I have been happily deploying Windows 7 images using WDS for a few months now and everything has been working smoothly.
I have prestaged the computernames in AD because one of our clients wants different computers in different rooms to be easily identifiable by computername.
He has now asked for an XP image as some of the video production software will not run on Windows 7 or Vista (Wouldn't like to use Vista anyway) I have created an image and been testing automated deployment of it. I have created a sysprep.inf file and currently it joins to the domain fine, picks up all the correct settings etc. The only thing it doesn't do it get the computername right, it seems to create one at random based on the User the PC is registered to.

I have pasted my sysprep.inf file below.



    ProductKey=*Product Key*







In setupmgr.exe I set the ComputerName as %MACHINENAME% - it seems to show up here as *. When I have changed it to %MACHINENAME% in the inf file its-self it still fails to get the right name and errors wit "The computername entered is not properly formatted..."

Also once I am confident that my sysprep file is properly working what is the best way of deploying this XP image using my existing WDS Server (Server 2008R2 SP1, WDS 6.1.7600.16385) I can easily capture the image but WDS expects xml files not the inf files used by XP. I have read this blog and followed the following instructions:

The next part of our completely unattended setup is an XP sysprep.inf file. Again you can store this on the WDS server – navigate to your RemoteInstall share again and under the Images folder you’ll see your WDS Image Groups. As my image is called "winxpsp2.wim", I’ll create a folder called winxpsp2. In this folder, I’ll create the $OEM$ directory structure, within which I’ll put a folder called $1, within which I’ll make a folder called sysprep, which is where the sysprep.inf file will go. Phew! For reference, in my enviroment, this means that we’re looking at D:\RemoteInstall\Images\Windows XP\winxpsp2\$OEM$\$1\sysprep\sysprep.inf.

However when I have done this it doesn't seem to pick up the sysprep file stored in this location. Does anyone have a way of getting this to work.


Okay lets start with the sysprep.inf file.

This is just a flat text file that doesn't interpret variables. The * is used to denote a random chosen computer name. The variables %MACHINENAME% and Others are replaced with the actual text string by WDS when it copies over the unattend file. So for any of this to work you have to be deploying it with WDS.

The instructions above do work. Make sure that you have created the folder (in the above example winxpsp2) structure to match the wim image you captured. Also make sure the credentials you specify in the unattend.xml have permissions to the folder structure.

  • SO only if I copy the sysprep file onto the WDS Server and deploy it from there will it pick up the AD Prestaged name? The one in the c:\sysprep folder will not pick it up? If that turns out to be true its going to a big old facepalm moment. – Joe Taylor Feb 29 '12 at 16:17
  • You got it! If you want to work around that and use a local sysprep.inf you can get clever with some vbscript in the autorun and rename and join it yourself. – Nate Feb 29 '12 at 16:25
  • I think I may cry a little. WIll test that out tomorrow morning and all being well you'll have a tick and the bounty, thanks very much for your help. – Joe Taylor Feb 29 '12 at 18:27
  • Unfortunately deploying the image from the WDS Server still results in a randomly generated Machine Name. Windows 7 images deployed to the same station pick up the prestaged name but not XP. On the plus side it is picking up the sysprep.inf file on the server and overwriting the one on the local machine. – Joe Taylor Mar 1 '12 at 12:05
  • You need to remove that * from the sysprep.inf, it needs to be %MACHINENAME% – Nate Mar 1 '12 at 13:59

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