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Create a bootable Windows Server 2003 CD

Parts 1 and 2 in this series covered directory structure and the special files and scripts you need for a silent install of Windows Server 2003. Next: Make the CD bootable.

Part 3 of a 3-part series. Part 1: Install Windows Server 2003 silently Part 2: Files hold key for 'silent' Windows...

Server install

I explained in parts 1 and 2 how to create the directory structure for a silent installation of Windows Server 2003 and gave examples for the special files and scripts you need to create. In this final part of the series, I explain in six easy steps how to make the CD bootable.

Producing a bootable CD is a relatively straightforward process. You need a program to pull the boot image file from your regular Windows Server 2003 CD and a CD drive capable of writing to CDs. And, of course, you need an installed program to create the CD.

I used ISO Buster 1.7 to pull the boot image file from the CD. ISO Buster is a part freeware and part shareware data recovery tool. You can use the freeware capabilities to do what we need to do here, but you will probably want to go make a donation or register it once you see all that it can do. I used Roxio Easy CD Creator to create the CD in this example, but you can adapt these instructions to any CD-burning program.

Follow these six steps to make the CD bootable:

  1. Download and install ISO Buster. Insert the regular Server 2003 CD into your CD drive and load ISO Buster.


  2. Expand the CD drive in ISO Buster until you see a floppy disk icon with the Bootable CD label. Click on the bootable CD in the left pane, and in the right pane of ISO Buster you will see a file called Microsoft Corporation.img, which is the boot image file for the CD. Right click on the .img file and select Extract BootImage.img. Remember the location where you save this file; then close ISO Buster.


  3. Open your CD-burning program. Using Roxio Easy CD Creator, click File/New CD Project/Bootable CD. A screen will pop up: Choose Type of Bootable CD. There are a few settings you need to know about on this screen. The Bootable CD Type: No Emulation; Load segment: 0x7c0; and the sector count should be set at 4. On the bottom of this screen, browse to where you stored that boot image file, import it and click OK.


  4. You should see two .bin files in the CD project files window. Use the drop-down menu at the top left to select the folder where you stored the file structure -- created from the first article in this series -- and add all of those files into the CD project.


  5. Customize the CD Project Properties. Click on File/CD Project Properties. The most important action on this screen is setting the File System type to Joliet. If you leave it at ISO9660, you will have to rename a lot of files, and the CD probably won't work right in the end. Add whatever File System information you want on the second tab and then continue to the File Types tab. On this tab make sure the Add All Files radio button is selected and the remaining boxes are not checked. Click OK at the bottom.


  6. Now you are ready to create the CD. Insert the blank CD and select Record. In a few minutes it will be completed, and you'll have your very own customized Windows Server 2003 installation CD!

The top 10 tips of 2005

  Tip #1: How to change the Windows XP Product Activation Key Code
  Tip #2: Create a bootable USB flash drive -- in a flash!
  Tip #3: Create a bootable Windows Server 2003 CD
  Tip #4: 8 common causes for 'delayed write failed' errors
  Tip #5: Ultimate boot CD packs in recovery, repair utilities
  Tip #6: Install Windows Server 2003 silently
 Tip #7: Uninstall 'stubborn' programs
  Tip #8: What to do when your hard drive fails
  Tip #9: Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 volume shadow copy service
 Tip #10: 'Unlocker' reveals processes that lock files


Jeff Gilbert is a Systems Management Server and software administrator with the Army at Fort Benning, Ga. He holds the Windows 2000 MCSE, MSCA and Network+ certifications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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