OK, first things first, what we need to do is take your XP disc and copy the entire contents of it to your hard drive. Make a folder first, say in your "C:" drive and call it something like XPCD then copy the entire contents of the CD into that folder. Once you've done that you should now see some files and folders such as "cmpnents", "DOCS", I386" and so on. Open up the folder "I386" and inside that folder create a simple text file called "WINNT.txt". Open the file up and copy and paste the following into it ...
[Data] AutoPartition=1 UnattendedInstall="Yes" AutomaticUpdates=yes MsDosInitiated=No [Unattended] UnattendMode=DefaultHide OemSkipEula=Yes TargetPath=\WINDOWS Repartition=Yes UnattendSwitch="yes" WaitForReboot="No" KeyboardLayout="United Kingdom" Hibernation=No OemPreinstall=Yes DriverSigningPolicy=Ignore NonDriverSigningPolicy=Ignore [GuiUnattended] AdminPassword=* EncryptedAdminPassword=NO OEMSkipRegional=1 OEMSkipWelcome=1 TimeZone=85 [TapiLocation] CountryCode=44 Dialing=Tone AreaCode=0000 [UserData] ProductKey=XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX FullName="Authorised User" OrgName="N/A" ComputerName=MYPC [RegionalSettings] LanguageGroup=1 SystemLocale=00000809 UserLocale=00000809 InputLocale=0809:00000809 [Networking] InstallDefaultComponents=No [Identification] JoinWorkgroup = XPBUILD [Components] hypertrm=off iis_asp=off iis_internetdataconnector=off iis_serversideincludes=off iis_webadmin=off iis_webdav=off licenseserver=off msmsgs=off msnexplr=off oeaccess=off templates=off zonegames=off
Now remember, because I'm from the UK I use the options for the UK such as my regional settings although you would obviously wish to use the settings appropriate to your own country. MSFN have a great section all about unattended windows installations and you can find more about the options for the above file HERE.
The above file will automatically format your computers hard drive so please use it with caution!. If you want to be prompted at the setup stage for which partition to use or format change the "AutoPartition=1" to "AutoPartition=0".
The load of XXXX in the file represent your own windows xp licence key which should be affixed to the computer itself or somewhere in the pack you received when you bought your PC.
The above file will also create an admin user with no password and so will automatically log you on after it's finished. The "Components" section can be used to tell the setup that you want certain services or components switched off by default. The reason you would do this is to avoid unecessary services running on startup and slowing down the PC, although again this is purely up to your own individual taste's and further examples can be found on the MSFN link above. If you don't want any of the components removed simply delete the entire "Components" section and everything under it's heading.
So, now you've created your WINNT.txt file it's time to save it. Once you've saved it we now actually need to rename it to "WINNT.sif". The icon itself should change when you do this, although if it doesn't you may need to turn on "extensions" to see the ".txt" bit of the file. To do this, with your I386 folder still open, navigate up to the explorer toolbar and hit "Tools" then "Folder Options". Then, hit the "View" tab and look for where it says "Hide extensions for known file types" and make sure this is UNTICKED. Press OK all the way back out and now look at your "WINNT.txt" file. Rename it if it didn't go to plan the last time and make sure it reads "WINNT.sif" and nothing else after it. So now you have your "WINNT.sif" file and it should be in the "I386" folder, right?
OK, time to get all those files back onto a disc. The easiest way to do this is to simply start up your burning software and drag all the files inside your "XPCD" folder into your burner. Burn the disc and try it out. If all went well you should have an XP disc that installs itself, although this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unattended setups such as this. You can go even further and have programs automatically install themselves after the initial xp setup is done as well as integrate driverpacks which will install drivers for most hardware although alas I fear it is beyond the scope of this article so I will leave that for another article but remember to check out MSFN's pages as you will find all that and more there.
Part 2 - Integrating drivers to your XP disc