I’ve recently had a bout of paranoia so I decided to back things up. And since one of the essential backup tools is having a dependable set of installers, I decided to assembly my backup DVD case – a DVD bag full the essential installers. That’s when it struck me that the copy of Windows Vista I had was in CD format, meaning I have 5 discs for the installer.
I hate having multiple disc installers. For one, it demands that you stay during the process to be able to swap discs. Tedious and time consuming. And, if one of the discs go bad, you’re screwed. So I decided to make me a DVD installer instead, consolidating all of the stuff in those 5 CDs. And with some Googling and experimentation, here’s how I made mine.
First, I checked how the installers work. Disc 1 contained the core files for the installation and the rest of the discs contained files named install*.swm inside a folder labeled “/sources.” The * being a number like for Disc 2, it’s install2.swm and so goes the logic. Disc 1 had a “/sources” folder that contained a lot of files together with a install.swm (which I assumed was the first bugger in the series). Googling confirmed my assumption that copying all of these individual SWM files in the root sources folder will make it one seamless installer.
Now the more technical part is to assemble the installer itself.
My installer was a bootable one so I decided I’d like my DVD to be bootable as well. Not wanting to go through the crazy process of extracting boot images and reconstructing the whole thing to the DVD, I just focused on making image files (ISO).
I downloaded MagicDisc a freeware virtual CD/DVD app that works great with Vista (unlike Alcohol and Daemon Tools). With it, I created an ISO of Disc 1 which caries all the boot information and the installer’s publisher credentials.
The next obstacle for me now, is to get all the other SWM files into the sources folder inside Disc 1. And for that, I needed an application that edits ISO files. And for that, I’d recommend MagicDisc’s tandem software, MagicISO. Unfortunately this, is paid software. But I think it’s worth getting for compatibility with Vista. If you were able to use Alcohol or Daemon Tools with your installation of Vista, feel free to use those.
After copying, I now had an ISO of a seamless Vista installer ready to be burned on a DVD. I fired up Nero, burned the image on a blank DVD. I then tested it and it works fine.
For a quick wrap up:
- Create and image file of Disc 1 (ISO)
- Using an ISO editor, copy the install*.swm from the other discs to the “/sources” folder in the Disc 1 ISO. You should end up having all the install.swm, install2.swm, install3.swm, install4.swm, and install5.swm (optional) in the “/sources” folder
- Save the image
- Burn the image into the DVD
Some versions of Windows Vista, however, aren’t built to be bootable. This is so far theoretical so I hope this works.
- Copy the contents of Disc 1 to a local folder, say C:vista
- Copy the install*.swm files from the other discs to C:vistasources
- Burn it to a DVD and try using it as an upgrade installer over Windows XP
Use Nero to create a bootable DVD with the contents of the C:vista folder.
There you go. Again, as a disclaimer, this process worked for me and I can’t assure you that it’d work 100% on your case. And my purpose for making a DVD installer is for backup purposes only!