This article covers the additional installation methods of Windows XP Professional of over the network installations and automating installations using Windows Setup Manager.
Installing Windows XP Professional over the Network
Before you can begin a network installation of Windows XP Professional, you need to copy the Windows XP Professional installation files to a server, normally a file or distribution server, and share out the directory so that people who need to perform an over the network installation can attach to the share. (These people will also need the proper level of Folder and NTFS permissions to attach to the share.)
The distribution server share will need to contain the installation files from the I386 folder on the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM.
From the target system, you connect to this shared directory and then run the Setup program.
The target system needs to be prepared ahead of time in order to be successful with an over the network installation. First, you need to create a FAT or FAT32 partition on the target computer of at least 1.5 GB of disk space and format it ahead of time and you also need to either boot from a client diskette that includes a network client that enables the target computer to connect to the distribution server or install the client directly to the local system hard drive with some sort of system installed, such as formatting the hard drive with a Windows 9x boot disk with the "s" switch.
(FORMAT /S Copies system files to the formatted disk to make a boot disk. This also works on a local hard drive).
The preferred method is to boot from a client diskette that includes a network client that enables the target computer to connect to the distribution server.
(As we continue from here, we will assume we are using the preferred methods of installation. As variables come up, I will mention them as a side note.)
The Setup program copies the installation files to the target computer, which is why you need to create a FAT or FAT32 partition on the target computer of at least 1.5 GB of disk space and format it ahead of time.
You begin from the target computer by booting from a floppy disk that includes a network client that can be used to connect to the distribution server. Once the network client on the target computer is started, you connect to the shared folder on the distribution server that contains the Windows XP Professional installation files and Run WINNT.EXE to start the Setup program.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - WINNT.EXE is used for an installation using MS-DOS or Windows 3.0 or later versions on the source system. WINNT32.EXE is run for an installation using Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Me, Windows NT 4, or Windows 2000 Professional.
Running WINNT.EXE from the shared folder does creates the $Win_nt$.~ls temporary folder on the target computer and the Windows XP Professional installation files are copied from the shared folder on the distribution server to the $Win_nt$.~ls folder on the target computer. Once all of the files are copied to the target system, setup will reboot the local computer and begin installing the Windows XP Professional operating system.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - WINNT.EXE and WINNT32.EXE can be modified by using switches. I have outlined the available switches below.
Modifying the Setup Process Using WINNT.EXE switches
Enables accessibility options.
Specifies an optional folder to be copied and saved. The folder remains after Setup is finished.
Specifies the optional folder to be copied. The folder is deleted after Setup is finished.
Specifies the source location of Windows XP Professional files. This must be a full path x:\[path] or \\server\share\[path]. The default is the current folder location
Specifies a drive to contain temporary setup files and directs the Setup program to install Windows XP Professional on that drive. If you do not specify a drive, Setup attempts to locate the drive with the most available space by default.
Performs an unattended installation. (Requires the /s switch.) The answer file provides answers to some or all of the prompts that the end user normally responds to during Setup.
Indicates an identifier (id) that Setup uses to specify how a Uniqueness Database File (UDF) modifies an answer file. The /udf parameter overrides values in the answer file, and the identifier determines which values in the UDF file are used. If you do not specify a UDF_file, Setup prompts you to insert a disk that contains the $UNIQUE$.UDB file.
Modifying the Setup Process Using WINNT.EXE32 switches
Checks your computer for upgrade compatibility for Windows XP Professional.
On Windows 98 or Windows Me upgrade checks, the default filename is UPGRADE.TXT in the %systemroot% folder.
For Windows NT 4 or Windows 2000 upgrades, the default filename is NTCOMPAT.TXT in the %systemroot% folder.
Specifies a specific command that Setup is to run. This command is run after the computer restarts and after Setup collects the necessary configuration information.
Copies to the hard disk the files for the Recovery Console, which is used for repair and recovery as a Startup option after the Windows XP Professional installation has been completed.
Creates an additional folder within the %systemroot% folder, which contains the Windows XP Professional system files. You can use the /copydir switch to create as many additional folders within the %systemroot% folder as you want.
Creates an additional folder within the %systemroot% folder. Setup deletes folders created with /copysource after installation is complete.
Creates a debug log at the specified level. By default, the debug log file is C:\WINNT32.LOG and the default level is 2. Includes the following levels:
0 (severe errors)
4 (detailed information for debugging)
Each level includes the level below it.
Prevents Dynamic Update from running. Without Dynamic Updates, Setup runs only with the original Setup files. This option disables Dynamic Update even if you use an answer file and specify Dynamic Update options in that file.
Specifies a share on which you previously downloaded Dynamic Update files from the Windows Update Web site. When run from your installation share and used with /prepareinstall, it prepares the updated files for use in network-based client installations. When used without /prepareinstall and run on a client, it specifies that the client installation will use the updated files on the share specified in pathname.
Prepares an installation share for use with Dynamic Update files that you downloaded from the Windows Update Web site. You can use this share for installing Windows XP Professional for multiple clients and it can only be used with /dushare).
Instructs Setup to copy replacement files from an alternate location. Directs Setup to look in the alternate location first and, if files are present, to use them instead of the files from the default location.
Instructs Setup to copy all installation source files to the local hard disk. Use this switch when installing from a CD-ROM to provide installation files when the CD-ROM is not available later in the installation.
Prevents Setup from restarting the computer after completing the file-copy phase.
Specifies the source location of Windows XP Professional installation files. To simultaneously copy files from multiple paths, use a separate /s switch for each source path. If you type multiple /s switches, the first location specified must be available or the installation will fail. You can use a maximum of eight /s switches.
Copies Setup startup files to a hard disk and marks the drive as active. You can then install the drive in another computer. When you start that computer, Setup starts at the next phase. Using /syspart requires the /tempdrive switch. You can use syspart on computers running Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, or Windows 2000 Server. You cannot use it on computers running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me.
Places temporary files on the specified drive and installs Windows XP Professional on that drive.
/unattend [number]: [answer_file]
Performs an unattended installation. The answer file provides your custom specifications to Setup. If you don't specify an answer file, all user settings are taken from the previous installation. You can specify the number of seconds between the time that Setup finishes copying the files and when it restarts with [number]. You can specify the number of seconds only on computers running Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4, or Windows 2000 that are upgrading to a newer version of Windows XP Professional.
Indicates an identifier (id) that Setup uses to specify how a UDF modifies an answer file. The UDF file overrides values in the answer file, and the identifier determines which values in the UDF file are used. If you do not specify a UDF file, Setup prompts you to insert a disk that contains the $UNIQUE$.UDF file.
For the most part, an over the network installation of Windows XP Professional from this point forward is almost perfectly identical to installing Windows XP Professional from a CD-ROM to a clean hard disk. For more information, you can take a look at my article Attended Install of Windows XP Professional.
Installing Windows XP Professional using Windows Setup Manager.
Using the Windows Setup Manager will help you automate certain Windows XP
Professional installations. In order to use the Windows Setup Manager you need
to install the Windows XP Professional Deployment Tools from the Windows XP
To start, you need to log on with a user account that is a member of the
Administrators group and insert the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM in the
CD-ROM drive. (If you have AUTORUN enabled the Welcome To Microsoft Windows XP
screen, shown below, will appear. Click Exit to close it).
Open the Windows Explorer and create the folder where the files can be extracted to.
The E:\Setup Tools folder in our example will be used to contain the files extracted from DEPLOY.CAB on the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM. (You can also choose to create a new folder to where you want to extract the files when you open the CAB files. We have performed this step ahead of time in the example)
Double-click :\Support\Tools\Deploy.CAB. The cabinet file will open in the explorer window and show all of the files. Select them all and right click and choose EXTRACT.
The Select a Destination window will open. Select the E:\Setup Tools folder we created earlier as the point where to extract the tools to. (Or, as I mentioned before, you could select Make New Folder at this point as well).
When you have finished, the following files will appear in the folder.
We will use setupmgr.exe, the Windows System Manager, to create an unattended setup script. Double clicking the on the executable will start the Windows Setup Manager Wizard.
Clicking Next will bring up the New Or Existing Answer File page. Since we do not have an existing answer file, we will elect to create a new one and continue.
We are then presented with three different options on the Product to Install page. Since we are creating an answer file for a Windows Unintended Installation (which is selected by default) we will keep this setting and continue.
On the Platform page we will choose our platform for the answer file. (This will be Windows XP Professional, but you are supplied with the options for Windows XP Home Edition and Windows 2002 Server, Advanced Server or Data Center when you use setupmgr.exe, the Windows System Manager, from the Windows XP Professional CDROM).
On the User Interaction Level page, the following five options are displayed:
Provide Defaults. This setting causes default selections to appear to the end user as the operating system installs itself on a workstation. The user can accept the default answers or change any of the answers supplied by the script.
Fully Automated. A Fully Automated installation does not allow the user the chance to review or change the answers supplied by the script.
Hide Pages. This setting causes default selections to be hidden. Pages for which the script supplies all answers are hidden from the user.
Read Only. Pages for which the script supplies all answers are viewable by the user but the user cannot change the answers.
GUI Attended. The text-mode portion of the installation is automated, but the user must supply the answers for the GUI-mode portion of the installation.
We will choose FULLY AUTOMATED and continue.
On the Distribution Folder page you can create a distribution folder on your local computer or network containing the required source files. You can add files to this distribution folder to further customize your installation.
For this demonstration we will select, No This Answer File Will Be Used To Install From A CD, and then click Next to continue.
On the License Agreement page you will need to select the checkbox to accept the terms of the License Agreement in order to successfully continue.
The next page that comes up is the Customize the Software page. As you can see here and in the left hand column, all of the prompts are exactly like the ones you would expect to see during an attended install. You are answering them all here, just once, for use each time in the future.
The last entry of the General Settings section is Providing the Product Key.
During a fully automated install, you must supply a Product Key or you will receive an error message.
If you were to use Provide Defaults or GUI Attended user interaction levels, you would be allowed to leave this page blank. Also, if you provide a bogus key on the Product Key page, the Wizard will continue, but, the fully automated install will halt when it reaches this point, as the key is invalid.
The next page that is presented starts the Network Settings section of the answer file.
The first entry is for Computer names. Here, you can enter as many different workstation names and you want, import them from a text file, or allow the installation program to auto generate names based on your organization name.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - If multiple computer names were specified in the computers to be installed section, the setup wizard creates a *.UDB file. The Uniqueness Database File (UDB) provides you the ability to specify individually specific computer parameters automatically. The UDB modifies an answer file by overriding values in the answer file, when you run Setup with the /udf:id[,UDB_file] switch. The file overrides values in the answer file, and the identifier (id) determines which values in the .udb file are used.
The Administrator Password page is next and has two options, (of which only the second is available):
1) Prompt The User For An Administrative Password
2) Use The Following Administrative Password (127 Characters Maximum)
(Because we selected the User Interaction level of Fully Automated, the Prompt The User For An Administrative Password option is grayed out).
Enter any password that you want.
There is also two other options on this page, to encrypt the Administrator's password in the answer file and to have the Administrator log on automatically.
You can also set the number of times you want the Administrator to log on automatically when the computer is restarted.
We will leave these blank continue from here.
The Networking Components page is where we can elect to keep the typical settings or to choose to customize them. We will leave the default selection of Typical and select NEXT to continue.
The final page of the Network Settings section is the Workgroup or Domain page.
Here you can choose whether or not the answer file will put the newly installed system into a workgroup or a domain. As with an attended install, if we elect to choose a domain, we need may need to create a computer account in the domain if this hasn't already been done.
We will be using the WORKGROUP option, so we will enter a name and continue. (The WORKGROUP "workgroup" is supplied by default, just as DOMAIN in under the Windows Server domain option)
The last a final phase of the process is the Advanced Settings section.
The first option is for the Telephony information.
Next is the Regional Setting section, which allows us to either use the default regional settings for Windows XP Professional from the CDROM we're installing from or to choose another.
We will keep the defaults as listed above and continue.
We are also given the option to add support for other languages.
In the Browser and Shell Settings section we can elect to use the default Internet Explorer settings or use an auto configuration script created by the Internet Explorer Administration Kit.
We could also set Proxy, Home page and other Browser settings at this time as well. We will keep the defaults and continue.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - The version of Internet Explorer that is deployed with Windows XP Professional is 6. At the time of this writing, there is one security hotfix that should be installed on systems that use Internet Explorer and that is Q313675.exe.
The next option of the Advanced Settings section is the Installation Folder window.
Here you can elect to install Windows XP Professional to one of three options as listed, only the third being a variable of your choice.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - While I cannot find the specific Q article at this time, here is the Windows 2000 Professional article that outlines my next point. Other than the above method of using the answer file, there is no way on a clean installation of Windows XP Professional to choose the installation folder. The folder for Windows XP Professional will always default to \Windows. (DRIVE LETTER being the only variable that you can set without the answer file.) Windows 2000 Professional installed to the WINNT directory by default.
The next section allows you to automatically setup networked printers on the target systems if you wish.
You can also configure run once commands to run the first time a user logs on.
The last step in the Advanced Settings section is the Additional Commands option. It allows you to add any commands you wish to run at the end of the unattended installation before Setup restarts the system and runs Windows XP Professional for the first time.
The Windows Setup Manager then will create the answer file with the settings you have provided with all of your previous entries to a place on the local system as a text file. (The default location is the folder where the Setup Tools were extracted to.)
The unattend.bat file that was created from our input here is below.
rem This is a SAMPLE batch script generated by the Setup Manager Wizard.
rem If this script is moved from the location where it was generated, it may have to be modified.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - Because we didn't choose the option to encrypt the Administrator password earlier on the Administrator Password page of the Network settings section, anyone that has access to read the unattend.txt can see what the default administrator password for an installation is. This can be a serious issue in large environments where the passwords are not reset on a regular basis.
If encryption were selected the entry in the [GuiUnattended] section would look like this.