A Simple Guide to Slipstreaming Windows XP Service Pack 2

Slipstreaming a Service Pack, is the process to integrate the Service Pack into the installation so that with every new installation the Operating System and Service Pack are installed at the same time.Slipstreaming is usually done on network shares on corporate systems. But with the advent of CD burners, it does actually make some sense for the home user or small business user to do the same. Microsoft added the ability to Slipstream a Service Pack to Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It not only has the advantage that when you (re)install your Operating System, you don’t have to apply the Service Pack later, also if you update any Windows component later, you’ll be sure that you get the correct installation files if Windows needs any.

In the past when you slipstreamed a Service Pack you had to use command line switches and then fiddle with boot sectors and ISO settings in Nero or you favourite burning software and it was fairly easy to make a mistake and then have to start all over again.

However, on one of my many trawls of the net I stumbled across are utility that has taken a lot of the guesswork out of this process as well as adding options to allow you to customise the installation process further. The program is called nLite and it was originally written to allow a person to customise their Windows XP installation by allowing them to add and remove components through a GUI. It has the required tools to do just an automated Service Pack slipstream as well as create a CD image. It should also work for both Windows 2000 & 2003 as well, though I haven’t actually tested this yet.

The program can be found here http://nuhi.msfn.org/nlite.html. You will also need to install the .Net Framework if you don’t have this installed already. The only other things that you need are:

  1. A Windows XP CD. This has to be a proper CD and not a system disk as supplied by a lot of PC manufacturers these days.
  2. The latest “Network Install” Service Pack for the above
  3. Suitable CD Burning software capable of burning .ISO files (Nero, Alcohol, Easy CD Creator, etc.)

Slipstreaming the disk.

The first thing to do before you run nLite is to create a folder for the temporary storage of files during the Slipstreaming process. I normally call this XP-CD and remember locate this somewhere you can find it later. The best place if you have it available is on a separate drive i.e. D:\XP-CD but anywhere is okay as long as you have enough space available there. You should also create a folder called something like XP-SP2 in the same location and move the downloaded service

When you start nLite the first thing is to tell it where to find your Windows CD, and then instruct where to copy the files to on your Hard Disk. This should be the folder you created earlier (you did remember where you put it?).

Once that is done click on Next. We can choose a Service Pack to slipstream with the Windows Setup files we copied to the Hard Disk a moment ago. Again you need to locate the Service Pack but once that is done the process is very painless. When you have click on Open, the slipstream process will begin. You will see “extracting” and “updating files” windows appear during this time. The process will take a few minutes depending on the specification or the computer that you are using.

At this point, you can choose to click on Next and remove unwanted components from your Windows CD to speed up installation and various other advantages. This is beyond the scope of this tutorial (see the nLite homepage for more information on this). For personal preference, you may want to change your CD label. I normally use the same as the original XP CD. If you wish to do this you will need to change the underlined section in the following line which is located next to the Make ISO button:

-volid ” WinLite” -allow-multidot -relaxed-filenames -allow-leading-dots -N -l -d -D -joliet-long -duplicates-once -no-emul-boot -b boot.bin -hide boot.bin -hide boot.catalog

Do not change anything else in this line as the ISO image that we are going to create in the next step will not work.

Click on Make ISO to finish the job and create your ISO file. You will need to choose a location to save the ISO file to, so choose a location with plenty of free space available.

You should now have a single ISO file sitting on your Hard Disk; it’s an image dump of a CD which you can burn to CD using a capable burning application that supports ISO files. For Nero, you would go to File > Burn Image > select your ISO file, and start burning. It’s really that simple but please remember that you need to use software that supports the burning of ISO images. You cannot just copy the image file to a CD and you cannot use XP’s own burning software for this either as it does not support ISO files. The very last thing to do is to label your disk so you know what it is and that my friend’s is that.

About the Author:
I’m Richard Shortland and I am the Network Administrator at Castle Community School, Deal, Kent, United Kingdom. Besides using Windows I’m interested in using Linux and can be found on USAlug.

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