Perform and troubleshoot an unattended installation of Windows XP Professional.
An unattended installation is designed to allow administrators to setup the options and parameters required for the operating system installation. Unattended installations are used for a number of reasons, primarily, they are used to ensure systems are built consistently to reduce the number of support calls.
Before we begin discussing unattended installations, let’s define some terms associated with an unattended install:
Setup Manager A program that creates answer files and distribution shares for unattended installations. Setup Manager (Setupmgr.exe) is included in the Deploy.cab file in the Support folder on the Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003 operating system CDs.
Unattend.txt The default name of the answer file that you use to automate Windows Setup during an unattended installation. Unattend.txt contains headings and parameters that instruct Setup to perform various configuration tasks.
Winnt.sif The name you give Unattend.txt when you perform an unattended installation by using the operating system CD instead of a distribution share.
Cmdlines.txt A configurable text file that you use to customize an unattended installation. Cmdlines.txt contains a list of commands that run synchronously after Setup finishes, but before a computer restarts. Cmdlines.txt can exist on the destination computer’s hard disk or on a floppy disk, and must be specified in the [Unattended] section of Unattend.txt or Winnt.sif.
[GUIRunOnce] A section in your answer file that is used to customize an unattended installation. The [GUIRunOnce] section contains a list of commands that run synchronously after a destination computer is started for the first time and a user logs on.
Mini-Setup A wizard that is a subset of Windows Setup. Mini-Setup provides prompts for user-specific information, configures operating system settings, and detects new hardware. You can automate Mini-Setup by using a Sysprep.inf answer file.
File-copy mode The first of the three stages of Setup, where the Windows program files and any additional files specified are copied to the computer’s hard disk.
Text Mode The second of the three stages of Setup, during which Setup determines the basic hardware of the computer (CPU, motherboard, hard disk controllers, file systems, and memory), installs the base operating system necessary to continue, and creates specified folders.
GUI mode The third of the three stages of Setup, during which Setup configures the computer’s hardware and network settings, prompts you to provide an Administrator password, and allows you to customize the installation.
(Retrieved from http://technet2.microsoft.com/windowsserver/en/library/09554f73-c6ac-451b-a4b3-f9836276107a1033.mspx?mfr=true)
There are several ways corporations install Windows XP Professional in the unattended model. Most larger companies (and many small to medium size businesses) use imaging software to prepare a computer image and deploy it to many computers. Though specific technologies such as Symantec Ghost or Microsoft SMS are not covered on the exam, you should be aware that these technologies are in wide use. Three methods are covered on the exam: Using Sysprep and Using RIS. These aren’t exclusive methods, so first we will dive into how to use Setup Manager to create an answer file, how Sysprep works and then review RIS.