Title: Windows Setup Body: Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [C:windowsPantherunattend.xml] for pass [specialize]. The answer file is invalid.

MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 3: Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [C:\windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [specialize].  The answer file is invalid.

Living Table of Contents

 

What These Guides Are:
A guide to help give you some insight into the troubleshooting process in general.

What These Guides Are Not:
A guide to fix all issues you’re going to encounter.

We’re going to role-play a bunch of scenarios and try to work through them.  Remember in math where you had to show your work?  Well, what follows is like that which is why this post is [more than] a [little] lengthy.

Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [C:\windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [specialize].  The answer file is invalid.

Your last victory is short lived as the same error message appears and this time unattend.xml looks fine:

Troubleshoot-010.PNG

Stumped, you might search for ‘Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup’ which might lead you here:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/customize/desktop/unattend/microsoft-windows-shell-setup

As you review each section carefully the issue becomes clear: The computer name is more than 15 characters.

Copypasta Closing

Hopefully these examples will help give you an idea of the overall troubleshooting process.  Most of the time the problems you’ll encounter will be caused by a typso, order of operations or a ‘known issue’ that requires a specific process to be followed.

As you make changes to your environment, here’s what I recommend:

  • Be diligent about keeping a change log so you can easily backtrack
  • Backup your CS.INI or Bootstrap.ini before you make any changes
  • Backup your ts.xml or unattend.xml (in DeploymentShare\Control\TaskSequenceID) before you make any changes
  • Introduce small changes at time with set checkpoints in between and set milestones markers where you backup core files (e.g cs.ini bootstrap.ini ts.xml unattend.xml etc) to help minimize frustration troubleshooting.

And if when you do run into some turbulence, upload relevant logs (at least smsts.log but be prepared to submit others depending on the issue) to a file sharing service like OneDrive, post on TechNet then give a shout to your resources on Twitter.

Good Providence to you!

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