Designing Automated Setup Tasks
Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2
You can automate the following installation tasks after a disk image is copied onto a destination computer:
Mini-Setup. You can automate Mini-Setup, which is a subset of Windows Setup, by using Sysprep.inf. Mini-Setup runs automatically after you copy a disk image onto a destination computer and an end user starts the destination computer. The primary role of Mini-Setup is to gather user-specific information, and detect and install hardware.
Software installation and configuration. You can automatically install and configure client and server applications. You can also install and configure Windows components.
Hardware installation and configuration. You can automatically update device drivers and configure device settings.
Computer configuration. You can automatically configure computer settings, such as network protocols, display settings, and system services. You can also configure server roles; for example, you can promote servers to domain controllers.
Try to automate as many installation tasks as possible. By automating installation tasks, you can:
Lower the number of errors caused by technicians, administrators, and end users during your deployment.
Ensure consistency throughout your organization, which reduces support costs after you complete your deployment.
Increase productivity by requiring little or no end-user interaction during your deployment.
Update or modify your installation process without having to educate or retrain end users, technicians, or administrators.
To automate installation tasks, you need to use several types of configuration files, including information (.inf) files, answer (.txt) files, and initialization (.ini) files. Configuration files contain information that is used to answer end-user prompts and configure computer settings before, during, and after Mini-Setup. Configuration files can also contain instructions for running programs, scripts, or commands before, during, and after Mini-Setup. The following configuration files are used to automate installation tasks.
Sysprep.inf You can use this file to automate Mini-Setup, configure computer settings, and automatically run programs, scripts, or commands during and after Mini-Setup. When you copy a disk image onto a destination computer, the destination computer automatically searches for Sysprep.inf the first time it is started.
Cmdlines.txt You can use this file to automatically run programs, scripts, or commands during Mini-Setup. You must configure the InstallFilesPath parameter in Sysprep.inf to use the Cmdlines.txt file.
Unattend.txt You can use this file to automate a program so that no user input is required. For example, an Unattend.txt file can be used with Dcpromo.exe (the Active Directory Installation Wizard) to automatically configure a server as a domain controller.
Winbom.ini You can use this file to install software, update device drivers, and configure operating system settings after you copy a disk image onto a destination computer but before you prepare the computer for final delivery to an end user. You can also use this file to run auditing scripts or programs, which can help you identify device errors and verify that your applications and drivers are installed properly.
Figure 3.6 shows the process you need to follow to design an automated image-based installation.
Figure 3.6 Designing Automated Setup Tasks