If you need to install SQL Server 2008 Express from the command line one of the options is to provide a file path to a ConfigurationFile.ini file that specifies all the necessary configuration for the instance you want to install. One of the really nice features provided with the installation package is that you can configure the instance how you want using the GUI and then it will supply you with the corresponding ConfigurationFile.ini file that would be used to setup the instance you just configured in the Ready to Install dialog (see below).
The problem is that with the release of the SQL Server 2008 R2 Express version, the developers reduced the number of dialogs displayed during the installation for the Express version and as a result, the Ready to Install dialog is not displayed anymore! Further the ConfigurationFile.ini is never actually created!
Luckily after combing through the How to: Install SQL Server 2008 R2 from the Command Prompt I found that if you set the UIMODE command line switch to ‘Normal’ the whole set of dialogs will be displayed during installation and consequently the ConfigurationFile.ini will be created. Just start the setup process from the command line with the following:
Note: Make sure you include the /ACTION=Install flag or this will not work.
For those interested, here is the excerpt for the UIMODE switch from the SQL Server 2008 R2 Installation documentation:
Specifies whether to present only the minimum number of dialog boxes during setup.
/UIMode can only be used with the /ACTION=INSTALL and UPGRADE parameters.
- /UIMODE=Normal is the default for non-Express editions and presents all setup dialog boxes for the selected features.
- /UIMODE=AutoAdvance is the default for Express editions and skips nonessential dialog boxes.