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Do an unattended installation

Posted On 2007-08-12 by FortyPoundHead
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Tags: General Tutorial Windows XP
Views: 1502


The Windows XP Setup routine is much nicer than that in Windows 2000 or Windows Me, but it`s still an hour-long process that forces you to sit in front of your computer for an hour, answering dialog boxes and typing in product keys. But Windows XP picks up one of the more useful features from Windows 2000, the ability to do an unattended installation, so you can simply prepare a script that will answer all those dialogs for you and let you spend some quality time with your family.

You need to be aware that this feature is designed for a standalone Windows XP system: If you want to dual-boot Windows XP with another OS, you`re going to have to go through the interactive Setup just like everyone else: An unattended install will wipe out your hard drive and install only Windows XP, usually.

To perform an unattended installation, you just need to work with the Setup Manager, which is located on the Windows XP CD-ROM in D:\SupportTools\DEPLOY.CAB by default: Extract the contents of this file and you`ll find a number of useful tools and help files; the one we`re interested in is named setupmgr.exe. This is a very simple wizard application that will walk you through the process of creating an answer file called winnt.sif that can be used to guide Windows XP Setup through the unattended installation.

One final tip: There`s one thing that Setup Manager doesn`t add: Your product key. However, you can add this to the unattend.txt file manually. Simply open the file in Notepad and add the following line under the [UserData] section:

ProductID=xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

( your 25 character product key)

Then, just copy winnt.sif to a floppy, put your Windows XP CD-ROM in the CD drive, and reboot: When the CD auto-boots, it will look for the unattend.txt file in *** automatically, and use it to answer the Setup questions if it`s there.

Finally, please remember that this will wipe out your system! Back up first, and spend some time with the help files in DEPLOY.CAB before proceeding.


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