Running an Unattended Installation

Unless you have only two or three servers, it’s likely that you tire fairly quickly of being a high-paid installation babysitter, shoving disks and CD-ROMs in and out of machines while telling them all what country you live in. For all but the smallest of Windows shops, it is a good idea to use the Windows unattended installation feature—that is, installations run by files constructed by an administrator ahead of time that answer all of Setup’s questions. This will save you time and make deploying and rolling out the operating system less tedious.

You can automate Windows installations using one of three main methods. The first is through the use of unattended installation scripts, which are simple to configure and use but lack some flexibility in deploying to machines that are configured with different hardware. Scripts are best when you have a uniform hardware base.

The second method is through the use of Remote Installation Services (RIS), a very useful feature that enables you to boot from the network and install Windows without any sort of distribution media. With this method, you have a lot of upfront configuration, but on the other hand, you can deploy to nearly any base of hardware, and you can customize certain aspects of the user experience during the installation, too. RIS is most appropriate when you have a diverse hardware base, plenty of network bandwidth, and computers that can boot from the network.

The third and final method to ...

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