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Windows 7: Help Please - Installation Death lock

26 Apr 2010   #1

Windows XP Pro
 
 
Help Please - Installation Death lock

Hi all,

So, I am responsible for creating the image for Windows 7 in my company. And it all went, I must say, painlessly smooth until the default user profile.

A little bit of background before I get to the issue:

0) Our base image is built using MDT 2010 to compress everything into one ISO file, then burn it to DVD. I have been successful in downloading a legal Windows 7 Enterprise Image, downloading all our needed apps, and even putting together an unattend.xml file through WAIK which does most of what we ask for right off the bat. The only thing it really didn't do too well on: default user profiles. And that's where this story begins.

1) Installed the LiteTouch image of Windows 7 + standard applications to the PC we're using (brand new Lenovo ThinkPads with 6 GB RAM and 300+ GB HD). Success

2) Handed the laptop to a colleague, who installed his department-specific applications (please, don't ask why we haven't used MDT yet for those department-specific apps, that's not my call). Success

3) Set up a local customized user profile, for the purpose of copying it to the Default User Profile. Success

4) Copied my unattend.xml file to C:\Windows\system32\sysprep and verified that the file had the CopyProfile attribute set to True. Success.

5) Ran the sysprep command as per microsoft's site. It looked like:

sysprep.exe /generalize /shutdown /unattend:unattend.xml

Success appeared to be, as the command did its thing then shut down the computer.

6) Booted up computer to verify that the default user profile was successful. I got an error that the Unattend.xml file could not be found. Press OK to reboot. I did so.

Now, I'm stuck in a loop that goes as follows:

1) Boot machine
2) Come to Windows 7's "Setup is preparing your computer to for first use"
3) Receive error that states the following:

Title: Install Windows
Text: The computer restarted unexpectedly or encountered an unexpected error. Windows Installation cannot proceed. To install Windows, click OK to restart the computer, and then restart the installation.

There is no current backup of this laptop pre-sysprep. Fail on me, I know.

Is there any way I can at least break the loop of "Boot > Fail > Reboot and Repeat" that doesn't involve starting from zero? I have the media and have tried to use some of the tools on it for repair, but the can't start up tool can't find anything.

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #2

Windows 7 Enterprise
 
 

Hi Brian,
Im the imaging guy at my company too.
First of all, its best to make backup images of each milestone
Secondly, out of curiosity, did you do anything else to make the CopyProfile=True to work? Theres been a lot of rants about it not working, and just wondering how you got sorted? I've maybe got an alternative solution, but I havnt fully tested it in my 'inherited' images.

Thirdly, before sysprepping make an image of you machine! Once sysprep fails, its basically back to square one, as you would know...

I'd suggest you try using an absolute path to point to the unattend file.

In my case, i use the switch /unattend:"c:\temp\unattend.xml" and it always works without a hitch.
I havnt tried putting it in the sysprep folder, because my c:\ has a bunch of other files pulled from a network share.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #3

Windows XP Pro
 
 

I saw some views here, just thought I'd drop an update as to what's going down, and an important fact that was not mentioned in Microsoft's Sysprep'ing directions for Default User Profile Creation, found here

It appears that, when the autopsy was done and the body was cut open, the CopyProfile command failed for my default user profile, and that my Unattend.xml file was actually, for the most part, properly constructed. I did use a local account for the user profile, but it looks like we had to also disjoin the machine from the domain to accomplish this successfully.

I'm now in the "attempt to recover/create a new one in parallel" mode. If anyone knows of a good utility that can extract program settings from .gho files, I'd be happy to hear about it. Otherwise I'm going to take a couple shots in the dark and keep you all updated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


27 Apr 2010   #4

Windows XP Pro
 
 

Hi xarden, thanks for the reply.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by xarden View Post
Hi Brian,
Im the imaging guy at my company too.
First of all, its best to make backup images of each milestone
Secondly, out of curiosity, did you do anything else to make the CopyProfile=True to work? Theres been a lot of rants about it not working, and just wondering how you got sorted? I've maybe got an alternative solution, but I havnt fully tested it in my 'inherited' images.

Thirdly, before sysprepping make an image of you machine! Once sysprep fails, its basically back to square one, as you would know...

I'd suggest you try using an absolute path to point to the unattend file.

In my case, i use the switch /unattend:"c:\temp\unattend.xml" and it always works without a hitch.
I havnt tried putting it in the sysprep folder, because my c:\ has a bunch of other files pulled from a network share.
1 & 3) Lesson learned the hard way. It certainly will not happen again.
2) As above, it appears it did not work. I did read Roasted's thread on the Default User Profiles not working, but I didn't see any specific issues as yet. When I rebuild myself (luckily a different image was on tap to be built as well, so this is not yet redundant work)
4) It doesn't seem that the problem had to do with the path of the unattend based on the log findings. I do agree that absolute paths are a good idea, however, in the future.

I'd be interested to hear about how your alternate solution worked.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #5

Windows 7 Enterprise
 
 

Hi Brian,

Quote:
If anyone knows of a good utility that can extract program settings from .gho files, I'd be happy to hear about it.
Ghost Explorer, explorers the .gho images just as windows explorer works. It doesnt let you add files, however, unless I'm mistaken.

CopyProfile:
I use a little program called windows enabler, made by a Stephen Hewitt.
I'l put it up on my site at http://www.xarden.net/winenable/ for about an hour or so.
Theres two files, an .exe and .dll
All it does is ungrey's greyed dialog boxes, so you can copy profiles the XP way.

I've found that you dont need a second admin account to be able to copy the customised account, but I havnt had that tested thoroughly enough to say its good to go live.

Also, there is 'c:\users\default' and 'c:\users\default user'. I dont know which one to copy to, so I've copied the profile to both. Make sure the permissions are set to everyone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #6

Windows XP Pro
 
 

Got the files.

It's time for me to turn in so I won't get to it until tomorrow, but I am definitely interested in Windows Enabler if it lets us copy information that Windows 7 stonewalls the admin over.

Thank you very much.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #7

Windows 7 Enterprise
 
 

No problem,
Let me know how it works out for you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Apr 2010   #8

Windows XP Pro
 
 

UPDATE: I got the machine back.

The information I'm about to drop is based on personal observations on the unattend file as well as the sysprep process, so your mileage may vary.

Apparently, when you take a generalized sysprep with a specific unattend file, the program runs up to and including the generalize pass, then shuts down/reboots the machine as per the switches used for the command.

We noticed that the generalize section had an attribute of "wasPassProcessed" set to yes, while the specialize section had no such attribute.

Because our error was in the specialize pass, it had not been processed yet. And since we had taken an image of the machine after sysprep shut down the machine but before the first reboot, we were able to edit the unattend file, restore the image, boot into a PE environment with a flash drive attached, replace the unattend file in both %Windir%\Panther and %Windir%\system32\sysprep (which is where I had originally placed the unattend file), and boot into Windows to let it set up on the correct unattend file.

I hope I NEVER have to use this information again. But hopefully someone else can benefit from this information.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Help Please - Installation Death lock





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