :)

jaclaz




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