How can I install Windows 2003 Server OS over the Internet ?

Posted on 2005-04-27
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-18
Hi ,

I need to install Windows server 2003 over the Internet . I know all about RIS server and imaging solutions . The problem is that I have no physical access to the machine itself , its in a different contenent .

I can get to it using Remote Desktop .
I suggest that an OS image ( with all necessary answers ) be prepared and that the server is somehow configured to reboot from that image digesting all answers and getting back with Remote Desktop enabled !

I think I am going crazy !

Question by:raedaljarrah
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Expert Comment

ID: 13877544
how can you get to it using Remote deskop if there isn't an OS installed on the system yet?  Is it currently running 2000 server or something?

Expert Comment

ID: 13877603
wow, what a topic! One (not me...) could write a book about this... ;-)

Basically, you'll need to create a bootable W2K3 CD which has a file "winnt.sif" in the \I386 folder and the winnt.sif file contains all the information needed to install the OS: partition information, productid, admin password, regional settings, IE settings, etc etc etc...

When the CD is inserted and machine booted, Windows will install itself according the winnt.sif  answer file.

I suggest you dont slipstream SP1 onto CD because SP1 has the wirewall turned on as "post-install security setting" as long as the user clicks "yes, i've done all neccessary security updates, please let me go to internet and stop bugging me...". I quess that feature can also be turned off at sp1 setup but i dont know how.

Check http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/techinfo/reskit/deploykit.mspx -> Automating and Customizing Installations

there i think you'll find all neccessary information on the winnt.sif and other features of unattended installation of Windows 2003.

Expert Comment

ID: 13877672

> I can get to it using Remote Desktop .

is this the actual problem? So the server allready exists and W2K3 is up-n-running?

Remote Desktop for Administration is installed by default in Windows Server 2003, but for security reasons comes preconfigured as disabled. It can be enabled through the System control panel’s Remote Tab.

Perhaps you just could ask a local techican to enable Remote Desktop on the server?

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Expert Comment

ID: 13877694

> I can get to it using Remote Desktop .

ok, so you CAN get to it... my mistake... ;-)
LVL 12

Accepted Solution

Carlo-Giuliani earned 1000 total points
ID: 13877734
Ajsaasta is right, you need to use the automated install process.

However, from experience, I can tell you this is not easy.  It is worth doing if you have to do a large number of similar installs, or if you need to prepare to do an install very quickly, or if you want to be sure you can reproduce an install procedure exactly.  But if you just have one machine to install that is far away, bite the bullet and pay for the travel expenses.

The toughest thing about automated installs (at least, in Win2K...I have'nt tried Win2K3 yet) is that there is no usefull feedback or messages from the automation.  If you do something wrong in the winnt.sif file then it often very difficult to figure out what is wrong.  

You will also have to learn how to create your own bootable install CDs, which is another subject.

Assisted Solution

ajsaasta earned 1000 total points
ID: 13877930
I agree with Carlo-Giuliani, making a winnt.sif is not difficult but making such .sif that works is totally different task.

Bootable CD:s can be made by "Bart's way", http://www.nu2.nu/bootcd/

Follow the instructions of W2000 but use the WinXP package (compare the package to Win2000 server package and you'll see the 4 different files). I've made dozens of bootable cd:s with all neccessary programs (not pre-installed but as installation packages) on themm works great.

Adding a working winnt.sif to the CD in \I386 folder and running post-install scripts which would install all neccessary programs (virus protection, adobe, etc.) would be the next step for me. But determining the number of auto admin logons and pre-configuring the installers (all are not .msi) and doing just the correct number of reboots etc. is such task that I'll do it when i've got more than 20 identical servers to install...

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