For all of you SBS old timers, one of the new features with SBS 2008 is the Answer File. By using the answer file, not only can you streamline and automate the initial setup of SBS 2008, which speeds up the setup process, but it also allows you to ensure that you setup every customer consistently, and generate a supporting document.
Is it rocket science? No way! But it sure is a great tool to use. For example, by disabling the unattended mode, you can use the answer tool as a way to train a junior employee on the SBS 2008 process. Also, if you wish to use something other than the default .local internal domain suffix, you are required to use the answer file.
So, how do access and use the Answer File generator with SBS 2008? All you need is the first SBS 2008 DVD and a USB key. The Answer File generator (SBSAfg.exe) is found under the Tools\ directory on the DVD, Fill out your answers, and click Save As. The anser file is saved as SBSanswerFile.xml. Copy the XML file to a USB drive (be sure to put it at the root level, and not in a sub folder on the USB drive).
Insert your SBS 2008 DVD and the USB key in the computer to be installed, and boot up from the DVD. Proceed through the initial screens where you make sure you have an initial disk partition prepared. The installation process will automatically look for your answer file and if found, will use the information on it.
What if you have problems or errors in your answer file? No problem! The SBS 2008 nstallation process will stop at any screens where information is either missing or inaccurate, and allow you to fix the problem ommediately. If the error cannot be resolved, you can also select to create and store an error file back to your USB key to review at a later time.
The time saved by using the answer file can be significant. So,be sure to give it a try!