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Easy Explanation of Various Hotfix Install Methods


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I thought this type of thread would be good as a clarification to everybody, myself included, of the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each hotfix install method, including the various methods of slipstreaming, the GuiRunOnce method, an explanation of cmdlines.txt, svcpack.inf, dosnet.inf, and any other methods that exist. I mean this to be an area for clarification of what is known, not for discussion of ideas. Thanks, and maybe someone knowledgeable could post a guide addressing these things.

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cmdlines.txt - it's not good for installing hotfixes because it runs under system account and has no access to desktop. Even if it appears the hotfix installs fine, it might not. If the hotfix tries to add something to the RunOnce key it will silently fail. cmdlines.txt was mainly good for nt4, it's not really needed anymore.

svcpack.inf - same as cmdlines.txt.

guirunonce - it's a good way to install hotfixes. However, it's not perfect. For one, it takes a long time to install the hotfixes. For another, if the computer restarts while it's running guirunonce, guirunonce won't run again. It's also very slow. And it causes registry conflicts. If you use guirunonce then repair the registry, you're going back to before the hotfixes were installed.

dosnet.inf - the file is used by text mode. Since text mode doesn't have network access or dos access, the file is used to copy files locally so text mode won't need to use dos or the network. It's only used in the GUI. It's possible to bypass dosnet.inf with a cd install...


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HotFix Installation Methods

There have been many different methods mentioned here, but the three following are the only ones that I would consider "safe".

1) SVCPACK.INF Method.


3) GuiRunOnce Method.

1) Advantages:

When done correctly, insures the highest level of file coherency as all previous versions of all files are replaced with the updated versions. These hotfixes will never need to be re-installed. Most space efficient of 3 methods, as outdated files are removed before creating the distribution. This method, SVCPACK.INF, also requires modification of the DOSNET.INF file. This method will slipstream the hotfixes, the other methods will apply the hotfixes.

1) Disadvantages:

Most complicated of the three.

2 & 3 are similar in end result, and not as stable as 1. The advantage is that it is easy to implement. Picking which of the two to use seems to be a personal preference, but according to MS:

Use Cmdlines.txt when:

You are running commands, programs, scripts, or batch files from the $OEM$ folder on a distribution share.

You want to install applications or perform configuration tasks during GUI mode stage of Setup.

You want to install applications or perform configuration tasks under the Local System security account.

You do not need network connectivity to perform the installation or configuration task.

You are not using Windows Installer packages (.msi files) to install applications.

You want to install applications or perform configuration tasks while no user is logged on.

Use [GuiRunOnce]when:

You need access to hard drives, CD-ROM drives, shared folders on the network, or other storage devices.

You want to install applications or perform configuration tasks under a specific user account.

You need network connectivity to perform an installation or configuration task.

You are using Windows Installer packages (.msi files) to install applications.

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Yea, thanks a lot Greenmachine. I have one other question. Is it definitely safe, to install any application that is not an .msi using svcpack.inf? What if the .msi is packaged inan installer? Oh, and can you explain the function of the cat files and why some people say they should be listed in svcpack.inf, but AaronXP's gide doesn't say to use them? Thanks a lot.

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1) NO - I think installing from SVCPACK is an undocumented, unsupported option. (But I do like it!) Kind of try and see, but judging from the results, and the point of the installation at which it happens (just before CMDLINES.TXT) I am convinced it is safe.

2) I really don't enough about .msi's. I install DotNetFX, and I assume that is an msi in an installer. I have done it, others do it, and it seems to work. There is another thread going on about this subject, and I am just getting around to learning about it.

3) The .cat files are the security catelog, i.e. signature files. If the hotfixes are indeed slipstreamed - that being pertenant files extracted and injected into the distribution, than these .cat files must be with the updated files. Aarons guide does not say to use them (I think, I have not actually looked at it in details since he posted it) as he uses SVCPACK.INF to call the hotfix installers, and does not integrate the files before hand. I use the RoyalBox HotFix Slipstreaming Method to update the files on the CD before CD creation. Aarons method just installs the hotfixes from there. We still need to actually run the installers to update the registry and such, and it will, in fact, once again try to update the files, albeit with an identical version. The risk of Aaron's method is that files exist on the CD, but a later version is installed. Probably a very minor risk for most of us, and both methods result in an equally up to date installation (at point zero). If the system ever asks you to insert the Windows XP CD, then you may have to ask your self which files it is getting, and if they are up to date.

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Yeah, but Spheris said you can only slipstream "type 1" hotfixes. Slipstreaming "type 2" hotfixes will break things. So sliptreaming type 1 hotfixes aren't going to help anything when you cant do "type 2" hotfixes. Even if you only have 1 hotfix that can't be slipstreamed you are going to have to be careful any time it asks for the cd.

This frustrates me to no end. What's the sense of slipstreaming any hotfixes when you can't do them all? Saves a few minutes of install time, sure. Makes it a lot harder to maintain your installation cd too. You have some hotfixes slipstreamed, but some hotfixes running in another batch, and then more hotfixes running even later in the install because they patch stuff you couldn't install before the first bunch of hotfixes, etc. So far nobody has shown me a good reason to slipstream any hotfixes when you can't do them all.


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Thank you SO much, GreenMachine. You have no idea how clear and precise you are. And the best thing is that you admit what you don't know something, you don't claim to know things you don't. You and AaronXP are definitely the most helpful ones on the forum. Thanks again!

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Sorry to take up your time with petty questions, but just one more thing. Is it safe to install Recommended Updates and other such updates using svcpack.inf? Thanks once again!

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I have most all updates that appear in windows update, critical and recommended (4 remain in WU) installed in this fashion. I slipstream the type one, and simply install the type two, as well as DirectX, WMP, etc. It seems to work - I trust it enough for my purposes. Whether it is the supported or recommended way, I cannot say, but my acceptence criteria is, to say it nicely, rigorous at least. If I had to support this, I would perhaps read the fine print of my microsoft support contract, but only for legal protection. I say GO FOR IT!

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Oh jesus, this only just makes things more complicated for me. Basically, here's how I'm setting up my XP:

Uattended, with the exception of the partition select.

Only intend to install hotfixes (and optionally WMP9 and/or DX9, I may make another CD for one of these two or both for another occasion). No third-party applications will be automated (I prefer to choose where they should be installed :)).

The majority of the registry tweaks applied in the Hive files, with the CMDHere tweak and some HKLM (mostly Service) tweaks applied during the GUI Setup.

Is slipstreaming the hotfixes a very complicated thing to pull off? Will it guarantee me far better results?

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