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  1. Introduction
  2. Capabilities
  3. Structure
  4. The Registry
  5. System and Configuration Files
  6. Security
  7. Application Support
  8. Requirements
  9. Installation
  10. Unattended Installation
  11. Booting
  12. Filesystems
  13. Programs
  14. Control Panel
  15. Tool
  16. Commands
  17. Customization
  18. Environment Variables
  19. Printing
  20. Performance
  21. System Services
  22. Permissions
  23. Groups
  24. User Rights and Auditing
  25. User Profiles
  26. Policies
  27. Network Model
  28. Resource Access
  29. Network Browsing
  30. Protocol Support
  31. RAS
  32. Networking
  33. Backups
  34. Events
  35. Error Handling
  36. Diagnostic Tools
  37. Items to Memorize
  38. Terms
  39. Credits

Windows NT Unattended Installation

Unattended installation

The Winnt.exe and Winnt32.exe programs provide the unattended installation ability, allowing the rapid creation of large numbers of similar workstations using existing installation media. Two types of files are required:

  • Answer files - Files requires to answer the system queries during an unattended installation normally sent to the monitor during an attended installation.
  • Uniqueness Database Files (UDF) - Used to insert the User name, organization, and computer name in the [UserData]section of the unattend.txt file.

The Computer Profile setup utility or the Setup Manager utility (SETUPMGR.EXE on the install CD) may be used to set up unattended installation. One UDF file is required for installing to various types of computers. There must be a different answer file for each type or configuration of computer.

Answer Files

There is a sample answer file on the install CD-ROM called UNATTEND.TXT. These files contain categories of information defined by the [ and ] symbols. Some categories are:

  • DetectedMassStorage - Mass storage devices that Setup should recognize, whether they are available at installation time or not.
  • Display - Display settings.
  • DisplayDrivers - Display drivers.
  • GuiUnattended - Defines the setup program behavior during graphical mode setup.
  • KeyboardDrivers - Specifies keyboard drivers.
  • LicenseFilePrintData - Used for servers only.
  • MassStorageDrivers - Specifies SCSI drivers.
  • Modem - Determines if a modem is to be installed.
  • Network - Network settings, with adapters and protocols.
  • OEM_Ads - The bitmap information to be displayed when the graphical user mode is starting.
  • OEMBootFiles- The files required for system boot must be listed here.
  • PointingDeviceDrivers - Specifies any pointing devices.
  • Unattended - This section defines setup program behavior during text mode setup.
  • UserData - User or computer information.

A sample unattend.txt answer file:

OemPreinstall = no
ConfirmHardware = no
NtUpgrade = no
Win31Upgrade = no
TargetPath = WINNT
OverwriteOemFilesOnUpgrade = no
FullName = "Your User Name"
OrgName = "Your Organization Name"
ComputerName = COMPUTER_NAME
TimeZone = "(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada); Tijuana"
ConfigureAtLogon = 0
BitsPerPel = 16
XResolution = 640
YResolution = 480
VRefresh = 70
AutoConfirm = 1
Attend = yes
DetectAdapters = ""
InstallProtocols = ProtocolsSection
JoinDomain = Domain_To_Join
TC = TCParameters
DHCP = yes

UDF Files

The UDF file below assigns user name, organization name, and computer names for three computers.

; The UID on the left is a unique string for this file which cannot contain a
; space, asterisk, comma, or equals character.
; The right hand side value must match the name of a section in the unattend.txt file.
; The sections below specify sections to be merged into the unattend.txt answer file sections.
; They may be specified for unique computer IDs with the format "[UIDn:SectionName]".
; They may be set for all computers is the format "[SectionName]" is specified.
; Any matching values on the left side of the "=" sign (key) are replaced by the value on the
; right. If a key does not match, the key and value are added to the unattend.text values.
; Format: "key=value".
FullName = "Mark Allen"
OrgName = "CTDP"
FullName = "Chris Smith"
OrgName = "Acme Corp"
FullName = "John Brown"
OrgName = "Acme Corp"

$OEM$ Directory

The $OEM$ directory is used to install files that are not a standard part ot the NT product. Additional drivers and files may be installed using this directory.

Winnt and Winnt32.exe use

An example command line that uses the answer files and UDF files is:

winnt /s:e:\ /u:unatt.txt /UDF:id1,udffile.txt

The Sysdiff Utility

Used to customize NT installation to one or more computers over the network. It records the differences between a installation files that have been added to an installation and a normal installation that has not had additions added. Functions:

  • Snap - Takes a snapshot of the state of files, directories, and the registry.
  • Diff - Records differences between a current system and a previous snapshot.
  • Apply - Apply data in a differences file to an installation.
  • Inf - Create an inf file from a diff file. The .inf file allows differences to be automatically applied to installations of NT from the server based share.
  • Dump - Allows review of the contents of a diff file.

If sysdiff is used to create an inf file and the difference files are put in the directory tree, %OEM$, you can use the command sysdiff.exe /apply in a file named cmdline.txt located in $OEM$. If this is done, the OemPreinstall line in the unattend file must be set to "Yes". Windows NT 3.5.1 used the Windiff utility which is still available in NT 4.0, but Sysdiff is used for unattended installation while Windiff may be used to compare files.

Beginning an Install

To install from the hard drive:

  1. Copy i386 information from the i386 directory to a created i386 directory on the hard drive.
  2. Run Winnt.exe or win32.exe
  3. Nomally you will create three setup disks unless you skip this option.
  4. The installation will create a temporary $WIN_NT$~LS or ~BS directory. If this file is gone at the end of the installation, the installation was completed.
  5. When done you will reboot the system and the system will run 32 bit code.


sysdiff /snap [/log:logfile] snapshotfile
sysdiff /diff [/log:logfile] snapshotfile differencefile
sysdiff /inf [/u] snapshotfile oemroot
sysdiff /dump differencefile dumpfile

The "oemroot" location, above, is the directory with additional files and directories with custom installation. An emergency repair disk can be created at installation time or it can be made later using the RDISK.EXE utility.