How to Create an autounattend.xml File and Automate a Windows Install

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Many organizations have a process of installing Windows operating systems. In some cases, they’ll even create an autounattend.xml file for the installation wizard to use as it installs your new copy of Windows. This guide will walk you through how to make that happen and automate your Windows install with PowerCLI from VMware vSphere Automation Center.,

The “windows answer file generator” is a tool that will create an autounattend.xml file and automate a Windows Install. The Autounattend.xml file is used to configure the Windows installation for unattended installations.

How to Create an autounattend.xml File and Automate a Windows Install

Installing Windows is one of the most time-consuming aspects of deploying a new Windows client or server. The installation procedure requires you to specify several configuration parameters in advance so that Windows understands how to install the operating system. Let’s make this more automated by locating the Autounattend.xml file and learning how to construct an autounattend XML file.

On a Windows PC, automation usually begins after the installation procedure. After all, you’ll need something to automate on, right? Not at all. In fact, using a single well-placed file, you may totally automate the install phase when installing Windows from a WIM or ISO file.

Autounattend.xml

A file named AutoUnattend.xml is required to automate a Windows installation. Keep that name in mind. When included within the ISO, it must be precisely that name. This is an XML file that may be used as an install answer file, answering all of the setup questions so you don’t have to.

The first step is to make this document. It’s usually a good idea to start with a template since this file must be formatted in a precise manner. To get started, you may get an example template here. This file is divided into the many stages of a Windows installation.

  • PE (Windows) (bootstrapping and disk configuration)
  • specialization (setting computer name, users, etc.)
  • systemoobe (local administrator password, etc.)

If you want to start from the beginning, you may use the Windows File Answer Generator to create this template. This autounattend generator is a website with a wizard-like interface that allows you to answer basic questions and generate an unattended XML file.

If you utilize an existing template or the Windows File Answer Generator site, the template will almost certainly need to be updated by hand.

Because XML is so particular about structure and individual nodes, it’s likely that the initial version of your template won’t function. But, before we go into it, let’s at least attempt the first version.

The Autounattend XML is included into the ISO.

After you’ve produced the AutoUnattend.xml file, you’ll need to place it in the Windows ISO’s needed autounattend XML directory.

Unfortunately, without the use of third-party software, this is not a simple task. WinISO or a combination of extracting and producing a new ISO file using 7Zip are two options. In any case, the procedure is not as automatic as you would imagine, but there was no other option as of this writing.

Once you’ve decided on a technique for inserting a file into the ISO, copy the AutoUnattend.xml file to the ISO’s root directory. This file may be stored in a number different locations, but I’ve found that putting it at the root is the most convenient.

Begin the Automated Installation

It’s now time to test the ISO once the file has been placed in the root directory and a new ISO has been created. All of the hard work is completed at this time. Simply add the ISO to your virtualization platform of choice as a media drive and start the VM.

The only change is that instead of being asked with questions, the installation will now be completely automated. Windows will be installed at this point, along with any other scripts or settings you’ve applied!

Summary

Creating a well-formed autounattend.xml is the key to doing a Windows unattended installation. You should have everything you need to start automating Windows OS deployments in no time if you use the sample I’ve supplied and the Windows File Answer Generator site.

The “unattend file generator” is a tool that can be used to create an autounattend.xml file and automate a Windows Install. This will help you save time during the installation process.

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