Answer file - wait for input if no disk 0?


Jalopy

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Maybe this isn't the right subforum for this question, point me in the right direction if not.

Is there a way to make an autounattend file actually stop (without crashing) when there's no disk 0 to install on? Checking the 'On Error' flag still makes it throw an error and kill the entire installation process. I have to have two different unattend files for installion 10 and 11 (4 total) based on this. Yes, I know injecting drivers is a thing, but where I work I'm not really at that point yet, plus we have so much sprawl on laptops that it's usually not something I find out until I'm actively installing.

Can I replace the step in the answer file with a script that formats and partitions the drives, waits for user input if no disk exists to install on, then goes back to automating all of OOBE afterwards? Is that even possible? And again, yes, I know about MDT - I'm near the process of going down that road soon enough. But in the short term, this would be a nice thing to have fixed.


My .xml file for pre-OOBE.
 
Windows Build/Version
11 v22621

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
Welcome to the forum. I can't answer your question but @hsehestedt might can. In the meantime review his "tricks" here to see if any address your question.
 

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    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3593
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Welcome to the forum. I can't answer your question but @hsehestedt might can. In the meantime review his "tricks" here to see if any address your question.
Yes and no. It highlights that you can absolutely use a scripted methodology to setup the partitions for the boot drive, which I was fairly confident of already. But I'm still unsure if that implies you can set the entire thing wrapped in an if conditional for "if disk 0 cannot be found, end script and wait for user input (implicitly assumed based on no answer file steps for partitioning)". If that can be the case - that's exactly what I need.

I suppose maybe I can see what happens if I run his answer file on a VM with no VHD and see if it crashes, or it just does nothing when it hits the partitioning step.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
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    Benq 27
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    2560x1440
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    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
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    500w
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    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
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    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
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    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
Setup has no allowance to restart Unattended installation after a disk provisioning error.

The root cause for your headache is the default Windows ISO is missing HW support for your PC's specific SATA or NVME controllers. Therefore no disks are reported found in WinPE. Without driver support, no scripting can find a missing disk.

Follow these steps to build an ISO which works on multiple PC models:

1. Collect all the different SATA or NVME boot drivers (sometimes referred to as "F6" drivers).
2. Extract the driver files to local folders, following the vendor's README or docs.
3. Mount boot.wim, using DISM /Add-Driver to add each driver's INF file, or an entire driver folder in turn.
4. Repeat /Add-Driver for all the different boot drivers your image has to support.
5. Commit the image, with DISM /Unmount /Commit
6. Repeat the previous 5 steps with the install.wim
7. Return to using your previous Unattended disk layout.

 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
Setup has no allowance to restart Unattended installation after a disk provisioning error.

The root cause for your headache is the default Windows ISO is missing HW support for your PC's specific SATA or NVME controllers. Therefore no disks are reported found in WinPE. Without driver support, no scripting can find a missing disk.

Follow these steps to build an ISO which works on multiple PC models:

1. Collect all the different SATA or NVME boot drivers (sometimes referred to as "F6" drivers).
2. Extract the driver files to local folders, following the vendor's README or docs.
3. Mount boot.wim, using DISM /Add-Driver to add each driver's INF file, or an entire driver folder in turn.
4. Repeat /Add-Driver for all the different boot drivers your image has to support.
5. Commit the image, with DISM /Unmount /Commit
6. Repeat the previous 5 steps with the install.wim
7. Return to using your previous Unattended disk layout.

I'm after of the lack of drivers, yeah. Is there any downside so to speak of adding superfluous drivers to an installation? Or since the driver isn't applicable to anything on the system, it just won't ever be used, and is simply benign and, at worst, bloat?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
Disk controller drivers tend to be compact, so bloating from those drivers doesn't add much space. It tends to be a major issue for graphics and audio drivers, which bundle bulky libraries with them. After post-insrallation, you can run "pnpuntil -d" to purge any unused drivers.

There's always a tradeoff. To keep a minimalist install image, you would have to maintain several parallel ISO's -- one for each family of PC models. Or bite the bullet and keep a larger generic image, but only have to update it once in a while. The decision usually comes down to how many similar PC models you can group together into one shareable image.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
After post-insrallation, you can run "pnpuntil -d" to purge any unused drivers.
Huh, now this I didn't know. Very interesting. Guess I can add this to my post-install script and just throw the boot drivers into the image, then. Right now I have maybe 3-4 from what I've encountered and it's just 22MB.

E: Running it in a sandbox to test, there are no drivers in a sandbox I guess. Does -d just automatically remove any unused drivers? /enum-drivers doesn't have a flag for if its used or not, so I can't iterate over them based on that.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
The cheesy but common hack is to either:
1. Brute-force cycle through a range of [0...N] filenames, using "pnputil -d oem[N].inf"
2. pnputil -e (to enumerate), and try deleting every reported oem.INF.

Because pnputil won't allow you to delete a loaded (and in-use) driver, it's the lazy person's way to clean up unused drivers. You can't test this behavior in a sandbox, just bring up a low-end VM instance.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
The cheesy but common hack is to either:
1. Brute-force cycle through a range of [0...N] filenames, using "pnputil -d oem[N].inf"
2. pnputil -e (to enumerate), and try deleting every reported oem.INF.

Because pnputil won't allow you to delete a loaded (and in-use) driver, it's the lazy person's way to clean up unused drivers. You can't test this behavior in a sandbox, just bring up a low-end VM instance.
I take it if this method is used, that there is no middle ground of 'used but not currently in use so Windows would allow me to delete it', where you'd risk deleting something important? A driver is either installed and directly attached to some sort of hardware process and cannot be removed regardless of it being actively used at that very moment (IE, like how a printer driver won't let you remove it until you remove the printer first), or is installed and attached to nothing whatsoever?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
HW drivers are loaded at boot time, based on detected HW ID's. Once loaded, driver files are locked by active processes. Anything that's inactive (unloaded) doesn't share the protections and pnputil can remove them. It's not pretty, but everyone's done this for years.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
HW drivers are loaded at boot time, based on detected HW ID's. Once loaded, driver files are locked by active processes. Anything that's inactive (unloaded) doesn't share the protections and pnputil can remove them. It's not pretty, but everyone's done this for years.
While it's probably overthinking from just inexperience, I like to ask questions as is. Are there any weird fringe cases I should be aware of doing this that I might remove something I don't want to remove? Obviously not like I'm going to hot-swap the CPU and brick a laptop, but any other 'hardware' that could technically be ephemeral between boots? I'd only be running this script post-provision immediately after install, so I assume no.

E: I suppose I could just keep a record of which boot drivers I'd be plugging into the .wim and then make a pnputil -e script that foreachs them and attempts to remove them, which would make me feel a lot safer than just going whole hog on the returned array.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
Is there a way to make an autounattend file actually stop (without crashing) when there's no disk 0 to install on?
Sorry for being so slow to respond. I've been offline a few days.

Let me ask if this would be an acceptable solution for you:

It is possible to create an answer file that performs a fully unattended installation of Windows EXCEPT that it pauses at the screen in the installation where you would normally select the disk to which Windows should be installed. By doing this, you can visually see if Windows is detecting your drive(s) or not. You can also manually load any drivers if needed at this time. Once you then load any drivers needed and select the location to which Windows should be installed, the installation will proceed fully unattended.

Another advantage to this configuration is that the very same answer file can be used for Legacy BIOS systems using MBR and for UEFI based systems using GPT. Another advantage is that using this method creates the Recovery Tools partition AFTER the Windows partition as Microsoft recommends. Normally, an installation using unattended setup is forced to create the Recovery Tools partition BEFORE the Windows partition. For this reason alone, I actually prefer this method over a 100% unattended installation.

If this is of interest to you, please let me know and I'll provide details.

If I'm misunderstanding the situation at all, please let me know!
 

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    Win11 Pro 23H2
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    Intel i7-11700K
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    Lenovo ThinkBook 13x Gen 2
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    Intel i7-1255U
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    16 GB
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