Tech Tips / Windows 2000 Server / Installation and Configuration

Unattended installation from the CD

Windows 2000 includes support for unattended installation performed directly from the CD. All you have to do is create an answer file (in Notepad or with Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard), modify a few entries, and put the answer file on the floppy.

The answer file for CD-based unattended installation is the same as a normal answer file, with the addition of a special [Data] section and its filename, Winnt.sif. Both are required!

The [Data] section has the following lines:

  AutoPartition = "1"
  MsDosInitiated = "1"
  UnattendedInstall = Yes

The only entry you should change is AutoPartition. If you set it to "0" you'll be prompted to create and select the partition during the setup. If you leave it at "1" the setup will repartition your hard drive and won't prompt you to select the destination partition. Be careful when modifying this entry!

Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard (Setupmgr.exe) can automatically create the required [Data] section if you select No, This Answer File Will Be Used To Install From A CD on the Distribution Folder screen. You will still have to manually name this file Winnt.sif.

When you want to install Windows 2000, just insert the CD and floppy and choose to boot from the CD. (You do this in your computer's BIOS.) You can use this method only when your computer supports booting from the CD. All new computers support this, but you should check it, anyway, in your computer's manual.

The downside to this method is that you can't use UDF files or any type of branding (modifying setup pictures, some Internet Explorer settings, etc.) that requires distribution share.

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