November 30, 2012
I really enjoy deployment in the enterprise environment and also making the perfect Install disk for my home computers. I don't like wasting time with installation. I want to start it up and walk away.
With all MS Service Packs and hotfixes, Microsoft has made it possible to slipstream them into installation disks which is a great thing. It really cuts down on the time having to babysit the computer to do updates (if you don't have WSUS). Well, as time goes on and more patches being released, it is really time consuming keeping up with all of them and also time consuming running each one in slipstream mode.
Along came Ntlite and RyanVM. Nlite is the most awesome Installation Customization tool. I have used quite a bit of them but this one is probably the best. It will let you do pretty much anything. And the other godsend is RyanVM who is a guy that has been keeping up with all of the patches that are post SP2.
Winnaddons is probably the most amazing set of programs that you can integrate into your installation disk. These add-ons allow you to have programs automatically installed for you during the installation of windows. It will take some time to go through the list but I guarantee that you will find programs that you will want to install right away and programs that you will want to integrate into your installation of Windows.
Nlite has a General Usage Guide up. It is old but it will get you started.
RyansVM's Forums has some interesting stuff.
And the best link ever for windows users, admins, and techies: http://www.msfn.org/ Peruse the forums and you will get more then you will ever have time for.
Some things that I have learned:
Make sure that you have a copy of Windows XP with SP2 that is in your license notebook. You can create your own slipstreamed copy of Windows XP with SP2, but I have run into issues doing it that way. Some things don't get upgraded when you slipstream SP2 into the Windows Gold disk. It is better to start with the 'real' version of Windows XP with SP2.
Test these in Virtual PC 2007 before using of course.
You will not be able to use these disks when you create your Images for Windows Deployment Services. I haven't found out why, but it just doesn't work. So until SP3 comes out your WDS solutions will suffer unless you have the patience to download all the critical hotfixes and slipstream them yourself or unless you have an awesome script to do it for you. I have neither, but we use WSUS and it gets the job done pretty quickly without any intervention
Stay as organized as possible. It is easy to get jumbled up with all the files that you will be using.
Stay simple at first and then get more daring. It is easy to do all that work and testing only to have the machine blue screen on you.