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how to save time when testing the unattended iso?

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It is really a waste of time if we test the newly made ISO file from the very beginning (format, copy, restart) each time by using vmware etc.

In fact each time we install only minor corretions made. But we have to test from the very beginning.

I think there must be a method to solve the prolem of long-time installation.

Could we make a snapshot when the first time copying was finished. When made corrections (such as for winnnt.sif or other files) we just need to modify the snapshot files?

Could anybody give a good solution?


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It all depends on what you are doing. Use vmware to cut down testing time. I will make a preformated image, with all the settings I need. Save a backup of it. It ends up being around 5 mb. Then I overwrite the old image with this one when I'm ready for a new install.

Depending on where you make modifications, you can use snapshots. If your changes are in cmdlines, and setup; you need to go through with the full install. If you have things in runonce(ex) then you can take a snap shot after setup, and make changes to the image by booting into safe mode. Most runonce extries don't even need a full install, you can check them on the current user.

I generally incorporate several changes into the image at a time. Once I'm pretty sure everything is in good order, I'll do a full installation. Generally, everything works, but there are still problems that testing doesn't find in vmware vs real machines.

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@victor888: Solution for you:

By example; If you are using Virtual PC, You have to make a virtual hard drive. This Virtual HD is a file on your system. Name it "TESTXP.VHD" I don't have it installed on my pc at this moment so the file extension is not .VHD THIS IS JUST AN EXEMPLE.

Instaed of burning the .ISO just leave it on your C:\ and mount it from Virtual PC.

When Installing WinXp, Stop the virtual machine after the last reboot. So at that point ur runonce.cmd did not run yet.

Backup ur TESTXP.VHD virtual harddrive to TESTXP-Original.VHD

Now reload ur virtual machine and let it go till the end. Make all the test you want.


When ur ready to test new setting in your runonce.cmd, just do a new .iso

Copy ur TESTXP-Original.VHD to TESTXP.VHD

reload ur virtual machine, it should start at the last reboot of the installation of wondows.

Did I lost you ¿¿¿¿¿¿


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That's great. Quite clear. Thanks.

Additional question: changes made in winnt.sif couldn't be added to the backuped vhd?

I think we could use other bootable disk to boot then make changes to winnt.sif (where is it?) on the VHD. Am I right?


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The file winnt.sif Stay on the Cdrom/Floppy. Personnaly I think it is unless to make a lot of tryout for the winnt.sif file. If you read carfully the tutorial for unattended installation, you'll get a good file working on the first use. (specially if u use nlite)

If u really need to changes and try a lot of time. I strongly suggest that you use RIS from Windows 2000/2003. You need two computers. One will be the server keeping the distribution share (with active directory) and the client will need a bootable NIC. Everything is going VERY VERY fast and U don't need to burn a cd or make an .ISO each time. If you are intrested in this solution I'll post something for you :) !!!

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I fully agree army20's reload original dump idea, although I tried on VMWARE not VPC but the thoughtfullness is total same and also succeed.

army20, I'm interesting in your RIS stuff,would you share it to me please?currently I 'm using another way which using norton ghost to build a multi-NIC supported(support for DELL GX260/60/270,DELL latitude C400/D600/D400) startup floppy then connect to a shared folder on my server which contain all the distribution image there, then it'll start the unattend installation just like via CD, but much much quicker as the LAN is gigabyte.

thanks a ton to army20!

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