Create a stream-lined Vista install

Create a stream-lined Vista install
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What to do when Vista asks if its bum looks fat on this DVD.

Ever since the release of Windows Vista at the start of this year, we’ve been dealing with one inevitable truth: The OS upgrade is coming. Try as you might to hang on to the almost perfect loveliness of Windows XP, or even 2000, Vista will eventually offer too much, especially to gamers, to resist.

That doesn’t mean you have to do it Microsoft’s way, however. We’re going to show you how you can strip the unneeded bits from Vista, leaving only the tastiest components to be installed.

This is probably obvious, but you’re going to need a legitimate copy of Windows Vista with a valid product key. It doesn’t matter which flavour of Vista you have, but we’ll be using Ultimate for the purposes of this tutorial. We also need to download a few things:

vlite: a wonderful utility that gives us the ability to remove chunks from the Vista install, tweak certain aspects of the OS, and create an unattended install. It’s not that complicated to use, but it does have a few quirks that can slow you down if you haven’t used it before.

Vista Update Pack 1.0.3: There’s a number of ways to get your hands on the latest updates, but this is by far the fastest. Contained in the aforementioned RAR is a bunch of hotfixes and patches released for Vista over the last year. There’s a few newer ones missing, but the most important two, KB938194 and KB938979, are included. See the ‘Vista Reliability Packs’ page for more information.

Now, install vlite. There’s not much to it: just point it to a directory on your hard drive and let it extract. Before we run it however, we need to do the following:

1. Insert your Vista DVD into your PC, and copy the contents across to a temporary directory. You may want to create a backup of this temp folder somewhere, to save you from having to recopy the Vista install files if you screw up. It’s about 2.5GB worth of data.

2. Open the Vista_Update_Pack_V1.0.3.rar archive, and find the directories ‘Extracted’ and ‘x86’. Both can be found in the Updates folder of the RAR. Decompress them to another temporary directory.

That’s it! Now find vLite on your desktop or Start menu, and start it up.

Venturing into vLite
The first thing vLite will prompt you to do is install a WIM Filter. The WIM filter allows vLite to access the special image file that contains all the Vista installs. Without it, we won’t be able to create a slipstreamed image, so say yes when asked to install it. Thankfully, you won’t need to reboot for this.

Once this dialog box is gone, you’ll see a drop-down box in the middle of the vLite window. Hit the browse button to the right of it and locate the directory where you copied the contents of the Vista DVD. vLite should analyse the folder, and then prompt you to select a flavour of the OS. As mentioned previously, we’re going to use Ultimate, but choose whichever one you have a valid key for. Hit the Next button.

Now we need to configure what we want to play with. Unless you’re the timid type, tick all the boxes, which will include:

Unattended Setup
Bootable ISO
Enable Before Apply

‘Enable Before Apply’ is particularly important, as you won’t be able to create a bootable ISO otherwise.
The next page allows us to integrate language and driver packs into the install, and is one of the most powerful features of vLite. We’re not going to worry about language packs, as Vista comes with English, and we’re also going to give driver integration a miss, as the last thing you want in your clean install is redundant drivers if you ever decide to replace your hardware. Best to keep the install as light as possible.

With hotfixes, however, we’re going to go all out. In the Hotfixes tab, hit the ‘Enable’ checkbox, then click the Insert button. First, browse to the ‘Extracted’ folder we decompressed earlier, select all the updates you find there, and hit Open. vLite will automatically import them, and they should appear in the list box. Now follow the same procedure for the ‘x86’ directory.

We’re finished with this page, so we’ll hit next to get to the really good stuff – content removal.

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This feature appeared in the December, 2007 issue of Atomic Magazine

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