Windows® System Image Manager (Windows SIM) uses Windows image (.wim) files and catalog (.clg) files to display the available components and packages that can be added to an unattended answer file (Unattend.xml). Windows images and catalog files contain configurable settings that you can modify once the component or package is added to an answer file.
Windows Image (.wim) Files
A .wim file contains one or more compressed Windows images. Each Windows image in a .wim file contains a list of all of the components, settings, and packages available with that Windows image.
Limitations of .wim Files
The following list describes some of the limitations of using .wim files.
- Windows image files can be opened only by an
account with administrator privileges.
- Windows image files can be opened only by one
user at a time.
- Because Windows image files can contain one
or more Windows images, they tend to be large. Some Windows image
files can be several gigabytes (GB) in size.
- The settings in a Windows image can change
over time. Windows SIM enables you to create an answer file in
which the settings are modified, added, or removed. Windows image
files also change when packages are added, configured, or removed.
By running Setup and then applying the answer file, the new
settings and configurations are applied. If you recapture the
installed Windows image by using the ImageX tool, the new settings
and configurations are now the defaults. When a Windows image
changes, you must create a new catalog file.
Because of these limitations, Windows SIM uses catalog files when creating an answer file.
A catalog file is a binary file that lists the state of all the settings and packages in a Windows image. When a catalog file is created, it queries the Windows image for a list of all the settings in that image. Because the contents of a Windows image can change over time, it is important that you re-create the catalog file whenever you update a Windows image.
Because Windows images can be opened only by administrators, you must have administrator privileges on the system to create a catalog file.
The Windows retail DVD includes pre-generated catalog files for each Windows image inside the Install.wim file. These catalog files are in the \Sources directory of the retail DVD and can be used to create an answer file for a Windows image in the default Install.wim file. However, if you intend to create a catalog file for a custom Windows image, you should use Image Manager to re-create the catalog file for that custom Windows image.
Contents of a Catalog File
The catalog file contains the following information:
- A list of component settings and current
- Windows features and package states.
Benefits of Catalog Files
Catalog (.clg) files have several advantages over .wim files.
- The size of a .clg file can be less than 1
megabyte (MB), while .wim files can be several GBs in size. Also,
.clg files are easier to copy to removable media or a network
- While .clg files enable multiple users to
create answer files for a single .clg file at the same time, a .wim
file enables only one person to open and to access the .wim file at
any given time.
- Non-administrators can create answer files
for a .clg file. However, .wim files can be opened only by
Troubleshooting Catalog Creation
In some scenarios, you might not be able to create a catalog for a Windows image. The following list describes some of the common causes and workarounds.
- Catalog creation fails when the .wim file is
in a read-only location, such as on a DVD. The workaround for this
issue is to copy the .wim file to a location that has read and
write permission for the current user.
- Attempting to create a catalog file for a
Windows Vista® RTM image fails. This is not a supported
scenario with this version of Windows SIM.
- Windows SIM fails to create a catalog
for a 32-bit Windows image from a 64-bit version of
Windows SIM. To workaround this issue, use the 32-bit version
of Windows SIM to create catalogs for your Windows images.