Thursday, October 02, 2008

How to Create a Modified, Updated Windows XP Installation Disk - A Quick Guide to Some Resources

Producing a shinny new updated Windows XP disk is easy if you have (or at least know about) the right tools. Assuming you have a XP service pack 2 installation cd (or iso), you can do any of the following if you like:
  • slipstream sp3 into it
  • incorporate hotfikes
  • incorporate, say, SATA drivers - if you want to be able to install in on many (if not most) new computers.
  • incorporate programs like: Firefox, VLC, WP11, IE7, etc.
If you want to integrate Windows Media Player 11, do this before following the instructions below. If you want to integrate drivers from DriverPacks, again, do this before using nLite.

First, make sure you have Net Framework 2.0 installed, and then get a copy of nLite and install it. Then copy the entire content of your WinXP CD in some local folder (e.g., C:\XP). Note: nLite will do copy it for you if you point it to the CD.

If you want to slipstream sp3 into the disk, download it from here.

Get all the programs you want to include in your new XP disc. You can find a ton of them at winAddons. If the program you are interested in is not here, then you can make your own using these instructions (the newest version of this program can be found here).

Although I haven't tested this, you can use this program to download hotfixes.

Download any drivers you want to slipstream (a more generic approach will be discussed below using the drivers at DriverPacks).

Alright, now you should have everything. (Again, if you want to slipstream WMP11, do this before using nLite).
Start nLite, and follow the directions. Some good tutorials on using nLite can be found here and here. I would recommend looking at all the options and getting a good sense of the program. Some more advanced resources about what you can, should, and should not do can be found here, here, and here. Also, don't forget about the MSFN forums (invaluable).

Below I'll discuss two not so obvious things you may be interested in doing when modifying the XP disk: including a large number of SATA drivers (so XP can support newer hardware) and include new files or portable applications on your new XP disk.


A common reason for slipstreaming XP is to include drivers that support SATA drives. If you try to install XP on your machine, but get the following error message, then this is your problem:

If you want to use nLite to slipstream the necessary drivers, you need to first download them (what they are depends on your hardware), extract them, browse to them in nLite, and select one or more .inf files to integrate.

Suppose you want to install XP on multiple computers with different harddrives? You could obviously download all the requisite drivers and follow the above instructions, but a more general approach would be to to download the SATA drivers from DriverPacks. In particular, you need DriverPacks BASE and DriverPack MassStorage. The BASE package includes a nice intuitive gui to guide you through the process.


Portable applications are great. You can carry them around with you on a USB stick, or in the present case, you can include them on a XP installation disk if you know how. The most professionally wrapped portable apps are found here. I wanted to have the most functionality on my installation disk, so I wanted to include the Suite Standard. To do this, or to include any other files you want on your installation disk, you need to understand the $OEM$ options. An important guide for understanding this is here.

The short tutorial is that you create the $OEM$ folder parallel to the i386 folder. I wanted the Suite to be put in the "Programing Files" folder, so inside the $OEM$ folder, I created the $Progs folder and copied the extracted version of the Suite to this directory. You can use this method to copy any files or folders to the installation disk.

A more advanced tutorial can be found here.

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