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Make a lite version of Windows XP with nLite --- a detailed guide

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows XP and Vista' started by naton, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. naton

    naton Notebook Virtuoso

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    Hi there,

    I wrote this tutorial as a reference guide for myself and kept tweaking it over the past couple of years. I decided today to upload it on the forum as you guys might benefit from it.

    Although various versions of Windows can be used with nLite (2000, XP HOME, XP Professional, XP 64 bit, Server 2003...) I'm limiting myself here to Windows XP HOME, Professional, and Corporation as these are the only versions I tested with nLite.


    • Depending on the version of Windows used and the language selected, the ISO file can be as small as 172MB.
    • The installation on the harddrive takes about 550MB before installing the drivers.
    • After clean installation, there are only 17 or 18 running processes.
    • The amount of RAM used by Windows is about 100MB before installing the drivers.

    Requirements:
    • A Windows XP CD or image file. You can use Windows XP Home edition, Professional edition, or Corporate edition. Note, Windows Foundation for Legacy Computers (Win XP FLC) will not work.
    • The Certificate Of Authentication (COA) number.
    • nLite v1.4.9.1. It can be downloaded from here.

    Note:
    nLite is very useful for those having trouble installing Windows XP on a SATA harddrive. It allows the integration or slipstreaming of the missing SATA drivers and thus the detection of the SATA harddrive by Windows XP installer.

    GUIDE:
    1- Create a new folder in your harddrive and copy the content of your Windows XP CD inside it. If you're using an image file (e.g. IMA or ISO file) just uncompress it inside the new folder.

    2- Download the drivers for your laptop if you want to integrate the drivers to the light version of Windows. I didn't integrate any drivers because I wanted a generic Windows that I can install in any system.

    3- Download hotfixes or service packs. This is optional.

    4- Start nLite. The screenshot below shows that I used nLite 1.4.5. I used various versions of nLite over the years. The best on is the last one, i.e. v1.4.9.1. You can download it from here.

    [​IMG]

    5- The below screen will show on the screen when you click 'Next' on the above one.

    6- Click 'browse'.

    [​IMG]

    7- Select the folder containing Windows XP. This is the folder created in step 1.

    [​IMG]

    8- Click 'Next' at the screen below.

    [​IMG]

    9- When the below screen shows up in your screen you have two choices; you can click next and mend Windows to your liking, or import a 'preset'. A preset is a text file. At the end the tutorial you can save the changes you made with nLite as a preset file. This will save you the time required to re-enter everything by hand if you want to mend Windows again in the future. There are several present files that can be downloaded from the internet. You can use google to find them.

    [​IMG]

    10- If you clicked 'next' at the previous step you should see the below screen. Here you can click on 'all' if you want to access all the options available in nLite. As I said before I wanted a light version that I can install in any computer so I didn't select 'Drivers'. Also I didn't select 'Hotfixes, Add-ons and Update Packs' because I used the Service Pack 3 file which contained all the latest hotfixes when I wrote this guide.

    If you select 'Drivers' and 'Hotfixes, Add-ons and Update Packs' you'll see a couple of additional screens that will allow you to select the drivers and hotfixes files.

    [​IMG]

    11- According to what I have selected in step 10, when I clicked 'Next', the next screen to show up was the one inviting me to select the 'Service Pack 3' file. At this screen I clicked 'Select', and then navigated to the location of the 'Service Pack 3' file.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Slipsteaming the Service Pack 3 in Windows will take a few minutes. It should take 10 to 15 minutes; possibly more if you don't have plenty of RAM or a slow harddrive. 'Plenty of RAM' means about 1GB of RAM if you're using nLite in a computer with Windows XP, and 2GB of RAM if you're using nLite with a computer running Windows Vista or 7 :)

    13- Once the slipstream is completed, click 'Next' and you should see the screen below. This screen is a safeguard which preserves you from removing some options/components that you might want to keep or need. I didn't select any option here since I did intensive search and I know what can be removed safely :)

    [​IMG]

    14- Click 'Next' and you'll see the below screen. The fun starts here :D. The following screenshots shows what is safe to remove.

    [​IMG]

    Don’t remove ‘NT Backup’ since it is required for ‘System Recovery’ & ‘Prompt repair’. I didn't remove all of the remaining applications since I use some of them. Apart from ‘NT Backup’ it is safe to remove all of the other applications.

    [​IMG]

    Those are Windows' generic drivers. If you're installing you're own drivers then it is safe to remove/select all of the above drivers.

    [​IMG]

    The above concerns hardware support. If you remove/select a component above, this component will not be detected by Windows and thus you wont be able to install its driver later on. I tested with the above setting in various laptops and everything worked fine. My USB devices (Cameras, USB keys, and external harddrives) worked fine :).

    The following two screenshots are for keybroads and languages. Select everything for removal but your language and keyboard layout. Here I selected UK English for both (see below).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the 'Multimedia' section, it is safe to remove everything but the components in red. In addition to the components in red I left (i.e. I didn't select) 'Acm Core Code' and 'MIDI audio support' (see below).

    [​IMG]

    Below is the 'Network' section. It shows the components that are safe to remove :)

    [​IMG]

    Below shows when can safely be removed in the 'Operation System Options' Section. Note that ‘Out of Box Experience (OOBE)’ should not be selected unless unless you’re using a corporate version of Windows XP. ‘Out of Box Experience (OOBE)’ is required for the activation of Windows. ‘Input Method Editor’ is required to use the ‘Language Bar’. ‘Application compatibility patch’ is required to run old programs in Win95, Win98, WinNT, or Win200 mode. Last, ‘File System Filter Manager’ is required by some Antivirus Software.

    [​IMG]

    Below is the list of the services that can be removed safely. If you want to experiment note that “Extensible Authentication Protocol”, “Health Key and Certificate Management Service”, “Kerberos Key Distribution Center”, and “Network Access Protection (NAP)” are required for the good functioning of the wireless network (i.e. WIFI). Also, “Secondary Logon” is required to run application in compatibility mode.

    [​IMG]

    Everything in the 'Directory' section can be selected for removal (like below).

    [​IMG]

    After completing the above just click 'Next'. Some of Windows' services are interlinked. The message below might show up if you select a services for removal which is linked to another service. Just click 'Yes' until this message goes away.

    [​IMG]

    15- The below screens allow you to automate the installation of Windows so you don't have to sit in front of you computer during the installation process.

    The 'General' tab allows you to enter your Windows COA key so you're not prompted to enter it during the installation process. Here you can also set a few other things such as the destination computer; desktop or laptop.

    [​IMG]

    In the 'Users' tab you can create user accounts and set passwords.

    [​IMG]

    In the 'Regional' tab you can select the default language, the default keyboard layout, and the Timezone.

    [​IMG]

    Below is the 'Desktop theme' tab. If you selected the same item for removal as in step 12 this tab is pretty much useless since all the themes are removed. The only remaining theme the classic one.

    [​IMG]

    16- Once you're done just click 'Next' and you'll see the screens below. The setup is pretty much self explanatory. The only thing worth explaining is 'SFC (Windows File Protection)'. This should be disabled if you want to install bespoke Windows themes such as Seven Transformation Pack. When you're done just click 'Next'.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    17- Here you can tweak various bits and bobs such as Windows Explorer and Media Player. My settings are shown below. You don't have to follow them. Click 'Next' when you're done.

    [​IMG]

    Note:
    If you want to save all your tweaks as a preset file, click on 'preset' in the buttom left of the window.

    18- The following screen asks you to confirm that you want to apply all the changes selected in step 12 to 17. Just click 'Yes'.

    [​IMG]

    This is what you'll see when the process is done.

    [​IMG]

    In the above screenshot the size of the final file is shows as 155MB while I said at the beginning of the thread that the size is 172MB. Well I had to add a few bits that I removed initially because my Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet was not working properly with the 155MB file. The pressure sensitivity of the pen was disabled.

    19- Below is the last important screen you'll see while making a light version of Windows XP. Here you can save a bootable version of the light version of Windows you've just made. To save it just click on 'Make ISO'. If you have a CD/DVD burning software you can burn this version directly into a CD. I'm not sure if you can use any burning software with nLite. I know that Nero Burning Rom is compatible with nLite.

    [​IMG]

    Enjoy !
     
    Zzzoran and rajab like this.
  2. Profy_X

    Profy_X Notebook Consultant

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    Thanx dude i was realy searching something like this for making a xp with raid drivers and probably a W7 if it will work :D
     
  3. alvinkhorfire

    alvinkhorfire Notebook Consultant

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    @naton
    It is nice to know there are some users like you who share the same interest like me in slimming down Windows. :D I used nLite before to slim down Windows XP.

    On a unrelated note, if anyone want to slim down Windows 7, you can refer to my guide in the first link in my signature. Comment and feedback are welcomed.
     
  4. naton

    naton Notebook Virtuoso

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    what is smallest version of Win 7 you've seen?

    The smallest version of Vista is less than 400MB. I think it was about 360MB for the ISO file. It was made by the developer of Vlite. Unfortunately he didn't explain what was removed.
     
  5. alvinkhorfire

    alvinkhorfire Notebook Consultant

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    @naton
    Sorry, I am not sure about it. My current slimmed Windows 7 SP1 iso is about 1.8 GB, due to integration of all Windows Updates till now. It was made with RT 7 Lite.

    Before the release of SP1, I could create a 800 MB slimmed Windows 7 RTM iso, using vLite. After the release of SP1, you cannot directly slim down Windows 7 SP1 using vLite, otherwise error will occur. In other words, you have to modify the install.wim before using vLite. Till now, I still cannot slim down Windows 7 SP1 via vLite, but I know other people have successfully done so.

    It is too bad that the development of vLite has stopped. :( If nuhi, the developer of vLite, has modified vLite to be fully compatible with Windows 7 SP1, it would be a much better software than RT 7 Lite and a much smaller iso can be obtained.
     
  6. woofer00

    woofer00 Wanderer

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    There's a ton of documentation on slimming down windows xp via nlite and vlite in various netbook forums from the early netbook days when they came with 8GB or smaller SSDs. This is probably the clearest short version I've seen though, very nice.
     
  7. naton

    naton Notebook Virtuoso

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    I played with vLite a while ago. I used it to slipstream the service pack in Vista. I dowloaded RT 7 but didn't get around to install it. Compared to vLite is it missing a lot of option?

    I'm wondering since their user interface (from the screenshot available in the web) look alike.
     
  8. alvinkhorfire

    alvinkhorfire Notebook Consultant

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    @naton
    Sorry for the late reply.

    I would say that RT 7 Lite removes slightly more components from Windows 7, compared to vLite. Then again, certain components, that can be removed by vLite, are not available to be selected in RT 7 Lite. Plus, the naming of certain components has charged from vLite to RT 7 Lite.
     
  9. lavishtroll

    lavishtroll Newbie

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    Please, can you tell me about elements for correct bamboo working? What I need to add for pressure sens detect?

    Sorry for my english))
     
  10. naton

    naton Notebook Virtuoso

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    the Wacom Bamboo tablet works fine with the Windows XP version made using the above tutorial. I've tested this version with two Wacom Pen tablets. The only thing you need is to install the tablet driver.
     
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