Creating nlite image discs for your PC/server

July 10th, 2009

For anyone who regularly (or even irregularly) has to re-install operating systems in a business environment, you’ll know exactly how time consuming, dull and repetitive this can be. Thankfully there are products out there for making this process a little easier, and this one is even free!

One such product is called nlite (or vlite for vista products). It’s not a fully fledged imaging product- but instead allows you to take a huge amount of the hassle out of the re-installation process by bundling together service packs, windows updates, drivers and pretty much anything else you might want, into one neat iso.  What this means for administrators who look after just a few different models of workstation, is that you can build up and keep a library of up-to-date disc images, so that in the event of needing to re-install – you’ve got a disc on hand which will leave the machine in a much more ready state than a standard OS disc.

So, first of all, download nlite

Once installed, launch the Appnlite in action

Now, you’ll need to point the installation at your OS disc, for nlite to start to build it’s own image.

At this point, you’ll be prompted to chose the various features of nlite’s features,

nlite features

the most important (read as: useful) features are

1. Slipstreaming Service packs and updates
2. Including Drivers

You can then customise pretty much every aspect of Windows, ripping out services, languages, all kinds of features can be remove to save space, or for security – but the real risk here is that you might rip something out that you’ll later need, so take care here.

In the customisation section there’s some really good features, such as being able to setup your default windows explorer views, customising your ‘start’ toolbar and many many more – one of my personal favourites is the ability to add the OS, Service Pack and version to the bottom right hand corner of your desktop background. Until I saw this in nlite, I didn’t even know that it existed in Windows!

Once you’ve finalised all of your options, you’ll get a page where you’re prompted to begin the build

nlite ready to build

nlite will then build you a bootable image which you simply write to disc with your favourite CD writing software and you’re ready to install your machine.