Monday, April 27, 2009

vLite - Unattended Installations for Windows VIsta

How to create your very own bootable ISO with all the drivers you could need on it.

Go to and download all the driver packs for your architecture (x86/x64) Extract the .7z files to a local directory using 7-zip ( or winRAR (

Download vLite and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (W.A.I.K.), these are both free and should be the first hits in google

Install the WAIK and then install vLite - don't run it just yet.

Copy the wimgapi.dll from the Windows AIK/Tools/YourArchitecture folder (x86/ia64/amd64) into the vLite root folder. Windows AIK defaults to installing in "c:\Program Files\Windows AIK"

Run vLite and on the first screen pop in your Vista DVD and direct it to that drive (it will prompt you to create a local copy) or point it to a location where you have copied all the files from the CD.

NOTE 1: I recommend copying the files across yourself and then making an additional copy of the folder. Using vLite can be a destructive process and you may not get it right first time. If you have a spare copy on your hard drive, your golden master, so to speak. It's a lot easier and quicker to just clone this folder than having to: find your DVD or mount the ISO, copy the files across etc. etc. etc.

NOTE 2: If you are struggling for space you can uninstall the WAIK and save a few gigabytes as you will need them shortly to create your ISO, at least 6G is what I would recommend leaving available so you can copy the files locally and build your ISO image.

vLite will now detect your architecture type and the version of Vista that you have given it. On the next screen, all the options with the exception of Integration is optional (technically it is but then you wouldn't have any drivers installed on your DVD which is kinda the point of this post)

The checkboxes let you do several things, most of them are self-explanatory from the name of the checkbox but let me give you a quick overview.

- HotFixes, Drivers and Additional Language Packs
Using this will let you integrate HotFixes from Microsoft, Drivers from 3rd Parties (or MS) Language packs (Haven't used this option yet)

Components - Component Removal
This lets you remove components that you are not intending to use - EVER.
There is an optional popup screen to protect certain applications that use shared files etc. but unless you know what you are doing and the consequences, which could potentially be far reaching if you don't know what the system will be used for. It's best to leave this alone except as mentionned for very specific uses.

Tweaks - Optional Tweaks
In here you can specify tweaks that mean you don't have to do as much on first boot into your new O/S. Things like specifying that the control panel should default to classic mode (very useful), or that the IE Phishing filter should be disabled (why are you using IE anyway?) etc. There are quite a few things in here and it's worth a look

Unattended - Install without your intervention
All the options in this section are used to make your life easier. You can specify your product key, skip activation, set your language settings, set up the Administrator User, name your PC (Not that useful in a corporate environment) and a few other bits.

You should take a look at most of the options with the possible exception of the Component removal and Tweaks. If you know enough that you are going to integrate additional installers onto your disc you should know to ignore creating the bootable ISO as you will have to do that later yourself.

Once you've completed all your modifications, you can hit apply and it will update the copy of the Vista installation files (see NOTE 1 above)

THIS STEP DOES NOT CREATE THE ISO. Do not press exit if you want to create a bootable ISO image.

Click on the next button and you will be presented with an additional screen. This will let you create your ISO image OR burn directly to DVD. I recommend creating the ISO.
On this screen there is also the option to split the image if its very large or possibly to make it fit on CDs if you don't have a DVD ROM in your target device. I haven't used this option yet so can't guid you on its use.

Once you are happy with the name of your new disc/disc image (defaults to VistaLite even though it might be a bit bigger) hit Make ISO or Burn. In the case of Make ISO it will ask you for the output path.

NOTE 3: Do Not Integrate all drivers if you want to install it on a Dell Latitude 131L, I'm still working on what is actually required to install Vista on this without it BSODing regarding the graphics card.


Neil said...

What does the "Copy the wimgapi.dll from the Windows AIK/Tools/YourArchitecture folder (x86/ia64/amd64) into the vLite root folder. Windows AIK defaults to installing in "c:\Program Files\Windows AIK" step accomplish?


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