Creating a Custom WinXP/Vista/Windows 7 Installation

slimThere is a wonderful freeware utility called nLite that allows you to create a custom Windows XP installation where you can pick-and-choose what you want installed on your system. For example, the default WinXP installation will install various files for several different languages and keyboards, hardware drivers, applications, etc. which you probably will never use. So why not remove this unnecessary stuff from the Windows installation files? That is exactly what the nLite application does.

What’s nice about nLite, is that it have a very easy to use interface that steps you through the customization procedure. You can very easily select which items (e.g., applications, drivers, services, etc.) that you want to exclude from the custom WinXP installation files. There’s also provisions to check if you’re trying to remove a feature or file needed by something else in the installation. Now, it may seem undaunting at first since you may not know what items to keep and exclude from the custom installation, but there’s several web sites that offer assistance and suggestions.

I’ve documented how to use nLite for creating a very small WinXP installation on my Dell Mini 9 web blog. Since disk space on the Mini 9 Netbook is such a premium, having the smallest OS installation is a must.

Likewise, there is a program called vLite that allows you create custom Windows Vista and Windows 7 installation files. I used vLite to create a reduced Win7 installation DVD for my D610, and it seemed to run just fine.

The nice thing about nLite and vLite, is that you can enter a lot of data required by the initialization process in the application so that you are not asked for it during the installation process. For example, your main user name and password, Windows Product Key Code, etc. can all be entered in the installation file. Also, there’s several different OS tweaks and custom settings you can specify so you don’t need to make them after you do the Windows installation. Additionally, you can “Slipstream” major updates such as Service Packs and needed hardware drivers into the installataion file so you don’t have to install them later after the installation. This is nice if you have several PCs you want to install Windows and don’t want to install drivers, service packs, adjust registry settings, etc. for each machine manually to save time.

Definitely worth checking out if you do a lot of Windows installations or want to reduce the amount of disk space taken up by your Windows installation.


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