Slipstreaming A Service Pack ~ Ask The Admin

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Slipstreaming A Service Pack

Have you ever needed a specific version of an OS for an install?

You need a Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 2 CD and you only have SP1?

Have you ever wanted to upgrade your original Windows XP CD to SP2? Or how about SP3??

That is where slipstreaming comes into play. Slipstreaming a service pack saves time, disk space and makes future installs easier.

When you slipstream a service pack into an OS the finished install already has the service pack included so you don't need to install it as a separate step. (Edit:This a HUGE time saver and normally brings me flashbacks of installing XP SP2 on the first 10 machines manually. Not fun guys!)

All you need to do is install the 87 #%^@* updates and patches Microsoft has released since the service pack. :)

You will need a few things to create a slipstreamed OS disc:

1 - The original bootable OS CD.
2 - The full version of the service pack you want to slipstream. Microsoft refers to this as the "network install" version. It is used by admins to install the service pack on multiple machines. It is much larger than the other SP versions you might come across and cannot be obtained from Windows Update. You can find the network install version of Windows XP SP2 here. Windows 2003 Server SP2 is available here.
3 - A copy of nLite.
4 - Software to burn the slipstreamed ISO image to disc (like Roxio).

I won't go into all the step-by-step details here because there is already a great set of instructions on the MSFN site.

When you are done, you will have an OS installation disc that functions exactly like your original OS disc, but contains all the updates included in the service pack.

You can also use nLite to add additional patches and updates as well as additional drivers. There is a guide on the nLite site that goes into more detail about how to do this.

Slipstreaming a Windows service pack works the same way for both server and desktop operating systems.

That is, until Vista...

Yes, that is right. Among the many other changes Vista brings, you cannot slipstream SP1 into your original Vista RTM DVD.

Microsoft's official stance is that you should install Vista, install SP1 either through Windows Update or a network install and then use the WAIK to capture the image that includes SP1. This is presumably going to be the same for Server 2008 since it has the same code base as Vista.

The same group that created the nLite tool has created vLite which will allow for slipstreaming Vista SP1, but it is still in beta and has some caveats. There are some other tools out there to create Vista SP1 slipstream discs, but my guess (and this is purely my opinion) is that Microsoft will not support any installation that is created this way. If you run into problems with a slipstreamed Vista install, I expect they will say reinstall from RTM media, apply the SP from Windows Update and if you're still having the problem then we'll talk.