This article discusses “slipstreaming” Service Pack 3 into one’s Windows XP installation, and creating a custom install CD. One must first have a working Windows XP installation somewhere, with a strong preference for a fully updated working installation.
Required tools include the excellent nLite (also requires the .NET framework 2.0), and the stand-alone full version of the Service Pack 3 update, available here.
The article describes using WinUpdatesList to get a long list of all of the installed hotfixes, etc so that they too can be bundled into the installation CD. My experience was that this program worked as expected, but the URLs associated with each hotfix were highly likely to be no longer valid. Thus, so far I have not applied any hotfixes to my install CD.
I prepared my custom install CD by adding Service Pack 3, and then removing a bunch of unnecessary stuff, including languages I don’t speak, Windows Messenger, and some other things mentioned in the original article.
The beauty was in the fully automated installation. The only intervention required of me was to specify how to partition the hard drive. No questions whatsoever about time zones, usernames, passwords, automatic update settings, and no annoying “out of body experience” demo on the first boot.
1. Figure out how to include hotfixes, IE 8 (it installed IE 6!).
2. Figure out how to bundle other applications (a Windows system is, imho, useless without Putty, WinSCP, and Firefox).
WARNING There is a fair amount of bad information out there about how to get the product key for a legitimate install CD. Anything that talks about UNATTEND.TXT is a lie. The product key in there is not actually valid.
The product key of a working, legitimate installation can be found with the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. It’s a simple application that does what it advertises. That’s good enough for me to call it magic.