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sysprep image for WDS deployment

    Question

  • Hello!

     

    I've been working with WDS off and on for months and I have yet to fully understand some of the proceedural things going on behind the scenes. I'm having a very hard time trying to automating deployments and having my unattended files be processed as I intend them to be.

    I configured an OS the way I wanted it and ran sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /unattend:unattend.xml. The unattend.xml only had settings to skip slmgr.vbs -rearm in the generalize configuration pass, and to copy the admin profile as the default profile in the specialization configuration pass. One thing I don't undersand is that according to MS documentation. the Admin account is deleted and regenerated as disabled and w/o a password during the generalization pass, so how can it copy the profile to the default profile during the subsequent specialization pass?

    My intent was to create a base image that I can capture to my WDS server and then handle the rest of the configurations with unattended files specified within the WDS server MMC. This doesn't seem to work though.

    If I boot a new machine, approve and name it in WDS, and then image it with the previously described sealed image, it will autojoin it to the domain with the computer name specified during the approval -- this is good, however, when i check &windir&\panther\unattend.xml it is an unattended file created by the WDS server, not the one that the machine was sysprepped with. Furthermore, if I then associate the image with an unattened file that specifies the product key, admin accounts, ect and re-image the computer again, it will no longer keep the machine name or join it to the domain. There seems to be an issue of precedence involving the unattended files.

    How should a windows installation be sysprepped for uploading to a WDS server?

    WDS seems like it could be a useful deployment solution, but these processes often confusingly redundant and unclear.

    I would greatly appreciate any insight on this issue!


    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 5:21 PM

Answers

  • It is possible that you got the unattend.xml precedence wrong.

    Please see the below articles that explains the precedence:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc749415(WS.10).aspx

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766320(WS.10).aspx

    Answer files are discovered in order of precedence in predefined search paths

    1. Install Windows with an answer file by using the steps in the previous scenario. The answer file used to install Windows is cached to the system in the %WINDIR%\Panther directory.
    2. Copy an Unattend.xml file to the %WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep directory.
      This answer file has settings in the generalize pass.
    3. Run the sysprep /generalize command to create a reference image.
      Because the %WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep directory is in the implicit search paths, the answer file copied to this directory is found. However, an answer file that was used to install Windows is still cached on the computer and contains settings for the generalize pass. This cached answer file has a higher precedence than the one copied to the Sysprep directory. The cached answer file is used.

     


    Sumesh P - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Friday, September 09, 2011 1:13 PM
  • precedence involving the unattended files. - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc725577(WS.10).aspx How should a windows installation be sysprepped for uploading to a WDS server? -- create a capture image under boot images in WDS and PXE boot the sysprep'd machine and capture an image - I would like to know wht image unattend and WDS client unattend files are being used and what OS is being deployed?
    Sumesh P - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Friday, September 09, 2011 2:26 PM
  •  

    The built-in administrator account profile is deleted when you perform a clean Windows installation or when you run the Sysprep tool. TheCopyProfile setting is processed before the built-in administrator account is deleted. Therefore, any customizations that you make will appear in the new user account profile. This includes the built-in administrator account profile settings.
     
    Not all customizations will propagate to new profiles. Some settings are reset by the new user logon process. To configure those settings, use Group Policy settings or scripting.
     
    How to customize the default local user profile when you prepare an image of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2
     http://support.microsoft.com/kb/973289


    Sumesh P - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Friday, September 09, 2011 2:27 PM

All replies

  • This issue mainly occurs when the unattended.xml file you created with the sysprep machine is not saved in the correct location. There should be a folder called, "Remote Installation". The folder location varies depending on what you specified on your initial configuration during WDS Installation.

    Inside the RemoteInstall folder is another folder called, "WdsClientUnattend". This is where you must save your answer files and attach them to the associated image you want.

    ------------------------------

    What I would do is this. I would setup a WDS Server and install AIK and possibly the Deployment Toolkit (in-case you want to poke around later). On the client machine, install an OS, install all the Windows Updates, drivers (even printer drivers that the client would use) and any software titles you want on it. After the machine is set up exactly like you want it, go over to your WDS Server to set up the answer files.

    It is easier to use a basic install.wim from the OS CD than to sysprep the machine for a capture when the answer files are not ready yet (eliminates an entire OS re-installation). Using the System Image Manager that AIK installed, create a distribution share. Select the install.wim file you copied over and play around with it. There are some guides to doing a basic setup but since you have been working on / off on it for months copying someones answer file will probably be more of a headache than playing around with it. The "Components" section has tons of stuff to play around with. There are a few guides out there like this one for Deploying Windows 7.

    After you get an idea of what WDS can do in terms of your WIM file (joining the domain, setting a home page etc.) That is when I would sysprep /oobe /generalize your machine and capture it to your WDS Server. From there its easy sailing. All you have to do is add your captured image, associate the answer file you created for it, and it should deploy your sysprep image nice and smoothly.

    Everyone's situation and needs are different and there is no real way to say, "do this or do that" and it will work. Being in the working environment and knowing what your needs are is something only poking around will do, which it looks like you have already done quite a bit of.

    Hope this helps and good luck!


    Bada-ba-baba ... S-Q-L Servers Down
    Thursday, September 01, 2011 2:07 AM
  • Hello,
                    
    Thank you for your question.
                    
    I am trying to involve someone familiar with this topic to further look at this issue. There might be some time delay. Appreciate your patience.
                    
    Thank you for your understanding and support.
    Technology changes life……
    Wednesday, September 07, 2011 9:54 AM
  • It is possible that you got the unattend.xml precedence wrong.

    Please see the below articles that explains the precedence:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc749415(WS.10).aspx

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc766320(WS.10).aspx

    Answer files are discovered in order of precedence in predefined search paths

    1. Install Windows with an answer file by using the steps in the previous scenario. The answer file used to install Windows is cached to the system in the %WINDIR%\Panther directory.
    2. Copy an Unattend.xml file to the %WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep directory.
      This answer file has settings in the generalize pass.
    3. Run the sysprep /generalize command to create a reference image.
      Because the %WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep directory is in the implicit search paths, the answer file copied to this directory is found. However, an answer file that was used to install Windows is still cached on the computer and contains settings for the generalize pass. This cached answer file has a higher precedence than the one copied to the Sysprep directory. The cached answer file is used.

     


    Sumesh P - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Friday, September 09, 2011 1:13 PM
  • precedence involving the unattended files. - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc725577(WS.10).aspx How should a windows installation be sysprepped for uploading to a WDS server? -- create a capture image under boot images in WDS and PXE boot the sysprep'd machine and capture an image - I would like to know wht image unattend and WDS client unattend files are being used and what OS is being deployed?
    Sumesh P - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Friday, September 09, 2011 2:26 PM
  •  

    The built-in administrator account profile is deleted when you perform a clean Windows installation or when you run the Sysprep tool. TheCopyProfile setting is processed before the built-in administrator account is deleted. Therefore, any customizations that you make will appear in the new user account profile. This includes the built-in administrator account profile settings.
     
    Not all customizations will propagate to new profiles. Some settings are reset by the new user logon process. To configure those settings, use Group Policy settings or scripting.
     
    How to customize the default local user profile when you prepare an image of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2
     http://support.microsoft.com/kb/973289


    Sumesh P - Microsoft Online Community Support
    Friday, September 09, 2011 2:27 PM