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Creating unattend install using WSIM, MDT, WINPE 3, Image-X

I have roughly 100 workstations that we are finally upgrading to Windows 7 Enterprise x86 from Windows XP SP3.  All workstations are Dell Precision T3400s or T5500s.  Previously when I deployed these workstations I used WinPE 3 along with Imagex to create an image of a reference computer and then applied that image to the remaining computers as they were deployed.  Today I was trying to create an unattend.xml file for one of my existing T5500 images using WSIM just as practice to see if I could automate the process for when the time comes to create and deploy the Windows 7 image.  

I received an error when choosing my existing T5500 image from within the WSIM: "Cannot find the catalog file associated with the WIndows image WIM1"  It then asks if I want to create one, so I chose yes after which I received another error: Windows SIM was unable to generate a catalog.  The location does not contain a valid windows image or contains files that cannot be opened with read/write priveleges." (see attached SS).  My image file is XP Pro SP 3, if that makes a difference?  

I downloaded and installed MDT, created a deployment share, added an OS (from the XP Pro SP3 CD) and then tried to point the WSIM to the deployment share after adding the aforementioned T5500 XP Image (I had no clue really what I was doing there!).  Somehow I thought that might help.  So my questions are:  Can I use my previously made T5500 image to create an unattended answer file or do I need to make a new Win 7 image and if so, should I go about differently than simply creating the reference computer how I want it and then syspreping it before using WinPE and Imagex?  

I do not have a deployment server, I just want to create an unattend file so all workstations marked for upgrade can be touched once: booted to WinPE and pointed to the network share with the image file.  Sorry if this is confusing.
Windows 7Dell

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8/22/2022 - Mon
James Haywood

You need to select a .wim image that contains the version of windows you are trying to create the answer file for (ie Windows 7 Enterprise x86).
You can use the same techniques for creating the reference image.
MDT is great but if you just want to use imagex and a network share then don't bother with it (although I really do reccomend WDS for deployment - very quick and easy to setup and use)


thanks for the response.  I think I came to the same conclusion yesterday after some fumbling about and reading through a win 7 certification study book.  What I've done so far:  used Windows SIM to create an answer file for XP Pro SP3 for my xp pro image that i used sysprep with the /oobe switch before capturing it.  I've saved that answer file as autounattend.xml on a usb flash drive.  I then went into MDT and loaded my existing xp pro .wim file, created a task sequence and made it full automated by editing the config and bootstrap files.  I updated the deployment share and it created an x86 iso and wim files which I used to burn a CD.  It worked great, the image applied without any user interaction!  The problem is since the image was sysprep'ed once it reboots it apparently doesn't see the answer file on the usb stick as it still requires user interaction to complete the mini-setup.  How can I get this process automated as well?  Maybe I made the answer file incorrectly or does it need to be incorporated in the image somehow?  

Thanks for your help!!

PS.  When trying to use my XP Pro SP3 .wim image, i got the error in the screen on my first post; so I instead used the install.wim file from my x86 win 7 ent. CD.  I bet that's the problem.  How can I create an autounattend from an XP CD?
James Haywood

For XP create a task sequence that will push out the XP .wim, this will create an answer file automatically which you can then edit.
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William Peck

So basically I need to use MDT, use the 'add operating system' and point it to the XP Pro SP3 CD, then add a new task, edit that task and reconfigure the config and bootstrap.ini files to make it unattended, and then that file should be saved to the deployment folder after updating the deployment share?  As 'LiteTouch_x86.xml'?  <--that file will make the mini-xp setup within the xp image become automated?  How would I bundle it in so that the mini-xp setup sees it?  I'm almost thinking I would have to start over with the image creation and use setup manager to create a sysprep answer file?  I know Windows SIM definitely will not work with XP..  sorry I'm just trying to wrap my mind around all this.
James Haywood

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Right, I had it wrong in my mind, this is what I needed, thank you!