Windows 2000 Installation and Update Methods

Unattended Installations

If you were a Windows NT pioneer, or handled deployment on systems with different hardware, you might remember that before we had the luxury of imaging all of our identical systems, we could take the time to create an unattended installation. After all, an installation was only a series of questions to be answered, right? The problem was creating those darn unattend.txt files, and those who had a fear of anything without a GUI avoided them like the plague. Well, Microsoft came up with a solution called Setup Manager. While this tool also existed in on the NT 4.0 CD, it is now a little friendlier and has other uses. Setupmgr.exe (also part of is a GUI-based program that allows you to create new or edit existing answer files. All you do is plug in the ‘answers’ and Setup Manager pumps out the text file for you – no more worrying about whether your format is good or not. Setup Manager is also important because it can also create a Sysprep.inf file, which can be used to answer the questions asked by the mini-setup program after using Sysprep with an image. Finally, Setup Manager can also be used to create answer files for a RIS-based installation. Initiating an unattended installation isn’t much different than in the past. It is worth reviewing the syntax to the /u and /unattend switches for winnt.exe and winnt32.exe respectively. And yes, UDF (uniqueness database files) files and records still exist.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.