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SysPrep Guide: SysPrep.inf Instructions - [4/8] +

The sysprep.inf file is the heart of SysPrep. This file contains the instructions that SysPrep will use during the mini-setup process. The sysprep.inf file is broken up into several sections following the layout of an INI file. You can read about the layout of INI files in my INI guide. However, this file is called sysprep.inf and not sysprep.ini. Please be very certain that you have it named properly or it will not work.

The sysprep.inf file is not really required but if it isn't included then the user will be prompted for answers to questions on the execution of the mini-setup on the first boot following running SysPrep. In most situations this is not desired especially since the default configuration will not duplicate well across computers. In other words you can't automate SysPrep unless you provide a valid sysprep.inf.

The documentation included with SysPrep is fairly complete on the entries for the sysprep.inf file. Please refer to that document on all of the related settings. However, I will clarify a few sections and situations.

The sysprep.inf file contains several INI sections. Their names are somewhat confusing because they are evolutionary section names that have been borrowed from the unattend.txt file that is used for unattended Windows installations. Instead, focus on the names of the section items and read through all of them carefully as they are what provide the options.

Typically I try to make the SysPrep mini-setup as automated as possible, but there are situations where there isn't desirable. For example, I have my mini-setup automatically generate a computer name during the mini-setup. This done by by using ComputerName=* in the [UserData] section and it generates a name consisting of the first 8 characters of the organization name, followed by a hyphen, and then followed by 6 randomly generate letters and numbers. But, you may want to prompt the user for the workstation name so if you leave this field blank then the user will be asked for a computer name.

Also, I have created several samples sysprep.inf files so that you can see the general layout. The first sample you shoud look at is a generic sample. And then another is an example with prepopulated mass storage information. Yet another is an example with driver paths supplied, but you will want to read the drivers section of this guide for more information on how to interpret this example. You would of course want to populate those files with your own information.

There is some good news about the sysprep.inf and it's that you don't have to edit the entire thing yourself. Microsoft wrote a program called the Microsoft Setup Manager Wizard (setupmgr.exe). The purpose of this program is to create sysprep.inf answer files from a GUI. It doesn't have all of the options that you will most likely need, but it does give you a way to create a skeleton answer file that you can then edit and fill the rest of the information into. I highly suggest that you use the Setup Manager Wizard first and play around with it and then check the sysprep.inf file to see how changing different options alters the sysprep.inf file. And then once you have you have a template answer file then you modify it to your needs.


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