Monthly Archives: August 2015

Windows fails to see Autounattend.xml from ISO

I’m working on setting up a bunch of servers, so I used the Windows System Image Manager to create an image with answers to all the questions of a basic install.

I used VMWare to boot the ISO image I was creating to test.

Placing the autounattended.xml on the root of the DVD ISO gets the image in VMWare fully setup.

Try it out on the actual server and nothing works. I am prompted just like a normal install. It is not reading the autounattended.xml file at all.

Turns out the autounattended.xml file will only work if the BIOS considers the device removable, like a USB thumb drive or something. The BIOS I am using is mounting the ISO as a fixed disk so the Windows installer will not use the autounatteended.xml that lives in the root of the ISO.

Good news, there is a solution to this problem of the Autounattended.xml not being picked up by the installer. The process inegrates the Autounattended.xml into the boot.wim file so it is always picked up.

You need the following items beforehand:

  • WAIK
  • The USB or ISO disk you plan to make your install disk

Then do these steps:

Mount the boot.wim image located on your USB HDD disk (in this example H: is the USB disk) using ImageX from WAIK

imagex /mountrw H:\Sources\boot.wim 2 C:\temp

(assumes you have a folder “C:\Temp”)

(the number 2 stands for Index 2 within the boot.wim image)

Fire up your Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Temp. You will see your boot.wim image mounted and all. Drop your “autounattend.xml” file you created directly into this folder (right next the the Setup.exe file)

Close Windows Explorer and unmount the image:

imagex /unmount /commit c:\temp

Benchmark Amazon

Amazon AWS LogoAmazon gave me $100 gift card for AWS services a couple months back. As much as I love the concept of cloud the numbers have never worked out for me. My gift card is going to expire soon, so lets burn up some credits by bench-marking some of their AWS EC2 instances.

I’m most interested in CPU and disk performance of various instances since servers do not need high end graphics. All tests were performed on Windows 2012 R2 Standard Edition (64 bit) using PerformanceTest 8.0 software.

The Amazon pricing per hour is for the N. Virginia area, which I believe is cheapest zone they offer.

Instance Type:

c4.large – 8 ECU – 2 vCPU – 3.75gb RAM – $0.193 per Hour

CPU Mark: 2,708
Disk Mark: 787 (EBS Storage)

c4.2xlarge – 31 ECU – 8 vCPU – 15gb RAM – $0.773 per Hour

CPU Mark: 9,485
Disk Mark: 1,017 (EBS Storage)

c4.4xlarge – 30 ECU – 16 vCPU – 30gb RAM – $1.546 per Hour

CPU Mark: 15,680
Disk Mark: 998 (EBS Storage)

c3.xlarge – 14 ECU – 4 vCPU – 7.5gb RAM – 0.376 per Hour

CPU Mark: oops… have to redo this one
Disk Mark: 910 (2 x 40 SSD)

Non Amazon Systems:

Supermicro – XEON L5420x2 – 16gb RAM

CPU Mark: 4,445
Disk Mark: 1,385 (Samsung 840 EVO 120gb)

Crunching The Numbers

Xeon L5420I want to compare prices of running in the cloud to the Dual Xeon L5420 processors, which are available for very cheap on eBay. Perfectly good used servers, slap some new SSD into them stick them in a datacenter and run them until they die.

The closest match offered by Amazon is the c4.2xlarge class machine, which has a CPU mark of 9,485 vs the dual Xeon’s score of 6,734.

The cost to run in the Amazon cloud would cost you $556.56 per month. That is just the machine, it does not include extras such as a load balancer, VPN or bandwidth.

The cost to run a 1/4 rack (10 machines) would be $5,556.60 per month. If you need and entire rack it would cost you $23,375.50 per month.

You can get your cost down quite a bit if you are willing to commit to a long term agreement of 1, 2 or 3 years with Amazon. Once you commit to a specific instance you can’t change, so calculate your usage requirements before committing.