0windows 8 logoMore WDS errors solved

WDS really is quite an unfriendly sys­tem. Clunky, fiddly, and prone ot fail­ure without help­ful error inform­a­tion. After updat­ing some of my unat­ten­ded files I was no longer able to carry out unat­ten­ded install­a­tions, but have even­tu­ally solved the series of mis­lead­ing errors

I had at least 3 dif­fer­ent errors, all of which seem to be related. I am using my WDS serv­er without a domain, but as I want to use mul­tiple images (win­dows 7 and win­dows 10) and I want them to be unat­ten­ded, I need mul­tiple unat­tend files.

There is an unat­tend file for the PXE boot stage which sets things like par­ti­tions, and where I select which image I want to install. This is linked to the WDS serv­er to make it work with the PXE boot. There have been no prob­lems with this part. This file gets named autounattend.xml after you have linked it to the server

Then each image has an unat­tend file which gets renamed to ImageUnattend.xml and gets put inside the appro­pri­ate image folder. This is where I hit problems.

Sev­er­al key things before you start which will help reduce problems.

1. Do not edit the files in the loc­a­tions the serv­er puts them. keep a copy some­where else, edit that copy, and then relink them to the serv­er through the WDS interface
2. Restart the WDS serv­er after relink­ing the unat­tend files
3. Think about the per­mis­sions on the RemoteIn­stall share — by default these may not work for non-domain sys­tems. I had to change mine

Des­pite hav­ing done all of these things I still got a couple of errors. The first was that my second unat­tend file just seemed to be com­pletely ignored! I looked in the log files and found an error Failed to process client unattend variables. Error code [0x8007000D]. I assumed this was caused by a mis­con­fig­ur­a­tion some­where, but after gen­er­at­ing a new unat­tend file with Win­dows Answer File Gen­er­at­or (an online ser­vice) I then got a new error that setup could­n’t con­tin­ue due to a prob­lem with the answer file. So des­pite the error logs indic­at­ing that my unat­tend file could­n’t be accessed at all, it in fact could be accessed, so the fault must have been with the con­tents of the file.

So I now had 2 files, neither worked, but both had dif­fer­ent errors!

I went back to my ori­gin­al file and remove some of the con­tent and tried again. It worked! A copy of that file is at the bot­tom of this post.

I now had to fig­ure out what the prob­lem was with my ori­gin­al 2 files…

The easi­est of the 2 was the file gen­er­ated by the online ser­vice. This included a product key, but the product key must be a tri­al key for a retail or oem ver­sion of win­dows 7, and the ver­sion I have uses a MAK key. Make sure you change the product key if you use an answer file from the online generator

The issue with my ori­gin­al file were some com­ments that had been put in it. I don’t know how or when they got there but once removed it worked as expec­ted so make sure you don’t have any com­ments in your file.

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