Section 1.4: Performing an Unattended Installation

Microsoft allows for the automated installation of Windows Server 2003 through unattended installations. There are three mechanisms through which an unattended installation can be performed. These are through:

• unattended answer files;

• disk imaging using the System Preparation Tool; and

• Remote Installation Services

1.4.1: Using an Unattended Answer File

The first mechanism you can use to perform an unattended installation of Windows Server 2003 is to use an answer file. An answer file is an automated script that supply’s the Windows Server 2003 Setup program with all the information it would require during the installation.

• You can use Setup Manager located in the file in the /support/tools folder of the Windows Server 2003 Installation CD to create and modify an answer file or you can manually create the Answer file. You can use Setup Manager to create an answer file for an unattended installation, a sysprep install, and for a Remote Installation Services.

1.4.2: Using the System Preparation Tool

With disk imaging it is possible to install and configure Windows Server 2003 and all the applications and application update packs on a test computer and then create an exact image of the hard drive that can then be used to install Windows Server 2003 and the applications on other client computers. However, all the target computers to which the image is to be applied must have the same hardware configuration as the test computer. You will also have to change the computer name of all the target computers as each computer on the network must have a unique name.

You should use the Sysprep, after installing and configuring Windows Server 2003, the applications and application update packages on a test computer, to prepare the computer of disk imaging. You should then run the disk imaging program after Sysprep has completed. Sysprep adds a mini-Setup Wizard to the disk image that will request the user-specific information such as productID, user name, network configuration, etc, on the first reboot of the target computer. This information can either be supplied by the user or by an answer file.

1.4.3: Using Remote Installation Services (RIS)

Unlike Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003 can be deployed using Remote Installation Services (RIS). Remote installation is the process of connecting to Remote Installation Services (RIS) server from a target computer and then performing an automated installation of Windows Server 2003 on the target computer. This is the most effective method of deploying Windows Server 2003. Remote Installation allows administrators to use a centrally located computer to install Windows Server 2003 on a target computer, i.e. the computer on which the Windows Server 2003 operating system is to be installed, anywhere on a network. It however requires that your network already has a Windows Server 2003 server infrastructure in place and that the target computers support remote booting.