Customizing and Automating Installations

A distribution folder is a hierarchical folder structure that contains the Windows 2000 installation files, as well as any device drivers and other files that are required to customize and automate an installation. You can create one or many distribution folders. Distribution folders typically reside on a server to which the destination computers on which you want to install Windows 2000 Professional can connect.

One of the most important advantages of using a distribution folder is that it provides a consistent environment for installing Windows 2000 Professional on multiple computers. You can use the same distribution folder for all computers with the same processor platform. For example, if you are installing Windows 2000 on different models of computers with same processor platform, all your answer files can reference the same distribution folder, provided it contains the necessary drivers for all models. Then, if a hardware component changes, you can place the new drivers in the subfolder, rather than change the answer file.

To help load balance the servers and make the file-copy phase of Windows 2000 Setup faster for computers already running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT Workstation 4.0, or Windows 2000, you can create distribution folders on multiple servers. You can then run Winnt32.exe with up to eight source file locations.

Distribution Folder Structure

Figure 5.2 shows the distribution folder structure that you must create and the relative location of each subfolder.


Figure 5.2 Distribution Folder Structure

\i386 Folder

This folder is the distribution folder. You create it at the root of the distribution server (the server on which the distribution folder is located) by copying the contents of \i386 on the Windows 2000 Professional operating system CD to the distribution folder. The \i386 folder includes the following files and folders.

$$Rename.txt File

The $$Rename.txt file contains a list of files that Setup uses during the installation process to convert specified file names from short to long. Each subfolder in the distribution folder that contains file names that you want to convert from long to short must have its own $$Rename.txt file.


This folder, which you create in the distribution folder as a subfolder of the \i386 folder, contains all the additional files required to complete the installation. If you use the OemFilesPath key in the [Unattended] section of the answer file, you can create the \$OEM$ folder outside the distribution folder.

You can instruct Setup to automatically copy directories, standard 8.3 format files, and any tools required for your automated installation to the \$OEM$ subfolder.

One of the additional files that you can add to the \$OEM$ subfolder is Cmdlines.txt. This file contains a list of commands that Setup carries out during its GUI mode. These commands can, for example, run an INF file, an application installation command, Sysdiff.exe, or another executable file. For more information about the Cmdlines.txt file, see Adding Applications in this chapter.



In this chapter, the GUI phase of Setup is referred to as GUI mode, and the text phase of Setup is referred to as text mode.

As long as Setup finds the \$OEM$ subfolder in the root of the distribution folder, it copies all the files found in this directory to the temporary directory that is created during the text phase of Setup.


This folder contains the hardware-dependent files that Setup Loader and text-mode Setup install on the destination computer during text-mode setup. These files can include original equipment manufacturer (OEM) HALs; mass storage device drivers; and Txtsetup.oem, which directs the loading and installing of these components.

Be sure to list the Txtsetup.oem file and all the files placed in this folder (HALs and drivers) in the [OEMBootFiles] section of Unattend.txt.


The $OEM$\$$ subfolder is equivalent to the % systemroot % or % windir % environment variables. The subfolder contains additional files that you want copied to the subfolders of the Windows 2000 Professional installation directory. The structure of this subfolder must match the structure of a standard Windows 2000 Professional installation, where $OEM$\$$ matches % systemroot % or % windir % (for example, C:\winnt), $OEM$\$$\System32 matches % windir %\System32, and so on. Each subfolder must contain the files that need to be copied to the corresponding system folder on the destination computer.


This subfolder contains the OEM Help files to be copied to C:\Winnt\Help during setup.


This subfolder contains files to be copied to the C:\Winnt\System32 folder during setup.


This folder is equivalent to the SystemDrive environment variable. For example, if the operating system is installed on drive C, \$OEM$\$1 refers back to drive C. The use of a variable makes it possible to rearrange drive letters without creating errors in applications that point to a hard-coded drive letter.

\$OEM$\$1\ PnPdrvrs

This folder contains additional Plug and Play drivers not included with Windows 2000. You can replace PnPdrvrs with a name of your own choosing with eight or fewer characters.



This folder replaces the Display and Net folders used in Windows NT Workstation 4.0.


This subfolder contains the files required to run the Sysprep tool. For more information about Sysprep, see Sysprep later in this chapter.

\$OEM$\ Drive_letter

Each \$OEM$\ Drive_letter folder contains a subfolder structure that is copied to the root of the corresponding drive in the destination computer during text-mode Setup. For example, files you put in an \$OEM$\C folder are copied to the root of drive C. You can also create subfolders in these folders. For example, \$OEM$\D\Misc creates a \Misc folder on drive D.

Files that must be renamed need to be listed in $$Rename.txt. Note that the files in these subfolders must have short file names.

Creating a Distribution Folder

The easiest way to create a distribution folder is by using Setup Manager, a tool that is available on the Windows 2000 Professional operating system CD.

Follow these steps to create a distribution folder manually:

To create a distribution folder

  1. Connect to the network server on which you want to create the distribution folder.

  2. Create an \i386 folder on the distribution share of the network server.
    To help differentiate between multiple distribution shares for the different editions of Windows 2000 (Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, and Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server), choose another name for this folder. If you plan to use localized language versions of Windows 2000 for international branches of your organization, create separate distribution shares for each localized version.

  3. Copy the contents of the \i386 folder from the Windows 2000 Professional operating system CD to the folder that you created.

  4. In the folder that you created, create a subfolder named \$OEM$.
    The \$OEM$ subfolder provides the necessary folder structure for supplemental files to be copied to the destination computer during setup. These files include drivers, tools, applications, and any other files required for deployment of Windows 2000 Professional within your organization.

The following information is provided to help make the creation of the distribution folders easier and faster.

Copying a Folder to the System Drive of the Computer

You can copy an additional folder to the system drive during the customization process. For example, you might want to copy a folder containing additional device drivers.

To copy a folder to the system drive

  1. In the \$OEM$ subfolder of the distribution share, create a subfolder called \$1. This folder maps to SystemDrive , the destination drive for the Windows 2000 installation.

  2. In the \$1 folder, copy the folder containing the files.

  3. Verify that the following statement is in the Unattend.txt answer file:

OemPreinstall = Yes



The OemPreinstall = Yes statement is required if you are using the \$OEM$ folder to add any more files to the system.