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Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Part 5. Automating deployment

. Posted in Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

This article will explain how to setup WDS in unattended mode, partitioning and formatting drives and selecting the correct image automatically.

A 'WDSClientUnattend.xml' file needs to be created which tells the Windows PE boot environment what to do including what language to use, what credentials to use (for connecting to the WDS server), how to partition the disk and which image to deploy.

For Vista, this can be done per image as 'sysprep.inf' options are also specified but when deploying XP you must specify the 'WDSClientUnattend.xml' script at the server level.

  • Copy, and edit as appropriate, the sample 'WDSClientUnattend.xml' file from below and place it in the WDSClientUnattend folder under the RemoteInstall share.
  • In the WDS console, right-click on your server name, choose properties and then the client tab.
  • Tick the 'Enable unattended installation' check box and browse to your 'WDSClientUnattend.xml' file.

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
 - <unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
   - <settings pass="windowsPE">
     - <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Setup" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" processorArchitecture="x86">
      - <WindowsDeploymentServices>
        - <Login>
          - <Credentials>
              <Username>Replace with an appropriate username</Username>
              <Domain>Replace with your domain name</Domain>
              <Password>Replace with your password</Password>
        - <ImageSelection>
          - <InstallImage>
              <ImageName>Image name as shown in the WDS console</ImageName>
              <ImageGroup>Image group name as shown in the WDS console</ImageGroup>
              <Filename>Image filename (e.g. image.wim)</Filename>
          - <InstallTo>
      - <DiskConfiguration>
        - <Disk>
          - <CreatePartitions>
            - <CreatePartition>
        - <ModifyPartitions>
          - <ModifyPartition>
        - <DiskID>0</DiskID>
    - <component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" processorArchitecture="x86">
      - <SetupUILanguage>

The complete file can be downloaded here.

When you now boot into the WinPE deployment environment (e.g. Turn on > F12 > PXE boot > Deploy Windows XP) you will no longer be prompted for any settings.  The drive (including any hidden OEM partitions) will be wiped, a new partition created and formatted, the required image will be selected (after automatically logging in to WDS), the locale will be selected and finally the installation will be confirmed and started.

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