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How to Create and Edit Exchange Server 2003 Unattend Files

 

Topic Last Modified: 2007-12-20

Published: March 02, 2005

By Alex MacLeod

In this article, I'll describe how you can use Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe to generate an unattend file for the unattended upgrade of Exchange 2000 Server to Exchange Server 2003, the unattended reinstall of Exchange Server 2003, and the unattended disaster recovery setup of Exchange Server 2003. I'll also tell you how to edit Exchange Server 2003 unattend files for use in subsequent Exchange Server 2003 setup operations.

The steps that I describe here apply only to Exchange Server 2003 and its service packs. This article extends the discussion of unattended setup operations that you can read about in the white paper Unattended Installations of Exchange 2000 Server. For Exchange 2000 Server, the supported modes of setup are unchanged (see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 312363, How to use the Exchange 2000 and Exchange 2003 Installation Wizard to generate a Setup.ini file for an unattended installation).

CautionCaution:
Exchange Server 2003 unattend mode is not supported in all cases. Use unattend files with caution. Review the Exchange Server 2003 Deployment Guide before you attempt unattended operations.

Here is an overview of the steps that you'll take to generate an unattend file:

  • Create the initial unattend file.
  • Anticipate the installed components.
  • Edit component configurations.

Before you create and edit an unattend file, make sure that you have the following:

  • A server on which Exchange 2000 Server or Exchange Server 2003 has already been installed.
  • Sufficient permissions to run Exchange Server 2003 setup.
  • Access to the Exchange Server 2003 installation CD.

Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe creates an unattend file when it is run in create-unattend mode. In this mode, setup.exe displays its normal user interface and records the selections of the user. Then, instead of executing the setup operation, setup.exe creates an unattend file in the path specified by the user. To create an unattend file for an upgrade of an Exchange 2000 Server to Exchange Server 2003, an administrator with sufficient permissions to complete the upgrade must launch the Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe application in create-unattend mode on the computer running Exchange 2000 Server. To create an Exchange Server 2003 reinstall or disaster recovery unattend file, an administrator must launch setup.exe in create-unattend mode on an existing computer running Exchange Server 2003.

Use the following procedure to create a reinstall unattend file on a server running Exchange Server 2003.

  1. Click Start, click Run, and in the Run dialog box, type E:\Setup\i386\setup.exe /createunattend c:\setup.ini, and then click OK.
    noteNote:
    If you want to create an unattend file for an Exchange Server 2003 disaster recovery setup, you must also use the /disasterrecovery command-line switch for this operation. The command is E:\setup\i386\setup.exe /disasterrecovery /createunattend c:\setup.ini.
  2. On the Welcome page, click Next.
  3. On the Component Selection page, under Action, select Reinstall.
    noteNote:
    If you are running Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe on a server running Exchange 2000 Server, the action "Upgrade" is automatically selected. If you are creating an unattend file for an Exchange Server 2003 disaster recovery setup, the action "DisasterRecovery" appears on the root Microsoft Exchange component. Additionally, select the DisasterRecovery action for the components that are installed on the server, if they are not already automatically selected.
  4. On the Component Summary page, review your selections and then click Next.

Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe creates an unattend file named setup.ini in C:\ (you may specify whatever filename and path you want). This unattend file contains information specific to the computer on which it was created, so it is immediately only usable on the same computer on which it was created. However, with some careful editing, you can make the unattend file perform the same setup operation on any similarly configured server.

Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe usually detects and auto-selects the installed components on a server. However, in unattend mode you don't have that luxury. If you want to use an unattend file on a particular server, you have to make sure that the components selected for action in the unattend file match the components installed on the server. You have to anticipate what those components are, and tailor the unattend file prior to using it.

An Exchange Server 2003 unattend file is loosely organized in three main sections:

  • Component install order lists
  • Component configuration blocks
  • Global properties section

The component install order lists can be found at the head of the unattend file. There are three component install lists, with the following section headers:

  • [PreInstallOrder]
  • [InstallOrder]
  • [PostInstallOrder]

These install order lists identify the Exchange Server 2003 components upon which the setup action will be performed. The complete list of Exchange Server 2003 components includes:

  • gfn_mid microsoft search
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange forest preparation
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange domain preparation
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange server component
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange connector for lotus notes
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange connector for novell groupwise
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange calendar connector
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange system management tools
  • gfn_mid microsoft exchange 5.5 administrator

In the earlier example, where Exchange Server 2003 setup.exe was used to create a reinstall unattend file, the component install order lists for a "Typical" server install contain the following components:

  • [PreInstallOrder]
    gfn_mid microsoft search
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange server component
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange system management tools
  • [InstallOrder]
    gfn_mid microsoft search
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange server component
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange system management tools
  • [PostInstallOrder]
    gfn_mid microsoft search
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange server component
    gfn_mid microsoft exchange system management tools
noteNote:
The components gfn_mid microsoft search and gfn_mid microsoft exchange should always appear in the component install order lists.

The install order lists must correspond to the components installed on the server where the unattend file will be run. Only the components listed in the install order lists will be acted upon by setup.exe when the unattend file is used. If you intend to use an unattend file on a server other than the server where it was created, you may need to edit the install order lists if the Exchange Server 2003 components installed on the server differ from those listed in the unattend file.

The second main section of the Exchange Server 2003 unattend file is the component configuration blocks. All Exchange Server 2003 components are listed in the configuration blocks section, each with a header followed by a uniform block of information. The exception is the gfn_mid microsoft search component, which has an abbreviated block of information associated with it.

These blocks of information contain the particular settings, if any, that are associated with each component for the specified setup action. Some of these settings are computer specific, and you may need to edit them if the configuration of your Exchange servers differs from computer to computer. Make any necessary changes to your unattend file before you use it on a computer other than the computer where it was created.

The following table provides the list of computer-specific settings that must reflect the local configuration of the server on which the unattend file will be used.

Computer-specific settings of the local server on which the unattend file runs

Component heading Value Note

[gfn_mid microsoft search]

InstallDirectory=C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MSSearch

C:\Program Files\Common Files corresponds to the environmental variable %CommonProgramFiles% of the computer where the unattend file will be used.

[gfn_mid microsoft exchange]

InstallDirectory=C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr

C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr represents the installation directory of Exchange Server on the computer where the unattend file will be used.

[gfn_mid microsoft exchange\gfn_mid microsoft exchange server component]

gfn_pid microsoft exchange admin group={0EF92510-DB5E-45F3-8F02-815CE7B79A06}=

importantImportant:
During the creation of a disaster-recovery mode unattend file, the administrative group values (gfn_pid Microsoft exchange admin group and {0EF92510-DB5E-45F3-8F02-815CE7B79A06}) may sometimes be initialized to reflect the administrative group membership of the server on which the unattend file was created. These values do not need to be initialized in the unattend file. You may safely remove the values; however, if you choose to leave the values initialized, they must reflect the administrative group membership of the server on which the file will be used.

The last main section of the unattend file is the global properties section, which has the header [Global Properties]. This section also contains several settings, as shown in the following table, which you must edit so that they correspond to the configuration of the local computer.

Settings in the global properties section of the unattend file

Component heading Value Note

[Global Properties]

gfn_pid core suite directory=C:\Program Files\ Microsoft Integration

C:\Program Files portion of this path corresponds to the environmental variable %ProgramFiles% of the computer where the unattend file will be used.

[Global Properties]

gfn_pid core system drive=C:

C: corresponds to the environmental variable %SystemDrive% of the computer where the unattend file will be used.

[Global Properties]

gfn_pid core program files=C:\Program Files\

C:\Program Files portion of this path corresponds to the environmental variable %ProgramFiles% of the computer where the unattend file will be used.

To use an Exchange Server 2003 unattend file, start setup.exe with the unattendfile command-line switch:

  • Click Start, click Run, and in the Run dialog box, type E:\Setup\i386\setup.exe /unattendfile c:\setup.ini, and then click OK.
noteNote:
If you want to use an unattend file for an Exchange Server 2003 disaster recovery setup, you must also use the /disasterrecovery command-line switch for this operation. The command is E:\setup\i386\setup.exe /disasterrecovery /unattendfile c:\setup.ini.

Exchange Server 2003 setup will launch in unattended mode. You should see the Progress page of Exchange setup, though you will not be prompted for any input. Setup will complete silently whether it succeeds or fails. If the Progress page never appears, or only appears briefly, setup.exe has likely failed.

To quickly determine whether setup.exe was successful, use the Application Event Log (in Event Viewer) and the Exchange Server Setup Progress.log file (found in the root of your system drive). In the Application Event Log, MSExchangeSetup logs a Setup Started event (EventID = 1000). If setup is successful, the Setup Started event will eventually be followed by a Setup Completed Successfully event (EventID = 1001). If neither of these two events exist for the unattended setup you just attempted, setup was not successful.

To determine why setup did not succeed, refer to the Exchange Server Setup Progress.log found in the root of your system drive.

To learn more about the unattended mode of setup in Exchange Server, see the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

 
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