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Editing SmartDeploy.xml on the Fly

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aaron.lines@gmail.com

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The SmartDeploy Media Wizard enables you to quickly build boot media that includes a custom answer file. When you create boot media with an answer file it is stored at the root of your SmartPE media (CD or USB) as SmartDeploy.xml. This answer file has several important items that you may want to modify on the fly including:

  1. .WIM file being deployed
  2. Platform Pack (.ppk) being selected

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) compatible image files are a good companion for a custom answer file because of the number of questions involved in the setup process. One method I have found that works well is using a free virtual CD daemon to modify the SmartDeploy.xml file on my SmartPE ISO images. You can have separate SmartPE media for each image path or platform pack variation. However, most would probably agree that it is more desirable to have different answer files (SmartDeploy.xml) and quickly swap them out as needed.

Download your virtual CD daemon of choice. I like PowerISO. The unregistered version will allow you to create or edit image files less than 300MB which works effectively for WinPE ~204MB. This program allows me to quickly mount my SmartPE media and view the SmartDeploy.xml file.

poweriso.png

If you want to edit the answer file. Simply copy the file to your desktop. Edit the parameters to match the path to the platform pack and image file you need. Then copy the file back to the screen replacing the original file. You will have your new SmartPE ISO file with an updated SmartDeploy.xml as soon as you click save.

Another useful idea is to use your mounted ISO to create a new deployment USB drive. Optionally, you can use the Media Wizard to perform this task. First, open SmartDeploy Enterprise Command Prompt. Then run the following commands:

diskpart

select disk 1

clean

create partition primary

select partition 1

active

format quick fs=fat32

assign

exit

xcopy V:\SmartPEiso\*.* /e f:\

Note: where F:\ is the drive of your USB drive and V:\ is your virtual CD daemon drive.

Remember, you can edit the SmartDeploy.xml file on your USB boot media that you have created quickly without needing to mount an ISO image. You may want to keep copies of various answer files that reference different paths to image files or platform packs on your network or WDS folders. If you name them logically (XP_answers, Win7_answers.xml) you will be able to swap out answer files on the fly in either the ISO or USB SmartPE media you are using.

Enjoy IT,

Aaron Lines

IT Consultant


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I've tried several different USB Flash drives in my Dell OptiPlex 980MT. However, the process described above fails when I type "select disk 1". It turns out there is no disk 1 - only a disk 0 which is the hard drive. Also, the media wizard fails to create a bootable usb flash drive. Any ideas on how to fix this? I'm using WinXP SP3.

Wally

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After doing some tests, a USB Flash drive won't show up under Windows XP. It only shows up on Vista and Windows 7.

Wally

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Hi Wally,

Were you able to get your USB key up and running with Media Wizard or the process detailed here? In the past we have seen some problems with Media Wizard making a USB key bootable. Usually this is due to U3 software being installed on the USB key. If your USB stick has U3 technology, you will need to first uninstall it. http://u3.sandisk.com/launchpadremoval.htm. If your USB key is still not bootable you can perform a format of the disk then re-run Media Wizard.

Open an elevated command window and run the following commands: (As you mentioned earlier this will only work on Windows Vista and higher. If you do not have access to a Vista or higher OS you can run the commands from the SmartPE by hitting Shift + F10 to open a command prompt.)

  1. Diskpart
  2. List Disk (determine which disk is your USB stick, probably disk 1 if you only have 1 hard drive)
  3. Select Disk 1 (use the correct disk number here)
  4. Detail Disk (ensure you have your USB drive selected)
  5. Clean (this destroys all data)
  6. Create partition primary
  7. Active
  8. Format fs=ntfs quick
  9. Assign letter e: (any drive letter that works is fine)
  10. Exit
  11. Re-run Media Wizard to create the bootable USB key

Thanks,

Erik

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