Slipstream a Windows XP CD with XP-SP3

It's been a while since anyone's had to slipstream a Windows XP service pack, but seeing as how SP3 is now available to play with, we thought we'd do a refresher course.

To create your own bootable Windows XP SP3 CD, you'll need the following:

You don't have to use BBIE or Nero if you don't want to, but this tutorial uses them. All you really need is an application which can extract the boot image from your current Windows XP CD, and a CD burning application which can utilise the boot image to create a new bootable CD. Choice of applications isn't critical.

NOTE: Do not follow this tutorial to create a slipstreamed XP SP3 CD using the currently-available beta of SP3. Even if you are tempted to Bittorrent it. There's a significant bug with the Windows Product Activation feature which lets you install Windows XP without entering a product key. The bug means that you're still prompted for a product key, but the installer won't accept any key you type in. We've reported this problem to Microsoft and are awaiting a response but you can assume this will be sorted out by the release of the gold master.

Step 1 - Preparing the Data

You need to create a folder structure to hold all the necessary files on your PC locally before you burn them to CD.

I used a secondary hard drive (D:) and created two subfolders: XPSP2CD and XPSP3 (my XP CD already has SP2 slipstreamed), so I'll use those names throughout the tutorial.

Copy the entire contents of the XP CD to D:\XPSP2CD, but first make sure that hidden files and folders are visible and that protection of system files is turned off via Windows Explorer.

To check this, go to Tools/Folder Options/View, check the radio button for Show hidden files and folders and make sure the checkbox next to Hide protected operating system files is unchecked.

Next, copy the SP3 standalone file (windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu.exe) to D:\XPSP3. To extract the contents of the file you can use a file archiver like WinRar, but more simply just go Start/Run and type in:

  D:\XPSP3\windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu.exe -x

This launches an extraction dialogue box. Extract the files to D:\XPSP3, and once that's done you can delete the original SP3 file as it won't be needed any more.

Step 2 - Extract the Boot Image

Download BBIE and extract the files to a local folder (in my case, D:\BBIE). Then, open a Command Windows, navigate to D:\BBIE and run the following command:

  bbie x:

(Where x: is the optical drive with the XP CD.)

BBIE will search the CD for any available boot images, and extract them using an image1.bin, image2.bin, etc naming convention. There should only be one boot image on the XP CD. BBIE also can extract boot images from ISOs - just change the command to:

  bbie x:\cdimage.iso

(Where x: is the folder containing the ISO, and cdimage.iso is the filename.)

The image1.bin will be stored in the active folder (D:\BBIE).

Step 3 - Slipstream the Service Pack

To integrate the service pack, go Start/Run and enter the following command:

  D:\XPSP3\i386\update\update.exe /integrate:D:\XPSP2CD

Note that there's no space between /integrate: and D:\XPSP2CD. The upgrade program will launch and install the service pack into the locally cached CD, and confirm with Successfully slipstreamed!

Step 4 - Create a bootable CD

Launch Nero Burning ROM and create a new bootable CD compilation. When the compilation properties window comes up, select the Boot tab.

Click the Image file radio button and Browse for the image1.bin file which BBIE extracted. Then under Advanced, tick Enable expert settings. Change Kind of emulation to No emulation. Make sure that Load segment of sectors is set to 07C0 and change Number of loaded sectors to 4.

Hit OK, then add the contents of D:\XPSP2CD to the compilation project. Burn the CD and you're done.

Note that most Windows Updates (not just service packs) can be slipstreamed into installation media via the same process, so it's worth keeping the folder structure and saving the Nero compilation so that you can just keep adding to the local cache. Using a rewritable CD will avoid wasting media, or it works just as well when updating a network install location.