Keep it Simple: Slipstream Win2k3 SP1

You can save yourself some time with our quick guide to burning a custom Windows 2003 Server install CD with Service Pack 1 slipstreamed in.

By Deann Corum | Posted May 19, 2005
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Even if you do live in a Microsoft world, you might believe in the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method of doing things whenever possible. So, in the interest of simplicity, not to mention efficiency, let's look at how to create a bootable Windows Server 2003 installation CD with the recently-released Windows 2003 SP1 slipstreamed in. This will result in one CD and one installation, rather than loading Windows 2003 then separately loading SP1 afterwards. There should be more things in life that are this simple! The only problem you might have is having to install any subsequent updates when PSSU (Post Setup Security Update) pesters you, and there may be a few by the time you read this.

Before we begin, rescue your Windows Server 2003 installation CD from whatever pile it's lying around in, then download the Windows 2003 SP1 Network Installation to a network or local folder you'll create. For the purpose of this article, we'll use G:\W2K3SP1. Also, you'll need a CD-R/CD-RW drive and CD burning software such as Nero, as well as about 800 megabytes of local or network drive space for the resulting files. Once you have these requirements met, you're ready to go!

Also on Windows 2003 Server at ENP

  • Blazing the Win2k3 SP1 Trail
  • Study: Win2k3 More Secure than Red Hat's Enterprise Server
  • Net a Few Phishes with SPF for Windows 2003
  • Eight Steps to a More Secure Win2k3 Server
  • Implement IPSec on Windows Server 2003
  • First, copy the files from the Windows Server 2003 CD into a directory you've created on your local hard drive or network drive. For the purpose of this article, we're going to call it G:\Win2003. Copy the entire contents of the Windows Server 2003 CD into this directory.

    Before integrating the new SP1 files into the existing Windows Server 2003 files, we need to extract the service pack files. So, change back to the G:\W2K3SP1 directory and type:

    WindowsServer2003-KB889101-SP1-x86-ENU.exe /x 
    where WindowsServer2003-KB889101-SP1-x86-ENU.exe is the name of the Windows 2003 SP1 file you downloaded.

    Now, to complete the integration of the new service pack files into the installation directory, change to the G:\W2K3SP1\i386\update directory, which now exists since you extracted the files. Then, type:

    update /integrate:G:\Win2003

    Where G:\Win2003 is the name of the directory you copied the original Windows Server 2003 files to in the previous step. You do not need to specify the i386 directory. Update will automatically locate it from the root.

    Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 Update Process
    (Click for a larger image)
    Once this process is complete, the files in the G:\Win2003 folder will have been updated with the new SP1 files.

    Note that at this point, you can deploy Windows Server 2003 with SP1 from this distribution folder in either attended or unattended Setup mode. Another advantage of using a slipstreamed version of Windows Server 2003 for installation is that if you install new Windows components in the future, setup won't have to 'find' both the original Windows installation files and the SP1 files separately. You'll just reference this installation folder or produce a slipstreamed CD such as the one we're creating here.

    To continue creating our bootable slipstreamed CD, we need to extract the Windows Boot Sector image from the Windows Server 2003 installation CD. There are several packages available that can extract boot image files from a bootable CD. IsoBuster is one of them, and WinISO is another. For this article, I'll use IsoBuster.

    Once you've loaded IsoBuster, insert the Windows Server 2003 CD into your CD-ROM drive. Open IsoBuster and select Bootable CD from the left pane, then right- click the Microsoft Corporation.img file, and select Extract Microsoft Corporation.img from the context menu. Enter a name for the image file you're extracting, and hit Save.

    IsoBuster Extracting Boot Sector Image
    (Click for a larger image)
    Next, load Nero or your favorite CD-ROM burning application. The instructions from this point on may vary depending on your CD-ROM burning application, but I'll use Nero as an example since that's what I've got loaded on my system.

    Launch Nero Burning ROM and select File, New, then CD-ROM (Boot). Select the Boot tab, then select Image File and enter the location of your image (.img) file you saved previously.

    Nero Creating Bootable CD
    (Click for a larger image)
    Select Enable Expert Settings and set the emulation to No Emulation.
    Set the load segment to 07C0 and the number of sectors to 4.
    Select the Label tab and enter a Volume Label for your CD.
    Click New, then select Edit from the menu, and select Add Files.
    Add all the files from your updated Windows Server 2003 installation directory (G:\Win2003) to this CD compilation.
    Once that's done, select Recorder from the menu, then Burn Compilation, then Burn from the resulting dialog box.

    This will create your bootable, slipstreamed Windows Server 2003 SP1 CD. Many Happy Installs!

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