Slipstreaming Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM

The purpose of this is to guide the installer through updating their installation media with all of the current patches that should be applied at install to Windows Server 2008 R2. These instructions can be easily adapted to any Windows installation media.

By slipstreaming all of the available patches into the installation, you reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy an operating system. A typical operating system install with the release-to-market installation media is typically one hour. Add the time to install all of the patches through the multiple required reboots and you have increased that time dramatically to over six hours. If you were to build those patches into the installation media, you cut that time back down to one hour. Bear in mind that the process described below does take some time to complete. But it is better to spend the time doing it once than each time you install a system. This will also save on your bandwidth utilization and network latency. If you keep your media current, this process will go much faster.

Slipstreaming removes the necessity of after install updates for the current patch level. The software goes through the installation WIM and updates the existing files with the newer versions. This means that the newest version of the patch or driver is installed the first time.

Another consideration of slipstreaming is applying common settings to your base install image. You can configure the image for an unattended install, include the license key in the image for automatic activation, and remove features from the image among other settings. You can even specify default roles and features to be installed automatically. These options are all beyond the scope of this document which only focuses on updating the RTM media with security fixes.

These instructions are adaptable for Windows 7 meda as well. Instead of the RT Server Customzer product, you will need RT Seven Lite to accomplish this.

One final note before we begin. Per KB 946928, there is no standalone installer of the latest version of the Windows Update Agent (7.6.7600.256). This is the most current Windows Update Installer. This will still need to be installed through Windows Update once the machine is configured. We are also slipstreaming Internet Explorer 9 as a post install application execution. Any updates specific to Internet Explorer 9 will also need to be executed post-install through Windows Update.

What you will need:

How it is done

Once you have all of the materials you need for the slipstream (original installation media, Service Pack 1 installation files and an installation of RT Server Customizer), you can launch the RT Server Customizer application to begin the process.

If you are using an image of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 already installed, you will want to jump to the “Slipstreaming typical patches” section. Though the instructions are quite similar, there are a few key differences. Each is performed separately.

Bear in mind that though Microsoft released Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter and Web editions on a single ISO, this process will remove all but one edition. If you wish to slipstream multiple editions, you will have to perform these steps multiple times and create separate ISOs for each. Fortunately, most of the same updates apply to all editions.

Slipstreaming Service Pack 1

  1. In RT Server Customizer, click Browse and select the ISO file for your installation media.
  2. Click Extract Path and specify a new folder location on your local drive to use as a temporary extraction point for the media.
  3. Once you click OK, the software will extract the installation media to this new location. This can take several minutes depending on the size of the installation media. Because Windows Server 2008 R2 comes on a DVD, the software is processing approximately 4.7GB of data.
  4. If your installation media contain multiple operating systems, select the version you wish to update. For example, the Software Assurance edition of the media contains Standard, Enterprise, Data Center and Web editions along with core installations for each. Only one of these editions can be slipstreamed at a time.
  5. Select the checkbox for “Slipstream Service Pack” and click OK. This will load the proper image for the specified edition.
  6. You will be asked for the location of the Service Pack. Browse for the location and click Start. This will take quite awhile to complete. During testing, it took approximately one hour to reach 100% on a Core i5. The process will stall at 100% for quite some time as it runs the DISM Image Servicing Utility tool in the background. The DISM tool will clean out the old files from the image and consolidate it into a smaller package. This takes an additional 20 minutes.
  7. When the process is complete, press Proceed. This will cause the application to reload the new slipstreamed image for further customization options which will be covered in a later lesson. You will notice the OS Decription field now displays Service Pack 1 as the image loads.
  8. Once the image is loaded, the Task icon is activated. From this screen you can select the options you wish to pursue for your image. For this lesson, we are only going to make the image ISO bootable. Select the ISO Bootable option to enable the activity on the left. You can also save your settings at this point to enable you to duplicate the job in the future with other images.
  9. Click on ISO Bootable on the left navigation.
  10. Under Mode, we want to select Create Image. You will see there are numerous other options; but we only want to create the image with Service Pack 1 installed for the time being.
  11. You can now select Make ISO. This will prompt you for a location where to store the completed image ISO. Provide a file name and location and click Save. The process of creating your new image will begin. This process is much faster than the previous steps.
  12. Once the operation completes successfully, you can click Finish and move to the next phase and install the remaining updates. Clicking Finish will clean up the temporary files used during the update.

NOTE: You will need to manually remove the source files you extracted in step 3 before continuing with the remaining updates. This is to allow the expansion of the new media containing the Service Pack 1 files.

Slipstreaming typical updates

To successfully build updated media, it is important to first define which patches are needed. Use VirtualBox or another desktop virtualization product to build a base installation from the Windows media which contains Service Pack 1. Run through Windows updates until it can find no more updates. Once this is done, you can view the update history within that virtual machine to get a list of all of the patches that were installed. In a pinch, you can do this on VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V remembering that this is a standalone test environment and should not yet be added to your domain.

Microsoft has simplified the process of downloading patches for administrative installs by creating the Windows Update Catalog. Once you have the list of patches, you can download visit the update catalog site (http://catalog.update.microsoft.com) and add them to the download cart. Download them to a new folder on your local machine where they are easy to locate. The download process will create a separate folder for each update under this directory location.

  1. In RT Server Customizer, click Browse and select the ISO file for your updated installation media which contains Service Pack 1.
  2. Click Extract Path and specify a new folder location on your local drive to use as a temporary extraction point for the media.
  3. Once you click OK, the software will extract the installation media to this new location. This can take several minutes depending on the size of the installation media. Because Windows Server 2008 R2 comes on a DVD, the software is processing approximately 4.7GB of data.
  4. If your installation media contain multiple operating systems, select the version you wish to update. For example, the Software Assurance edition of the media contains Standard, Enterprise, Data Center and Web editions along with core installations for each. Only one of these editions can be slipstreamed at a time.
  5. Leave the checkbox for “Slipstream Service Pack” unchecked and click OK. This will load the proper image for the specified edition.
  6. Once the image has been loaded, the Task item on the left navigation will be enabled. Click on Task and select the options for Integration and ISO Bootable.
  7. Select the Integration task and select the Multiple Updates button.
  8. Locate the files you previously downloaded from the Microsft Update Catalog a click OK.
  9. You can click to select individual items from the subsequent list, or hit Ctrl+A to select all of them. Then click on OK.
  10. There are several patches such as those for the Microsoft DotNet Framework and Internet Explorer 9 that must be installed as applications rather t han update packages. Click on the Applications tab to add these. There is no multiple add for applications.
  11. Click Apply when you have all of the settings configured that you would like.
  12. You will be presented with a screen detailing the actions to be taken for confirmation. Click on Commit to begin the process. Take note of the warnings on the page. This process will take 60-90 minutes. Interrupting will cause your created image to fail and leave behind a great deal of temporary files.
  13. You can now select Make ISO. This will prompt you for a location where to store the completed image ISO. Provide a file name and location and click Save. The process of creating your new image will begin. This process is much faster than the previous steps.
  14. Once the operation completes successfully, licking Finish will clean up the temporary files used during the update.

You should now test your newly created image in your desktop virtualization application. Once you have the new image installed, you can go to Windows Update and verify that there are no further updates to perform. In rare cases, there will be only a handful of patches that need to be applied post install. If you so desire, you can make a note of these patches, download them Microsoft and perform the slipstreaming task again to embed those into the image file.

Installing the image

When you are ready to test your image for deployment, create a new virtual machine and use the new ISO as the default boot device. The system will appear to install as normal with one notable exception. After the initial install, there will be a period where the guest appears to be doing nothing. This is due to the fact that the applications being installed (Internet Explorer 9, Silverlight and DotNET Framework patches) are all installing silently in the background. Do not assume that the desktop did not load and reset the guest.

Conclusion

Slipstreaming is not a difficult process but is time-consuming. Through regular updating of your images, you can keep the process of slipstreaming and building new servers reduced to a minimum amount of effort. The more updates that are available, the longer the process will take whether building the slipstream or installing the operating system.

Further modifications suce as application install, feature removal, tweaks and un-attended further ensure uniformity in your environment for base server install. In particular, the license key feature under the un-attended option will allow you to keep your keys secure rather than diseminating that information to everyone within the organization who has a need to install the software. This in turn helps to reduce licensing costs and software piracy.