XP unattended Setup problem

Hi experts,

trying to get the Windows XP pro unattended setup to run (already mastered Windows NT and Windows 2000, so I am not quite a beginner ...) I ran into the following problems. 100 pts to whoever can help me with any of the two, so a 200 pts total awaits you!

Problem 1: After the text mode setup portion has completed copying files, the machine does not reboot by itself, but requires me to reboot manually. The last screen displayed is the usual file copy progress bar, showing 100% files copied, no filename in the upper right corner, and there the machine sits and waits forever.

Problem 2: if I do reboot the machine manually, unattended setup continues, runs almost all the way through textmode and GUI setup without a problem, and then displays an error like this:

Fatal Error:

An error has been encountered that prevents Setup from continuing. Setup failed to install the product catalogs. This is a fatal error. The setup log files should contain more information.

Press OK to view the Setup log file

Pressing OK shows a logfile with exactly 2 useless messages in it, and no more clue what has happened. Message 1 is an error (not a fatal error) complaining that the system time was invalid, and has me check the system time settings in the BIOS. Bogus message, the system time is fine. The second message is an exact copy of the message displayed before.

Environment: I start the XP setup over the network using a DOS based bootdisk to connect to the distribution server. The sharepoint as well as the unattended file have both been created using setupmgr.exe from the deploy.cab file of the XP CD-ROM. The harddrive has been wiped and repartitioned before I started winnt.exe. So the Microsoft articles that describe a similiar problem when upgrading from a previous installation of 98 or ME do not apply.

Anyone who can help, or has observed the same problem?

Thanks,

Armin Linder
LVL 4
arminlAsked:
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MoondancerConnect With a Mentor Commented:
200 points have been refunded to you and this question moved at zero points to our PAQ and closed.  Thanks for posting the solution you implemented to resolve your problem.  If any experts here were instrumental in getting you to the solution, you can always post separate questions for them in this same topic area and entitle them Points for __Expertname__ and in the comment field paste this QID (question link).

Thanks,
Moondancer - EE Moderator
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dew_associatesCommented:
arminl, how are you handling the construction of the Winnt.sif and Unattend.txt files for the installation.

Here's a URL that may help you.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q308662

We do this for OEM installs on new equipment, however you may want to check the HCL for your boxes.

Dennis
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arminlAuthor Commented:
Tracked problem 1 myself last night. Its a BUG, and its a SHAME. I need to change the system clock (no kidding!) to a time/date before daylight saving kicked in (e.g. January 2002) and the unattended install succeeds. Only "certain" (which ...?) versions of XP CD-ROMS taken from the MSDN library are affected. I may, after the unattended installation has finished, revert the clock setting to correct date/time.

Problem 2 still remains: the unattended installation halts after the first copying sequence. I suspect that the setup may probably interfere with smartdrv, but haven't had any time to do further testing yet.

Armin Linder
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dew_associatesCommented:
Armin, I think you may have to dig deeper. We build our server images using the MSDN disks and we haven't had any such problems as you describe.

The second problem is probably because you haven't built a Winnt.sif file and point the installation manager to it. You should also be creating installation log files to be able to follow the progess of the installation and where a failure occurs.
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arminlAuthor Commented:
Nope. Dug deep enough. Just copied this from

msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/resources/release.asp

"Windows® XP Home Edition (Korean) and Windows XP Professional (German) Volume License Version were originally released by MSDN with an incorrect catalog file (NT5INF.CAT) which disallows setup after May 31, 2002, and may interfere with new hardware installation."

The article also states that I can get the file from other disks also included in my MSDN pack, not tried yet, but looks good.

Armin Linder
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dew_associatesCommented:
Hmmm, okay, but that why we wouldn't have seen it, as you're using the Korean and German versions. We're using the US version and doing some setup for Bulgaria.
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dew_associatesCommented:
If you can't locate what you need, let me know and we'll try and help out.
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arminlAuthor Commented:
Tried it, replaced the file for one from a different VP version (not MSDN), and the catalog file is history. Fixed.

Currently I am working on the hang after 100% files copied poblem. May be hardware-dependent (all computers are the same here), or XP does interfere with something in the LAN-Manager network client I use to boot the machine and connect to the distribution server.

I have also observed, when testing the nt5inf.cat file fix on three identical computers, that one of the machines did not hang after copying files this time, while two others did. Since the whole process is entirely batch driven there is no chance for missing files or typos. And, as stated, after a warm reboot setup resumes like normal and works OK. This looks like XP either not trying or failing to trigger the warm boot after phase 1 of the copy process has finished.

Last question: how do I implement your hint that
"You should also be creating installation log files to be able to follow the progess of the installation and where a failure occurs." The failure appears within the very first file copy phase, soon after winnt.exe has been started.

How to I tell the setup to write a logfile?

Armin Linder
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dew_associatesCommented:
I can tell you more about logging the deployment if you would tell me how you are actually doing the deployment and what files you are using, such as sysdiff, winnt.sif, or any other files for an unattended installation.
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arminlAuthor Commented:
Currently I am at the very first step (regarding Windows XP, as I said, I have done lots of unattended setups for Windows 2000 and Windows NT4).

What I have done so far is business as usual:

To save me some typing I have created an unattend.txt file using the setupmgr tool from the deploy.cab cabinet from the Windows XP CD \support directory. I modified some settings, but they are not to blame, already reversed them to their default, and the problem persists.

I have set up a copy of the i386 directory of the Windows XP CD on a Windows NT4 fileserver and shared it.

I have created a DOS based bootdisk that connects me to the server and mounts a drive z: pointing to the i386 directory created above

Then I start z:\i386\winnt.exe /unattend:z:\i386\unattend.txt /s:z:\i386

the XP setup starts copying tons of files, and displays a progress bar. When at 100%, it is supposed to reboot and continue. Instead, it hangs, until I warm-boot the machine manually. then setup continues and runs all the way through to the end like a charm.

Unfortunately, the unattended setup isn't completely hands-free, since I need to visit the machines and reboot.

Right now things start to clear up a bit: I have 8 identical machines here in my lab. All BUT ONE of them hang at the very same place ALMOST every time, one does NEVER hang there.

I started to check for differences now, and found that all the machines vary slightly in their BIOS settings. So thats the thing I check right now, wether changing BIOS settings makes the problem go away. I also brought in another computer (a laptop) with entirely different hardware and BIOS to see wether it's probably just a problem with the lab computers.

I guess that within the next hours I will be able to tell wether the hanging problem is BIOS and/or hardware related (which is my primary guess). So don't waste any time on this question right now, I will inform you about any new findings.

Armin Linder

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dew_associatesCommented:
Armin, check the APM/ACPI settings in the bios. If that is causing a problem, you may need to revise the txtsetup.sif file and manually handle the APM/ACPI issues. XP is not like either NT or 2000 in its install geometry.
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arminlAuthor Commented:
Meanwhile I have positively confirmed that my hanging problem is depending on the harddisk in use. Moving the "bad" disks to different computers also moves the problem 100% of the times, while putting in one of the "good" disks cures it at once.

So I am currently trying to find out wether it is the disk geometry, sector translation, firmware, size, noise management, or something alike that makes XP stumble.

Think I get things going pretty soon, I'll keep you informed.

Armin Linder
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arminlAuthor Commented:
Got things fixed.

After wiping them I had formatted the failing harddisks using the 64KBit cluster/4GByte FAT16 partitions of NT4 to get some more space on the c: drive. These partitions make the XP Setup fail to boot.

After I removed the FAT16/64KBit partitions and created ordinary 2GB FAT16/32KBit cluster partitions the XP setup worked fine.

Thanks for trying to help. I will contact EE staff to PAQ this question, it might be helpful for someone in the future.

Armin Linder

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arminlAuthor Commented:
Got things fixed.

After wiping them I had formatted the failing harddisks using the 64KBit cluster/4GByte FAT16 partitions of NT4 to get some more space on the c: drive. These partitions make the XP Setup fail to boot.

After I removed the FAT16/64KBit partitions and created ordinary 2GB FAT16/32KBit cluster partitions the XP setup worked fine.

Thanks for trying to help. I will contact EE staff to PAQ this question, it might be helpful for someone in the future.

Armin Linder

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