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Is nLite for me?


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Greetings, everybody -

and I hope you'll have some patience with a (very) insecure newbie. I'll shoot off right away and try my best to not let this post get too long.

I need to reinstall my Windows XP Pro SP3 on a new machine since my old one is about to kick the bucket (10 ys. old motherboard starting to act up). I'm more or less a technical illiterate - a DAU - and it took me great pains and lots of time to get my OS run the way it is. I got rid of Windows Media Player, Windows Security, Automatic Updates, Windows Firewall, a bunch of services and other stuff. On the security site, my system fully relies on only three components: an old Sygate Firewall, Timefreeze (a tool that freezes/sandboxes your C: drive that I always start before going online), and Sandboxie to sandbox the browser. Of course, the usual suspects like SAS, MBAM etc. are there as well. You might sneer, but the system didn't see any virus/malware/whatever nuisance for three years. It hasn't seen any Windows updates for appr. the same time. Yes, I know I'm a crackpot.

Anyhow, my computer has reached the end of its life span and I've got a new one, with a flashy new motherboard, a new hdd (s ata as opposed to my old ide). All I'd have to do is installing XP on it (I got a oem cd that already has sp3). I'm thinking with horror at the long times it took me to get my system to the status it is now and thought I might use nLite to get the same result with less hassles. I printed out detailed guides how to make such an ISO cd, got a XP SP3 update pack (xable) and I reckon I could get such a cd done.

But I have a few questions, some (or most) of which might sound utterly stupid to you. I hope you'll bear with me.

1. What exactly do I have once the ISO thing is burned? Is it still Windows XP or is it some nLite/Windows mix? Is that new OS it creates still compatible with the original Windows CD? For example, when right now I figure I need something from my Windows CD that I never installed before, say freecell.exe or some other nonsense, I put in the Windows cd, select add/remove Windows components, and get the thing. Would that still be possible with the nLite installation? Is it still a normal, albeit trimmed down, Windows XP? Such as mine is right now?

2. The 'new' computer has Windows 7 installed. I don't want that, I want my old XP. So I'll have to wipe the hdd, format it and then I'd like to create my usual 5 partitions again - one (C:) for the system and the others for my other stuff. I've read in the webs that nLite won't partition well in an 'unattended' install. I don't really need it to install 'unattended', I won't mind babysitting it all the way to the welcome screen - but I do need my five partitions. Will it do this just as the normal installation cd does?

3. I read through the forum and noticed all the threads about 'sata' drivers etc. Most of it was technical Chinese for me, but I do understand that my new computer does have a sata hdd. Without really understanding what all those many threads were talking about, is it wise for someone like me to start on the nLite experiment at all? I just don't have the technical know-how to wise up on the whole subject. I couldn't even tell you what the difference between the new sata drive and my old ide drive is - as far as I'm concerned they both have 250 gb.

Apropos hdd - in a month or two a second hdd will move into the comp, and I figure it will be a sata II, too, as according to the tech guy who helps me in case something needs a screwdriver this is the in thing to have. Could I just install it and have XP act as it always did when something new arrived? (This basically brings me back to point 1.)

Oh - the tech guy won't be of much help for nLite. He told me he knew nothing about it and a normal XP installation might be the better option.

And lastly,

4. The XP SP3 Updatepack from 'xable' I mentioned above - if I 'slipstream' this into the ISO cd, could I still see what exactly I'm updating? I remember the last time I've been to windows update - somewhen in 2010 - and the dang thing installed some trash on my computer (Media Player or Silverlight or whatever), and it took me ages to get rid of it. For that, they never saw me again and my computer wasn't any poorer for it.

Well, sorry for the long post; and I hope it didn't come across as too dumb. nLite sounds like a wonderful idea to have a trimmed down Windows in an easier fashion than what I went through to get to my current version, but I'm not quite sure if I have the skills to handle it. I'm just not the technical wizard who looks at a code and knows all about it.

And of course, my four questions above nag at me.

Thanks a lot for your patience to read all this,


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Not adhering to your numbered bullets -

1 - You didn't specify Make/Model of the "new" PC - critical need-to-know

2 - If an OEM (say, Dell, HP) PC with Pre-Installed Win7, you would best be served with a Forensic Backup of the HDD in case you ever want to sell it (back to "stock")

3 - If you alter/remove items using nLite -AND- use ANY updates (regardless of source) it will be "mixed"

4 - Add/Remove will only work on #3 if do NOT remove said component as it will be GONE!

5 - You could also instead of Xable use this - http://xdot.tk/updates.html

6 - If you do NOT remove Components, it will STILL be "altered" but said Updates inserted will be slipstreamed

7 - SATA HDD is no problem if in the BIOS you set PATA/IDE Mode, otherwise you will need to Integrate ("slip") the CORRECT SATA drivers CORRECTLY.

8 - You would best be served with a Forensic Backup (worth repeating)

9 - If you need a PARTICULAR partitioning scheme, you'll need to do that during Install. OEM's use WinPE and Sysprep for full automation (different subject entirely)

Read a little here as well -


edit - and read the Sticky topics in nLite subforum as well

Edited by submix8c
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Hi there,

thanks for your reply!

1 - The 'new' pc is an Acer Veriton 6900 Pro

2 - The new pc has Windows 7 installed, but it's a used pc and I doubt Windows 7 was pre-installed - the comp has a xp-sticker at its side.

My old pc runs with an oem version (Dell) of Windows xp, but that wasn't there from the begin, either - I first got it with Win98se and changed to XP about 5 ys. ago. It's not a Dell pc, but one a friend built himself.

3 - I see... so it doesn't just help to get a light Windows, but actually becomes something different than just a skimmed down Windows.

4 - So it practically renders the original windows cd obsolete?

5 - Thanks for the tip!

6 - Well, removing components would've been the whole purpose of using nLite. I just wanted to save the trouble to get rid of some of the Windows stuff, like WMP and such.

7 - Oh, dear...

8 - Would have been an idea before the troubles... it started with one of the two hdds failing (hddscan3 saw nothing but orange,red and blue on test), which had some effects on motherboard and RAM which in turn affected the system. I got it running right now, but I wouldn't feel good imaging the whole mess - who knows what it did to the system? I reckon a clean install is my best option. There have been some major crashes when the hdd went bonkers, and it wasn't even the one with the system. Just seemed it took everything with it.

9 - I'm not quite sure I understand... wouldn't I always create and format partitions during installation? We used to do that with fdisk... but if I remember right, with XP it was done during the set-up.

I've been through the sticky files - that was when the doubts crept in... ;)

Do I understand this right that the main feature of nLite is the 'unattended', fully automated installation? At least it gets much attention in the threads, and I must admit that I first didn't understand what they meant with 'unattended'. I first thought of a system that wouldn't need trudging to MS update once a week - it took a while until I realized they meant a fully automated installation.

As I said, that wasn't even my ambition when I started looking at nLite. I will read the threads again and look around, but I begin to surmise I'd better stick to the old way and scrap out Windows XP myself. Maybe it gets easier the second time around.

Thanks again,


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Maybe what you really-really want to do is to "move" your current install :unsure:


(but it is not exactly what I would suggest to a "newbie")

A clone (or image) of the current disk - though it being fully "forensic sound" is not strictly needed - could be a good preventive measure (or "way back" if something doesn't go along the plans), and as submix8c correctly pointed out, a good idea if you are ever going to sell the machine or - for whatever reasons - you decide to change to Windows 7.

No, in your particular case nlite would be of no practical use for you.

nlite is a tool to modify a "standard" XP install cd removing components an customizing some aspects of the install.

You need to know very well the tool, and the organization of XP subsystems in order to get a working system (or working OK).

Most people use nlite to senselessly remove components they have no idea what they are for, then come here whining they cannot find anymore x or y.

In other words, if you never felt the need to remove anything form your old time install, there is no reason why you should start now.

A "side feature" of nlite is that of integrating the XP service pack, but this can also be done manually (and BTW is the first and "compulsory" step that you have to carry on, both if you decide to install form scratch or if you want to try the "move" approach, the CD NEEDS to be at the same SP level as your currently running XP).

What you may want to do is to integrate in the XP CD the drivers for your new motherboard (particularly your SATA drivers).

BTW, this is not strictly-strictly necessary, as it is possible to install (at least on desktops) in IDE compatibility mode and later "switch" to SATA/AHCI.

A further possibility is to keep the Windows 7, reduce the size of the partition it uses, create the other partitions you like/need and then install the XP in dual boot with the current 7.

Actually this is what I would suggest generically, as you can have the "best of both worlds" without significant issues in the installing procedure.

Unattended makes no sense whatsoever in your case (actually in most cases IMHO).

Unattended, particularly fully unattended, is used normally (properly) in (large) organization to install on a high number of machines (possibly identical between them) or in shops where the cure for *any* illness is "reinstall from scratch", a lot of people adopt this latter approach at home too, and thus reinstall from scratch very often and this is more or less the only occasion where the time to put together an unattended (particularly fully unattended) is justified.

We are talking of hours/days to get the hang/use properly nlite, days/weeks to tune a fully unattended and test it.


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Weeelllll, nLite use for what jaclaz said is "in the strictest sense" true, but it ALSO slipstreams (when properly done) Updates and so-called Add-Ons (good ones) quite nicely.

See this (re -X- website updates) -

Also some images -


As far as Unattended, you don't have to use the Unattended section (see above links) and I don't recommend it for "newbies" nor "tweaking"/"removing" stuff. Keep it "basic" - any Add-Ons (again) are a different subject to given links and some background is stated in one. There are THREE SATA Driver topics on MSFN (Intel, AMD, and nVidia AFAICR) that will assist IF you need to use strictly AHCI (SATA) Mode, but AGAIN, they are NOT necessary for PATA (IDE) Mode. You might want to in any case get the CORRECT Drivers (ALL of them) for your Motherboard and Hardware (Add-in Cards) for slipstreaming (or at least after install).

Not "rocket science" but not "easy" for a "newbie" (need SOME knowledge). IOW, "overkill without knowledge of the weapon" will definitely cause a damaged left big toe. ;)

Otherwise, jaclaz provided an accurate assessment. :yes:

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A 3rd advice:

1) It depends entirely on what options of the program you use. Some are harmless some are radical. If you remove components, some can be re-added some cannot,... better be safe than sorry.


I've read in the webs that nLite won't partition well in an 'unattended' install.
This is rubbish as nLite simply does NOT partition or rather does NOT support (read "add option for") unattended partitioning, there is no way it would do it "not well". It is a clear decision from the author. I take it the info you read was confusing or plainly wrong or you didn't really understand what it meant. Booting from you new cd, you would be able to partition your disk exactly like with a standard XP.

3) Simply boot your new comp with a standard XP, and get to the partitioning bit. If it shows your HDD and existing partitions (if any), bingo, you are lucky and don't need additional SAT drivers. If it won't, you can retry after changing bios options like said in posts above. If you still can't see the HDD from the XP disk, you can either use the floppy ("F6") option (if you can have one physically plugged in) or you'll have to consider nLite or other options for that. This test will take 7 minutes of your time.

4) ... check "5" from the 1st answer.

Also more in general, as stated or not by the 2 other posters.

-The idea behind nLite was to be able to reinstall ("for the enthusiastic hobbyist") as easily as possible. If you do all the work but install only once, it won't be much time gain, at the contrary. Though you might gain some megabytes on your HDD post install (obviously the whole nLite thing will use loads of megabytes on the "preparing" PC, but that you can get rid of.. later at some point).

Don't get me wrong, if you feel like you'll enjoy doing it and you have time, you can try. :yes:

-Removing lots of things from XP might have been be useful when installing on a sub 8Gig HDD, which you are not.

-integrating program add-ons is in my view pointless as most of them (Flash, Firefox, Java, and other) will become obsolete in a few weeks and need reinstall anyway. Someone even created an add-on for McAffee Stinger which is a 1file standalone Anti-Virus tool that's updated several times a week :w00t: see what I mean ?

-Good luck for your install. Don't forget that MS XP does comes with a license, be careful posting border line info about what you install on what machine.

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Submix, Jaclaz and Ponch, thanks to all of you for your valuable advice!

After giving it some thought, I reckon I better just do a normal XP installation. I'm not planning to reinstall again very often - rather not at all if I'm not forced to - and so the gain might not really be worth the efforts. I've managed to trim down XP quite nicely before (right now, it runs 21 processes after start-up, three of which are Sygate, TF and SB); and I guess I can do it again. After all, it's the same system, just a new comp and hdd. The system ran stable and safe for a couple of years (and prob would still do so without the hardware troubles); and if it takes me some work to get it to that same status again, so be it.

I might even save the old update hassle by using WSUS Offline Updater now, and having IE sitting in a corner won't kill me, either. It sat there all the time and wasn't started just once (I never figured out a way to get rid of it).

Most people use nlite to senselessly remove components they have no idea what they are for' date=' then come here whining they cannot find anymore x or y.[/quote']

Can't really blame them. When a DAU like me looks around the net, they'll stumble over a lot of articles talking about how nLite helps to trim down the system and get a light Windows - the natural conclusion is of course, "Oh great - a safe and comfortable tool, some mouseclicks, and off with IE, WMP and all that other rubbish..." Almost every article describes in great detail how to make such a CD, but no one explains exactly what you should use it for.

Anyhow, I'm happy I've got some good advice here!

Thanks again,


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Most people use nlite to senselessly remove components they have no idea what they are for' date=' then come here whining they cannot find anymore x or y.[/quote']

Can't really blame them. When a DAU like me looks around the net, they'll stumble over a lot of articles talking about how nLite helps to trim down the system and get a light Windows - the natural conclusion is of course, "Oh great - a safe and comfortable tool, some mouseclicks, and off with IE, WMP and all that other rubbish..." Almost every article describes in great detail how to make such a CD, but no one explains exactly what you should use it for.

Sure, it's not their fault :), the nlite is something that is very nice :thumbup but gives to the user a (false) impression of being easy (which it is) and that the things it does are easy (they are not).

I don't think there is a good guide for it (in the sense that the interconnectedness of all things is not described in detail anywhere) but to this you add that most first time users just clck a page after the other selecting everything for removal without having read the available documentation thinking that anything they removed can be later re-added (with some items it is possible, with others, though probably possible it is not documented anywhere or it is so complex that it is simply not worth the time).

Please remember that an essential part of a new install is to have the setup CD suited to the service pack of the machine, i.e. do not install a (say) SP2 and then update to SP3, it is much better if you integrate the SP3 in the source, this way you have - should problem of any kind arise - have the possibility of using Repair from the CD.


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FWIW, there IS a method of applying the "current" updates (see the "How To Integrate BasicUpdates+IE8+WMP11" link I gave) without using Windows Updates and it IS a bit faster (IMHO) getting them downloaded (uses WGET program) PLUS you have the extra advantage of having the Updates (the -X- Website link give) available at any time for "future" reinstalls FROM THE ORIGINAL XP-SP3 CD. A couple of simple CMD scripts after the Updates are downloaded. If you want the method, just ask. I guess I could "alter" the "How To" to add that method, but the topic IS, after all, about Integrating.

I am "assuming" you mean this "updater"?


Never used it and it APPEARS to include "additional beyond Basic" software/updates. :unsure:

I believe (AFAICT) it "probably" gets Updates similarly to "AutoPatcher" and jcarle's "Windows Updates Downloader" but does the Installs as well similarly to Kelsenellenelvian's "Windows Post Install Wizard".

In the meanwhile, go with what you have "If it makes you happy..." ;)

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