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Windows 2000 Deployment: Stupid Answer-File Tricks for Windows 2000

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Windows 2000 deployment expert Jerry Honeycutt shows you useful things you can do with answer files. Call them stupid answer-file tricks if you like, but you'll learn how to distribute files with Windows 2000, run other programs during the setup process, or change installation directories.
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The answer file you learned about in my last article is pretty basic. It automates the installation of Windows 2000, but prompts users for the local administrator account's password and for the credentials necessary to join their computer to the domain. Users do not see any prompts to convert the file system to NTFS. and they do not see any prompts for the computer's networking configuration. In this article, I'm going to extend our answer file's capabilities by adding files to the installation.

Adding Files to the Installation

First, I'm going to show you how to add files to the installation. You can deploy any file you want with Windows 2000. You can also replace any source file you want. In the I386 directory containing the Windows 2000 source files, presumably on a network share such as \\server\w2k\i386, create a directory called $OEM$. Within that directory, create two subdirectories, $$ and $1. Listing 1 shows what this looks like.

The setup program copies this entire $OEM$ directory structure to each target machine if you put OemPreinstall = "Yes" in the [Unattended] section of your answer file. Any directories and files you create under $$ are copied by the setup program to C:\Winnt. Any directories and files you create under $1 are copied by the setup program to the root of drive C. I'm assuming that you installed Windows 2000 on drive C. You can do more than this with the $OEM$ directory structure, but this gets you started. Now, let's assume that you want to automatically upgrade Windows 2000 from low to high encryption. To do that, copy the Rsaenhs.dll from the high-encryption disk that comes with Windows 2000 to $OEM$\$$\System32. This copies this file to C:\Winnt\System32 on each target computer, automatically upgrading to high encryption.

Listing 1


The Windows 2000 source files, including your $OEM$ directory structure, must use 8.3 file names. Sometimes, you'll want to copy a file to the target computer using a long file name, though. Anywhere in the $OEM$ directory structure, you can create a file called $$Rename.txt and add a section for each subdirectory. Within each subdirectory's section, add entries like shortname=longname. The setup program will rename file called shortname to longname when it copies the file from the source files to the target computer. One instance in particular will be very useful, and that is when including third-party device drivers that use long file names. Listing 2 shows an example of what $$Rename.txt might look like.

Listing 2

    short.txt=”long file name.txt”
    example.cab=”long example.cab” 

Now you know how to add files to the Windows 2000 source files using the $OEM$ directory structure. You copy the i386 folder from your Windows 2000 CD to a network share; then, under the i386 folder on the network share, you create the directory structure you saw in Listing 1. By adding the OemPreinstall item to your answer file, the setup program will copy these OEM files to each target computer. It copies anything in $$ to C:\Winnt and anything in $1 to drive C.

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