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Applying a service
pack after every reinstallation of Windows XP is a schlep and a waste of time,
especially in a business environment. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a
copy of XP with the latest service pack already integrated into it–a process
known as slipstreaming.

But that’s not
nearly the end of the story. What about adding all the subsequent
hotfixes/updates Microsoft has released since Service Pack 2 for Windows XP was
released eons ago (August 2004, to be exact)? There have been more than 120
since then. Downloading and installing every one of them is no fun; doing it
every time for every new Windows installation is plain crazy.

Even so, you can’t
really take a chance on ignoring the updates. Venturing onto the Internet
without the protection of the latest updates and patches is downright
dangerous. Tests have shown that Windows vulnerabilities can be exploited
within minutes after exposing such a system on the Net.

So wouldn’t it be
great if you could integrate all (or at least most) of those Microsoft updates
right into a copy of XP, together with the latest service pack? Well, you can–and
it’s a relatively simple process. And once you’ve done it the first time,
subsequent procedures (to make new CDs with the latest updates) is a walk in
the park.

To top it all, you
can even add some useful utilities to your customized version of Windows and
make the disk bootable.

I’m going to walk
you through the whole process of first slipstreaming your copy of XP with SP2,
integrating most of the updates/hotfixes since the release of SP2 into your new
installation pack, and then burning the image to a bootable CD.

Slipstreaming with SP2

Let’s first
slipstream XP with SP2:

  1. If
    you don’t already have it, get the full (“network installation”)
    version of the service pack. You can download it here.
    For the purposes of this article, we’ll save it to the folder XP_SP2 on the C:
    drive.
  2. Copy the contents of your Windows XP CD
    to your hard drive. We’ll name this folder (also on the C: drive) WinXP.
  3. Open a command prompt and go to the
    folder containing SP2 (XP_SP2 in our example).
  4. Type the command: servicepackfilename /integrate:drive:\XPfolder.
    In my example, the command is:
    WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU /integrate:C:\WinXP
    See Figure A and Figure B.

Figure A

The command to integrate the service pack

Figure B

The integration process

If the process has
been successful, a message to this effect will be displayed (Figure C).

Figure C

Success!


Note

When you try slipstreaming using OEM disks from some big
companies, you might run into the following error:

“This Service
Pack cannot be integrated into a destination that also has integrated Software
Updates.”

Not to worry, there
are ways and means. A program called nLite
will do the trick (although it needs the .NET framework).


Integrating post-SP2 updates

Now we’re ready to
integrate most of the post-SP2 updates, thanks to a guy called Ryan VanderMeulen. As Ryan says on his Web site, his update pack
and Integrator software are “designed to bring a Windows XP CD with SP2
integrated fully up to date with all of the latest hotfixes released by
Microsoft since SP2’s release. It accomplishes this task via direct
integration, where files on the CD are directly overwritten by the updated
files”. He also says: “All necessary registry entries needed by Windows Update,
QFECheck, and Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer
are imported during Windows setup, meaning that the integration is transparent
to Windows. Security Catalogs necessary for Windows File Protection to
recognize the updated files as digitally signed are installed, once again
ensuring maximum transparency to Windows. Since the updated files are being directly
overwritten on the CD, this pack has the minimum possible amount of overhead
associated with integrating hotfixes in comparison to other methods–both in
space used on the CD and in Windows installation time.”

Sound good? It sure
is!

A word of warning
before you begin: Ryan strongly recommends that you start with a fresh XP
installation source with no previous update packs integrated into it.

With that out of
the way, let’s get down to business.

  1. Download the latest version of RVM
    Integrator and Update Pack (also the optional add-on packs if you want to–see
    note) here.
    On this page, you’ll see the list of the included updates.

Note

Ryan has several
add-ons available. One includes some useful programs and utilities; another
integrates Windows Genuine Advantage Validation (KB892130) into the XP install
CD.


  1. Start RVM Integrator. At the top of the
    screen you’ll see the message Browse
    to the location which contains the i386 directory
    . In our example,
    that’s C:\WinXP (Figure D). Note
    that this is the root folder that contains the i386 folder (do NOT select
    the i386 directory!).

Figure D

Providing the path to the i386 folder in RVM Integrator

  1. The detected version of Windows will be
    displayed. You can also select a destination directory if you want to
    create the new installation source in a different folder. Otherwise, leave
    the field blank.
  2. Select Choose An Update Pack CAB to browse
    to the location of the update pack. My update pack was called
    rvmupdatepack2.1.1.7z. In your case, the version might be different.
  3. If you downloaded any add-on packs, add
    them next.
  4. The final step is the integration.
    Click Integrate, and the process will start (Figure E). Go get yourself another cup of coffee.

Figure E

RVM Integrator doing its job

Creating a bootable CD

To make our
bootable CD, we’ll use Bart’s approach. Bart Lagerweij,
as you probably know, is the doyen of boot disks. I’ll provide an overview of
the steps, but if you want to read Bart’s full instructions on how to create a bootable
Windows XP CD, go here.

Other methods are
available. If you already have a preferred way, by all means go ahead and use
that. You can, for example, use IsoBuster and Nero
Burning ROM 6 (you’ll need at least version 5.5.9.0) or you can use nLite (but you’ll need .NET framework installed).

I prefer Bart’s
way. Apart for a couple of small extras you need to download the first time,
you won’t need things like the full version of Nero and .NET like other
methods. Besides, I just love to watch Bart’s command-line magic.

Here are the
essential steps:

  1. Download
    Bart’s BCD software (523 KB).
  2. Unzip
    BCD to a folder. We’ll unzip it to c:\bcd for this example.
  3. Download
    the file wnaspi32.dll from here
    and copy it into BCD’s \bin folder (in our example, to c:\bcd\bin).
  4. Download
    this Windows XP file (5 KB). Unzip it into BCD’s root
    folder (c:\bdc in our example). Make sure the subfolders are also unpacked.
  5. Copy
    the i386 folder (in our example, from C:\WinXP) into one of the following
    folders, depending on whether it’s Windows XP Home or Professional:

    c:\bcd\cds\wxphome\files\ (Windows XP
    Home Edition)
    c:\bcd\cds\wxppro\files\ (Windows XP
    Professional)

  6. Copy
    the win51ic.SPx or win51ip.SPx file here as well (See Figure F). Optionally, you can also copy the following files (not
    needed for bootable CD installation):
autorun.inf

readme.htm
setup.exe

Figure F

Copy the files to the relevant locations in the bcd
folder


Note

If you have a
Windows XP CD from MSDN, edit the file i386\txtsetup.sif:

section [SetupData]

and change the setup source path to:

SetupSourcePath = "\"

Now you’re ready to
roll. Open a command prompt, go to the c:\bcd folder, and type in and run one
of the following commands (depending on whether it’s XP Home or XP Pro):

bcd wxphome (For Windows XP Home edition)

or:

bcd wxppro (For Windows XP Professional)

This will start
creating the bootable ISO image and burn it to a CD for you. Armed with this
CD, reinstalling XP or installing it on new machines will be a breeze.