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I’m sure someone else has run into this problem: while using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (formerly known as Business Deployment Desktop) to deploy Windows XP, everything seems to be working just fine until Windows PE finishes it’s portion of the setup wherein it copies the Windows XP setup files to your hard drive; then when the XP text-mode setup begins, it fails to recognize the drive. This most commonly occurs on systems with SATA drives or a RAID configuration. The solution is to load the text-mode drivers for the device as you would during an individual install of the operating system. You might be thrown off by the fact that the text-mode setup started by the Deployment Toolkit never prompts for additional drivers. How do you get around this? Integrate the drivers directly into your operating system source using a tool called nLite.

Integrating Text-Mode Drivers Using nLite

The steps outlined below explain how to use nLite to integrate your text-mode drivers into an operating system which has already been added to a Deployment Toolkit Distribution Share.

  1. Download nLite
    Download the nLite utility from nLite is a utility that allows you to create custom Windows XP installations by injecting drivers, service packs, and other updates directly into a Windows installation. Install nLite onto the system that hosts your Microsoft Deployment Toolkit distribution share.
  2. Locate the operating system source within your distribution share.
    By default your distribution share is located at C:\Distribution and is shared on \\\Distribution$. Within the distribution share you will see a directory called Operating Systems which will contain a folder for each OS you have added via Microsoft Deployment Tools. For the purposes of this article we are interested in the path to your Windows XP installation source. On my system the absolute path to Windows XP is C:\Distribution\Operating Systems\Windows XP Service Pack 2.
  3. Run nLite and select your Windows XP installation source.
    Run nLite via the icon it placed on your desktop or start menu. You will be prompted for the location of the Windows XP installation source. Select the directory we just located within your Distribution Share and click next. Click next to ignore the Presets menu (you can play with this screen later if you want to).
  4. Add Drivers via the Task Selection Dialog.
    Under the Task Selection screen, click the Drivers button, then click next. The drivers screen should now appear. Click insert, and select either Single Driver if you only have one driver to add, or Multiple Drivers if you have more than one driver stored in a single location that you would like to integrate. A Browsing dialog will appear: select the file or files you would like to integrate and click OK. If you chose to integrate multiple drivers, you may be asked to confirm the selection at this time. Just click OK.
  5. Add Drivers to TextMode.
    A list of drivers in the location that you selected will be displayed. Select the drivers you would like to integrate, and click the Text Mode radio button at the top of the window to specify that you would like these drivers loaded in text mode, rather than after Windows is finished copying files and begins installation. Click OK, then click Next. When prompted, click Yes to apply your changes to the Windows installation source.
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