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Unattend.xml with WDS help

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update: After merging two threads, the beginning of this is a bit out of whack. My current issue is here, which is post 7 in this thread:


One of my many projects is deploying Vista via PXE. I can deploy it using an Attended setup. I want to make it Unattended, so I built an answer file in WSIM and want to try it out. But I do not know where to put the file! I am not using a VM session or an install DVD. Here is my current config:

- There are 2 boot images in WDS, one for Windows PE (winpe.wim) and one for "Windows Longhorn Setup" which was made from the BOOT.WIM on the Vista Business DVD.

- There are 7 Install Images in the Vista group that were added from INSTALL.WIM on the Vista Business DVD.

So I have my Autounattend.xml for Vista Business but I do not know where to put it. Since when you boot the client with PXE, it loads up the BOOT.WIM, then it prompts to connect to the domain and loads the appropriate version of Vista (based upon the selection screen) from the Install Images in WDS.

I tried searching for this but have only found people talking about DVDs and UFDs. I can already do this with that, but not the Server I have set up.

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In the root of the DVD

Thanks. I am not using a DVD. Let me post some pictures of my environment:

These are the boot images in WDS:


These are the install images in WDS:


These are the install images in Explorer:


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I found that if you right-click on the WDS Server container, choose properties, click client tab. You can choose a generic x86 Unattend file to put in there. This file must be in Reminst or you will get an error. I am looking into being able to use different ones, because if this is the only option then I can only install 1 OS this way. I'd like to at least be able to do Vista Business and Server 2008.

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I have so far done the following:

1. Copy boot.wim from Vista Business DVD to e:\source

2. Import the boot.wim into Boot Images in WDS (you can see that above)

3. Use imagex to export the Vista Business image (instance 1) from install.wim on Vista DVD. This file goes into e:\source

4. Add the new vista_business.wim to Install Images in WDS.

This allows me to deploy multiple versions of Vista from the WDS. In the previous screenshot, you see I have all seven versions of Vista. I removed these extra items for now. Those appeared when you import the entire install.wim into the Install Images container.

So far it seems the only way for WDS to use an answer file is to use it on the Server Properties, as previously mentioned. I attempted to put my Autounattend.xml into the root of the vista_business.wim but this did nothing. I may now try to put a simple unattend file into the boot.wim that contains HDD formatting options, and network passwords.

In case anyone is wondering, this is my scope: Currently I create Vista images by handloading an Unattended DVD. Then install the drivers, apps, etc, generalize, reseal/audit and then capture the image. This is laid out here:


To replace the DVD method and use a WDS via PXE method instead.

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Well perhaps this is supported after all?


I split my unattend file into two peices. One with the Windows PE pass goes into WDSClientUnattend, while the rest of it gets attached to my image.

I'm confused about where to put the UserData, specifically the ProductKey. Does it get applied during the Windows-PE pass or a different one? I have multiple different examples, including our DVD Autounattend, and it is in different places.

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I am having some issues with a client unattend.xml. When I boot into the installer, I get the following message:

Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [x:\sources\wdsunattend\wdsunattend.xml] for pass [windowsPE]. A component or setting specified in the answer file does not exist

I rechecked the answer file in WSIM in the validator and get the following errors:

- The specified setting InstallImage does not exist

- The specified setting ImageSelection does not exist

Both of these items fall within the Microsoft-Windows-Setup component, which is here:

		<component name="Microsoft-Windows-Setup" processorArchitecture="x86" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
<ImageName>Windows Vista BUSINESS</ImageName>
<Disk wcm:action="add">
<CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
<ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">

The ImageName and ImageGroup match those specific setting in the WDS Snap-in. What is the cause of this error?

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if you want to connect an unattend.xml with your install.wim on wds, you have to right click on the image (f.e. Vista Home Premium), then open properties - there you can activate the box for allowing unattended installation and browse to your unattend file.

To connect your unattend file with your boot.wim you will have to open servers properties and connect it there (its the Client Menu, i think)

You can set there that you wont have to press F12 for PXE boot, and manage automated partitioning and Autologon on the server.


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Yes I am past this part. This specific project is on hold at the moment. I am using the WDSClientUnattend on the server side, and another unattend on the image. I am getting errors with the server file.

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