WinXP Pro SP2 using Sysprep

I'm guessing this question will beyond almost everyone's understanding here but I'll ask away anyhow.
If you don't know or if you're guessing, don't bother posting please.

I'm looking to use a sysprep answer file with Windows XP Pro SP2. I don't want a fully unattended installation. I would like to be prompted for the Windows Key and Regional Settings.
Is there an option I can add to the Sysprep.inf to make this happen? I'm almost certain there is but in the short time I've been looking I haven't found exactly what I'm searching for. I figure by the time I'm done writing this I'll have figured it out, but maybe not.

My oh so great company doesn't use VLK with Microsoft so I have individual Windows Keys for each PC I work with and they're located across North America. Ideally I would like to have two images because of the different HALs and sotware requirements. I want to be able to image a computer and only input the Windows Key and Regional Setting. Minimal configuration for the rest of the software.

If anyhow *knows* what to modify in the sysprep.inf or unattended.txt, I would appreciate your input.

Thanks to any who are able to help me out.

11 answers Last reply
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  1. Run sysprep on the system but do not give it an answer file, it should then prompt you for all of the info including cdkey, regional, etc. If you want it to do some things auto but other things manual just leave those things out of the answer file.
    I assume you are needing to join a domain and everything too? I'll see if I can dig up one of my old syspreps so you have some sort of templet to work off. It has been a while since I needed it :)

    <A HREF="" target="_new">My precious...</A>
  2. Thanks.. no problem. I figured it out right after I made the post. When running through the sysprep configuration I can change that setting. I had done it before but that was around 2 years ago. The company I was working for used the VLK license for Windows while the company I now work for uses individual licensing per PC which is horrible to work with.
    I'm all set on the sysprep thing now.
    My next step is to see if I can make the same image work over multiple HALs. I hear everyone complain about this under Win2k and XP, but I think there is a registry entry that you can delete that will allow Windows to recreate the HAL when installing during Sysprep.

    Thanks again,

  3. What have you been able to accomplish with sysprep?

    When XP first came out I tried installing software one one pc then use sysprep to deploy everything to my 2nd PC. It didn't work well at all :(

    So I gave up on that and even since I just create a custom unattended install CDs. But that only works with software that has a slient install option.

    Just curious what advantages it has over a custom unattended install CD?
  4. I use sysprep in a corporate enviroment using Microsoft VLK for Office and Windows XP Pro. I set up a computer exactly how I want it to be: I install all my software, customize portions, etc.
    I then run Sysprep, let the computer shut down. I make a ghost image of the hard drive, cut off at 670MB, copy the 1-2 image files over to a PC. I at this point I use a book disk with modified Autoexec.bat and config.sys files to create a boot menu. I use this disk to create a bootable CD and I burn my images on to it.
    What this does is allows me to put in a CD, a menu comes up (Load xxx ghost image, boot normally) and the image starts loading.

    Here's the catch (as far as I'm aware at least): You have to have the same HAL on each of your PCs to really use sysprep. (Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong or if there is a way around this!) Your HAL is created during your initial setup of Windows. If you have two computers with two different processors.. PII and an AMD Athlon, the sysprep feature isn't going to help you.

    I use Sysprep to prompt me for a Computer name and join the domain. I need my computer setup with a computer name for identification and I want them to automatically join the domain when I turn them on after imaging them. I could fully automate the process if I allowed sysprep to automatically generate a computer name.


    You have 10 computers. Dell Dimension 4600, all identical. Set the computer up how you want it. Run Sysprep (resets unique identifiers basically). Take your image, apply to the other 9 computers.

    I would say sysprep is most beneficial and probably only/mainly used in a domain type environment.
    (previewed it, wanted to leave the above piece in but mention that companies like Dell, IBM, etc. use a type of Sysprep when you buy a PC from them for Home use. It prompts you for a username etc. I don't think this is sysprep but another program designed like sysprep for home use.)

    You can create the unattended install which takes a bit of time to go through. Using sysprep with Ghost, I'm able to get a computer setup for use on my domain in 10-15 minutes.

    A user's computer gets hosed with Spyware, I pull it back, image it, bring it back to him/her in 20 minutes. I would normally spend more time hacking through the computer finding every bit of spyware on the computer.

    The main thing to remember is the HAL is the major factor. You're removing select items from the Windows Installation when using Sysprep. It has the HAL of the original computer. Being that you tried to deploy your sysprep'd computer image to another computer (I assume they were not identical) you probably got some kind of blue screen saying Inaccessiable boot device or some other BSOD.

    When I run sysprep at a command line I use the -pnp switch and a few others depending. Here's a link that has a good description of the switches:

    Here's a link on Sysprep from Microsoft. If you read through it basicall cover what I did in a nutshell and answer some more questions you might have about it.
  5. As soon as windows XP was released I installed XP on my first PC then attempted to use sysprep to transfer everthing over to my 2nd PC.

    I didn't get a BSOD. I had weird registry permission problems which caused Outlook Express to discard any setting changes.

    Turned out some parts of the 2nd system registry still had the exact same permission set as the 1st system, meaning that local users didn't have permission to change them.

    I was able to manually correct this one problem, but since my interest in sysprep was purely academic and I only had two PCs I simply gave up on the idea.

    At one point I also got into creating unattended install DVDs which installed every program I could get to work, but again this was just for fun and now I just use a simple answer file.

    Weird thing is that I am able to use Norton Ghost 2003 to simply clone an installations back and forth between my PCs (KT133 & KT400 chipsets) no problem. I only have to change the computer name, CD Key and install some drivers everthing works.

    I am curious has sysprep been improved upon since the initial version shipped with XP, or was I doing something wrong when I toyed with it years ago?

    And does anyone know how many HAL's there are and how to determine what HAL a system will use?

    So far I have only been able to ghost between KT133, KT333 and KT400 chipsets. Attempts to ghost between AMD and Intel or Socket A to Socket 754 have all failed.
  6. Sysprep will change some settings when you put an image on. I don't believe sysprep has been changed since XP release. I personally haven't experienced any problems using it. I use a domain so every user gets admin rights to the computer, other rights are assigned by GPOs.

    I did some research on the HAL thing. There are two main HAL types, each vary though. The HALs determine what kind of hardware you have and then it determines how to work with what it's given.;en-us;309283

    You have Non-ACPI and ACPI HALs. Doing some looking around I've read (Haven't tested) that if you go under Device Manager - Computer - it lists what your HAL if. According to the link above, you should be able to select the right HAL DLL to a compatible one. Assuming that all your PCs are ACPI compatible it should work.

    I have the KT400 chipset on my home computer. I haven't done anything with ghosting or anything like that though. I normally do this stuff at work which turns out to be all Intel processors and whatever IBM uses in their laptops, Dell in their Desktops.

    Sysprep is known to screw with security settings though. If you change or have certain security permissions configured, sysprep will more than likely (as in your case) reset them to the default configuration.

    Regarding the Norton Ghosting. I've heard of people doing this but I've heard that over a given period of time the ghosted computer's performance starts to degrade and problems start popping. That's completely second hand though.

    AMD and Intel are different hardware architectures and as it stands now I highly doubt there is a way to make a compatible image for use across the board.

    Your ghosting across the KT133 to the KT400 is basically using the same chipset, slightly altered. I would guess that if you ghosted a KT400 off a KT133 and tested it against a straight install of a KT400, you'd see a performance difference. Now if you did the KT400 down to the KT133, who knows? That one will be up for testing.

    Determining which HAL goes with what, Windows has the say in that.

    Microsoft does not support running a HAL other than the HAL that Windows Setup would normally install on the computer. For example, running a PIC HAL on an APIC computer is not supported. Although this configuration may appear to work, Microsoft does not test this configuration and you may have performance and interrupt issues. Microsoft also does not support swapping out the files that are used by the HAL to manually change HAL types.

    I stand corrected in what I read second hand earlier.

    But Apparently you can switch ACPI HALs to see if one will work on your other computer.. it's not tested, but it may work and again, problems can come up from not being tested.

    Device Manager does not permit the change from a Non-ACPI HAL to an ACPI HAL. You must use a new install of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 for this type of change. Change from an ACPI HAL to a Non-ACPI HAL only for troubleshooting purposes.;en-us;309283

    All this great stuff I'm learning today.. I should do this more often.
  7. Quote:
    I'm guessing this question will beyond almost everyone's understanding here but I'll ask away anyhow.
    If you don't know or if you're guessing, don't bother posting please.

    You know, every time I read this, I can't help but think it's an insulting tone you're taking... definately not the kind of tone you want when asking for help. I'm not trying to start an argument here... but when asking for help, try to ask nicely instead of making a broad, sweeping statement that may insult.

    <font color=red> If you design software that is fool-proof, only a fool will want to use it. </font color=red>
  8. I feel that is an apropriate tone to get a straight answer quickly :)

    <A HREF="" target="_new">My precious...</A>
  9. I think you can get away with cross platform images (ie amd and intel machines) by using the minisetup feature on the xp sysprep. I haven't had the need to do that yet so I haven't messed with it but from what I read about it that is basically what you see on new machines you buy. When using minisetup windows basically runs through setup again while keeping your software and settings intact. That makes me think it would allow windows to change over all the drivers it needs to the new platform. If you dump in all the drivers windows would need for any of the systems on the network that would probably let you make a truely universal image.

    <A HREF="" target="_new">My precious...</A>
  10. I don't really feel your post was necessary. I simpled stated it would be considered a more advanced question that people not working in a corporate network probably wouldn't encounter or have much experience with. This is, after all, a website dedicated more to home computers and not corporate.

    I'm not saying that this forum's readers are in any way lacking, but the question was something a lot of people don't have experience with. Even those who do don't use it everyday.

    To ask someone to not post if they're guessing is probably the most beneficial thing for someone scanning the forums. People tend to post for the sake of posting. This makes it difficult for others to find the correct information they may be seeking.

    Stating the question is beyond almost everyone's understanding? When 30 people read it and probably don't understand it, they won't post, hopefully they leave the forums either looking it up for their use or they walk away not feeling inadequate because they knew from the start they might not understand or have knowledge in it.

    Now, to those who do post, the information I get tends to be of a higher quality and from experienced people - and they answered a question most probably couldn't.
    If people don't want to post because they feel insulted it's because they probably didn't have an answer for it.

    I hope no one feels insulted when I ask a question they don't understand, regardless of it's difficulty.

    I tend to keep my posts very useful and as indepth as necessary so readers of any level can follow along and use the information.

  11. I think the objection is more to the wording than the actual intent.

    You said it was likely beyond thier understaning when what you really meant that it was beyond their experience.

    To me your intent was obvious but to someone staying up late skimming through all the new posts and only reading the first couple sentences might have gotten the wrong idea.
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