Unattended mode install-CD winnt.sif Expert Question (Win-XP

Questions about Update Pack making? Ask here.
Post Reply
User avatar
Bhishmar
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:42 pm

Unattended mode install-CD winnt.sif Expert Question (Win-XP)

Post by Bhishmar » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:33 am

I have a few questions to the Unattended mode usage experts here.

This is related to the location & usage of $OEM$ folders in the unattended boot-CD (Win-XP source), & the OEMFilesPath= item in the "winnt.sif" file.

There is enough confusion in the placement (location) of this $OEM$ folder among various documents from MS & other net-literature (MSFN).

Questions :
1: Where should the $OEM$ be placed in a CD based install?
  1. inside I386 folder.
  2. same level as I386 folder?
2a. Is an "OEMFilesPath= something" entry required & mandatory inside [Unattended] section of winnt.sif, when $OEM$ folder is used?
2b. If it is required what is the syntax of this entry, after = sign [RHS]?
2c. Can somebody elaborate on the rules governing these items, not only in a cd-based install but on winnt.exe, winnt32.exe based installs?

3a. Is there a comment character inside winnt.sif? What is this character?
3b. Can this comment character appear at the right side of a valid entry in the same-line, with comment string following it (inline-comments) ?

If the answer for question 3a is the ";" character, I have a followup question:
4a. The synatax for OemPnPDriversPath entry , in unatended section is as follows:-
OemPnPDriversPath= folder1; folder2
So if a ";" character follows this line, the winnt.sif parser can get confused as to whether it is comment-string or a 3rd folder-name?

Can somebody who is knowlegeable please clarify?
User expereinces/feedback are welcome.
regds.

User avatar
galileo
Posts: 106
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:11 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC USA

Re: Unattended mode install-CD winnt.sif Expert Question (Win-XP)

Post by galileo » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:17 pm

Bhishmar wrote:1: Where should the $OEM$ be placed in a CD based install?
  • For a CD based install $OEM$ must be at the same level as the I386 folder. For a WINNT32 (hard drive) based install $OEM$ must be placed inside the I386 folder.
Bhishmar wrote:2a. Is an "OEMFilesPath= something" entry required & mandatory inside [Unattended] section of winnt.sif, when $OEM$ folder is used?
  • In order to direct the install to read and use $OEM$, you must place OEMPreinstall = YES in the [Unattended] section of WINNT.SIF. If you are providing system specifc or custom drivers you must provide the path to your drivers using OEMPnPDriversPath = (your path inside the $OEM$ folder)
Bhishmar wrote:2b. If it is required what is the syntax of this entry, after = sign [RHS]?
  • This is from one of my [Unattended] sections: OemPnPDriversPath="drivers\aud240;drivers\sys240;drivers\vid240;drivers\VX710". Note that the quotes "" are not required but are a good idea nontheless - and each of the individual driver folders are separated by ; (a semi-colon). The path is obviously a function of whatever folder structure you elect to use inside of the $OEM$ folder. My particular structure is: $OEM$\drivers\(each of my individual driver folders)
Bhishmar wrote:2c. Can somebody elaborate on the rules governing these items, not only in a cd-based install but on winnt.exe, winnt32.exe based installs?
  • Wow...that could take a "long" time. I suggest that you read and study the contents of the "Deploy.chm" file. Look for Support\Tools\deploy.cab on your Windows XP Professional CD. You can use Windows Explorer or you can run the Extract.exe command to extract and view the Deploy.chm file. That file will, in fact, answer your questions...albeit somewhat clumsily....however, GIYF...
Bhishmar wrote:3a. Is there a comment character inside winnt.sif? What is this character?
  • Yes, place a semi-colon at the beginning of a line to comment out that line.
Bhishmar wrote:3b. Can this comment character appear at the right side of a valid entry in the same-line, with comment string following it (inline-comments) ?
  • Interesting question, I have never tried it - so I cannot answer your question....I will certainly test that out the next time I try an install.
Bhishmar wrote:If the answer for question 3a is the ";" character, I have a followup question:
4a. The synatax for OemPnPDriversPath entry , in unatended section is as follows:-
OemPnPDriversPath= folder1; folder2
So if a ";" character follows this line, the winnt.sif parser can get confused as to whether it is comment-string or a 3rd folder-name?
  • Same answer as your 3b above....I suggest that you simply try it and see. And, I will note here that these types of trial and error questions are more readily aswered by using WINNT32 based installs that by using a CD based install...due to the "cycle" time involved.
Bhishmar wrote:Can somebody who is knowlegeable please clarify?
User expereinces/feedback are welcome.
  • I'm not sure I am "knowledgeable" so, "Use with Caution"..... :lol:
  • galileo

User avatar
Bhishmar
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:42 pm

Post by Bhishmar » Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:05 am

galileo, Thanks for your helpful answers & for your time.

You have answered majority of my questions, & your answers have confirmed my own experiences & whatever reading I had in the past, in most cases. However they were of great help in refreshing my memory, & also in generating a quick reference for me in my future builds.

I have a couple of followup questions.
2a. Is an "OEMFilesPath= something" entry required & mandatory in winnt.sif, when $OEM$ folder is used?
2b. If it is required what is the syntax of this entry, after = sign [RHS]?
My questions-2a,b was for "OEMFilesPath=" entry, But you answered for "OEMPnPDriversPath =" instead! So What is the answer for 2a, 2b?

1: Where should the $OEM$ be placed in a CD based install?
You answer for question-1 was that $OEM$ should be placed along side (same level as) I386. My experience also is the same.
But can u just point to me any official document (URL) which corroborates this statement? All MS documents I have read always say it should be inside $OEM$!

3b. Can this comment character appear at the right side of a valid entry in the same-line, with comment string following it
I have tried ";" character, even-though I could not find any document (official or un-official) mentioning this.
I have also tried the inline comments at the end of a valid line. Infact I use this extensively to self-comment the lines, to act as a quick refrence. It seems to work, even-though I am not sure whether some line is getting affected (negatively) by this. Over all i did not see any negative effects. Meanwhile, Is there any syntax checker program/utility for winnt.sif?

Thanks again & regds

User avatar
galileo
Posts: 106
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:11 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC USA

Post by galileo » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:20 am

@Bishmar

Regarding your question 2a & b: My mistake, I was reading too fast and missed "...Files...." in your question. To answer, the OEMFilesPath entry is to direct the setup routine to read the location of the $OEM$ folder to a location "other" than the "default" location. The only reason that I can think of wherein one would want/need to do this, ostensibly, would be to inslulate each of the file sets from wholesale revisions/changes ~say to make sure that if someone replaced the entire set of Windows installation files they did not accidently remove the OEM files. In such a case, one may have a set of custom (or OEM) files that resides separately from the Windows installation files. Otherwise, I do not see any compelling reason for using this particular option. I would suspect that this option has some usefullness for "large" system suppliers.

As far as the syntax, please take a look at the "ref.chm" help file that is in the SUPPORT\TOOLS\DEPLOY.CAB on your XP Pro CD. You will find the answers to most of your questions - and more - in that help file.

Regarding your question 1: I cannot recall from memory any particular (official) M$ documents/KBs that I have seen this enumerated in. I believe that one can say, without any caveats, that if the $OEM$ folder is placed within the I386 folder, it will never be read during a CD based - unless you provide the path to that folder using the OEMFilesPath discussed in my answer above. I would note that there is a somewhat "cloudy" explanation (more like an unaddressed topic) as to the differences between CD based and hard drive based installs. For instance, the only "answer file" that can be used for CD based installs is WINNT.SIF and it must be placed inside the I386 folder. The UNATTENDED.TXT answer file is identified for use in WINNT32 initiated installs (generally, hard drive based installs). However, one can explicitly direct WINNT32 to use an alternate answer file and specify an explicit path to that file - see the command line switches for it.

Personally, and for simplicity, I use WINNT.SIF as the "name" of my answer file for WINNT32 initiated installs. Thus, I can (nominally speaking) use the "same" file and the "same" location for either CD or hard drive based installs (this is purely for my convenience). Note that there are some differences between the options that are available to the two answer files. M$ has unfortunately left some confusion where there need not have been.

Regarding your question 3b: I know of no syntax checker per se. However, the "setupmgr.exe" applet (again, inside the SUPPORT\TOOLS\DEPLOY.CAB on your XP Pro CD) will guide you through the assembly of WINNT.SIF and UNATTENDED.TXT answer files. This does not answer your question regarding using comments but, I cannot recall any M$ document that clearly ( :P ) addresses that question.

galileo

User avatar
Bhishmar
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:42 pm

Post by Bhishmar » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:06 am

Thanks again galileo for ur answers.
I intend to summarize below in another post, our discussions & my own findings/readings, for the benefit of others, who are looking for answers to similar questions, in this forum.

User avatar
crashfly
Posts: 789
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:39 pm
Location: Arkansas, USA

Post by crashfly » Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:31 am

If you want a "complete" reference to these answers, you might want to try here:
winnt.sif Reference
$OEM$ Distribution Folders

The above links also have more information for XP setups if you need it.
A mind is like a parachute, it only functions when it is open.
--Anonymous

How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

User avatar
Bhishmar
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:42 pm

Post by Bhishmar » Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:39 pm

Thanks crashfly for ur suggestions.
I have seen those links before, which is basically a copy of ref.chm in deploy.cab, except for the fact that both differ on suggestion on where to place $OEM$ folders.

But my 6 questions in post #1, where directed to answer some unresolved aspects after reading those documents.

I think galileo has answered most, in his two responses, based on his experience & an educated guess, i think. The remaining issues are only the folliowing 2 items:-

a. Questions on on inline comments.
b. Why the position for $OEM$ is different for CD-based & HD-based (winnt32) installs? Possibly due to bug by M$!!

regds

Post Reply