Deploying Native Boot VHDs [4]

The first time startup with the sysprepped VHD went reasonably well until an error message was displayed:


After that the system was stuck in an endless loop of displaying messages which basically said “Windows could not complete the installation. To install Windows on this computer, restart the installation”. Then the system would restart and, you guessed it, the same message was displayed again.

Now our first thought might be that that isn’t where we originally put our unattend.xml file and that is probably true, however it does get copied here. So we need to get the log files that are created by the installation which will tell us what problems have caused this error. To do this I need to boot my target system into Windows PE again and examine the VHD that way. We can do this by using Diskpart to attach the VHD and assign a drive letter to it. Then I can browse it directly to find the log files, which in this case are in c:windowspantherunattendgc. It is recommended to detach the VHD before quitting, using Diskpart commands again. After I checked the log files I found a couple of issues which have resulted in corrections being made to the listed settings in Part 3 of this article series. Part 3 has been updated with these corrections. I fixed up the answer file using WSIM again.

I’ve also decided I will set up a custom folder for DISM for OOB drivers for this image because it’s pretty easy to do and will simplify the process of injection by limiting the number of drivers that are injected to those which are needed for this image. So that stage will require the drivers being copied to a custom folder in the AIK share and then the path in the answer file will be changed. With the changes to the answer file that also needs to be recopied to the VM before reprepping it.

There is one software package I have not been able to install onto the VM because it is the software for the DVD writer and it won’t install if the drive is not present. This means that final customisation of the VHD will require it being deployed to the target platform so this will be done before it gets sysprepped. This of course means a target platform has to be available at some stage of the image development process. I will have to see how I can make this work out in practice. It was something I had hoped to avoid because obviously the primary benefit of using a VM to build up images is that you don’t need access to a target platform until deployment. However in practice this should be OK, just a little inconvenient. After this convoluted process of getting the VHD onto the target and then back again, the software installation was completed. The reprep was then started. This went more or less as expected. I am currently testing and finalising settings and preparing to DISM the image.