Wednesday, June 14, 2006

XP ISO Builder

I recently bought a new Notebook for my girlfriend. It came pre-installed with Windows XP Home (Toshiba OEM) and included lots of things I did not really care for. Moreover I have reservations against any installation I have not done myself or really know the person who did. So I went for a clean and fresh install.

My enthusiasm was subdued by the fact that they only provide a recovery CD that restores an image including all the stuff I wanted to get rid of. Because I do not have a regular XP Home CD I searched the web to see how other people had handled this problem.

Someone in a forum wrote that you could create a Windows install CD from an installed version using several tools. Looking for an easier way I came across a solution provided by the German c't magazine (see here) and the XP ISO Builder. The c't tool allows you to create a CD directory structure and an ISO image from a running Windows in one step. All necessary files are collected from the Windows directory and some helper files (e. g. the CDs boot code) are created. It also allows you to slipstream a service pack.

XP ISO Builder allows you to easily create unattended installs. But you can also use it to include a lot of settings into the Windows CD:

  • make the details view default in Explorer
  • use the classic Windows look as default
  • create user accounts on installation
  • include "F6" drivers (great if you do not have a floppy drive anymore)
  • include other device drivers for hardware not supported by the original Microsoft CD. Very useful for network and wireless drivers.
  • specifiy location and size of the page file
  • relocate the Documents and Settings folder
  • incorporate Service Packs and other Microsoft updates
  • include 3rd party applications to automatically install after setup
  • lots more

So I took the structure created by the c't tool as input for the ISO Builder and created a bootable DVD that includes all the drivers related to the Toshiba notebook and lots of other stuff (Acrobat Reader, anti-virus software, HDDhealth etc).

Installing the system with this disk was then really very relaxed. I recommend to build a custom install disk very much, because it can save you lots of time if you reinstall a system.

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