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Unattended Self Installing Hard Disk?


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I have a feeling this is quite easy as it is just a case of rewriting the batch commands so............ :rolleyes:

I have a customer who has developed a faulty hard disk. He does not have a DVD rom otherwise I could create an unattended disc for him that way to use on a new disk.

I wish to send him a new hard disk by post. On inserting the new disk I would like an unattended install to take place from XPCD files and batches already copied onto the hard disk together with the various hotfixes, tweaks and apps he usually has.

The reason I can't send him an installed completed hard disk is that I dont have a rig with his motherboard in at present and experience tells me a clean install is always best for an alternate motherboard.

As I said I would guess this is quite easy to do but I need shoving in the right direction :)

I have tried stopping the unattended install on first boot and then copying over various apps setup files onto the hard disk and then allowing it to restart from the first boot on a different motherboard but I got a BSOD as I guess hard disk controllers are different and contribute to this problem?

Cheers

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Cheers

By Minisetup do you mean WinPE?

Am I correct in thinking I can give him a cd with winpe on and it will then run an unattended from where I have an install folder on the same hard disk?

I think I read Gosh talking about something like this in another thread

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I think ... As you can boot from a DOS diskette and install XP from a CD, you should be able to copy the I386 and $OEM$ files to the HDD and do the same. There are some issues, like using smartdsk from DOS speeds things up considerably. I don't remember exactly how it works, and I have not done it since NT4 or Windows 2000, but I have installed that way, albeit from the CD instead of the HDD, but that should not matter. There are some things to consider: the MsDosInitiated WINNT.SIF entry, you may only be able to use FAT32, or create a DOS diskette with NTFS4DOS on it, batch files to clean up, etc.

About WinPE, I've seen all you've learned and asked over the last few weeks, and if I were you I would give it a rest before attacking WinPE. A few things about WinPE. Firstly, you would probably have trouble even getting a licence from MS, so you would use an "aternative". Documentation is rare. Good documentation is very rare. It is overkill for what you need. Nevertheless, it is kind of cool, and if you are intressted, consult the Meister: Bart. If you do not know Bart ... He is THE boot man.

I just look at the post you mentioned. Something like that should work. He uses WinPE in his example, or DOS, just as an environment to copy files. Yo can just hook the HDD up as a slave from windows and copy. If you go the one step further that Jono does (before the Ghosting, which you do not need), perhaps the HDD will boot. The trick is doing it from DOS so that it does not try to load NT stuff, and uses real DOS mode instead. I think you have to initiate the install, i.e. WINNT.EXE from the HDD, so that it will find $OEM$ relative to I386.

Just some random ramblings ... do post how you solve it. A question: If the user does not have the installation files to install his PC, I assume that you configured it before it left the shop. Ghosting or Drive Imaging at this point is a piece of cake: You can even write another .CMD file to do it for you! You can easily fit a WINXP, OfficeXP, Photoshop, Visual Studio (etc) installation on 2 CDs. An added benifit, instead of long phone calls, you can tell them to save the data and re-install. Unless they are particularly pretty, I try to eliminate maintenance time. And if they are ... then I'm sure you'd best go on-site...

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He does not have a DVD rom otherwise I could create an unattended disc for him that way to use on a new disk.
My install on average is about 80-100 gigs! Get that image on two CD's
You do mean 80 - 100 GB of HDD, not of data, right? All your installation files, WINXP included, do fit on a DVD, right? Sorry to insist, but I am a big fan of HDD imaging, especially for remote problems. OK, 3 CDs...
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data copied over to formatted hard disk folder first.

then xp and apps install from DVD after without overwriting data. no DVD rom so hoped self install from active hard disk was possible.

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I was under the impresion xp setup could not be started under msdos.

As far as i can rememeber winnt.exe and winnt32.exe will not start under dos. To install to an empty HD you need to boot from the xp cd with a copy of winnt.sif on your floppy.

However this does not explain the presence of the switch "MsDosInitiated" so i may be wrong.

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Here... this is how you do it. Create a directory with the windows XP files in there. Configure it almost the same way you would a CD, but you want to make sure that you do not have windows format the drive. You will probably want to convert to NTFS however at some point. That will work. Format the HD with an old DOS version and create an autoexec.bat file that will launch the winnt.exe file on first boot as an unattended installation.

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You guys all missed it. XP and i believe win2k support the syspart parameter.

From here

/syspart

On an x86-based computer, this parameter specifies that you can copy Setup startup files to a hard disk, mark the disk as active, and then install the disk onto another computer. When you start the computer onto which you have installed the disk, it automatically starts with the next phase of Setup. You must always use the /tempdrive parameter with the /syspart parameter.

You can start Winnt32.exe with the /syspart option on an x86-based computer running Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Professional. The computer cannot be running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition

The idea behind syspart is you run it, and it copies the xp files and makes the hard drive bootable. You send the hard drive to someone and they plug it in. Once they turn on the pc, xp setup starts in gui mode, at the 33 min mark.

-gosh

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perfect answer.

all points go to gosh. :rolleyes:

got me thinking here......i wonder if at this point i can swap out the ntuser.dat in the default profile as well while i have the hard disk hooked up to my rig and copying over data before posting!. :)

i would imagine the c:\documents and settings folder has been created at this stage?

will keep you posted!

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@greenmachine

I have another customer with a faulty hard disk today!

This disk imaging sounds necessary for me. I have used Ghost before but only as a hard disk upgrade tool. I haven't really explored its features.

Are you saying there is a commercial piece of software that can image a hard disk and put it to a bootable DVD ie similar to a Branded PC recovery disk in that you put the DVD in and boot and it reimages the drive back to a bootable state as shipped?

Going a further step on from that;

I give my time free to a local charity and have helped build them up a network of a dozen PC's.

They have asked me for a cheap back up solution. Someone has donated a couple of large USB2.0 hard disks and I said I would see if during the night I could get the server to boot out of windows2k and ghost the servers disk to the USB drive. They could then swap the USB disks daily.

That way if the servers disk fails hopefully someone can just reghost it back to a new ide disk.

Is this pretty easy?

Sorry for my lack of knowledge here....I am just a system builder who has got roped into all sorts of other aspects of IT! :)

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