Software remastering is the process of customizing a software or operating system distribution for personal or "off-label" usage. It is particularly associated with some Linux distributions, since most Linux distributions started as a remastered version of another distribution, notably Slackware from SLS Linux; Yellow Dog Linux, Mandriva, and TurboLinux from Red Hat Linux and Linux Mint from Ubuntu, which itself is a remaster of Debian. Microsoft Windows has also been modified and remastered, and various utility applications exist that combine Windows updates and device drivers with the original Windows CD/DVD installation media, a process known as slipstreaming. Many video games have also been modified (or modded) and upgraded, with additional content, levels, or game features. Notably Counter-Strike, has been created in this manner and went on to be marketed as a commercial product.
The term remastering is taken from the audio production process, and was popularized by Klaus Knopper, creator of the Knoppix live distro, which has traditionally encouraged its users to hack the distribution in this manner to suit their needs; appropriately, Knoppix itself is a remaster of Debian.
98lite is a remastered edition of Windows 98 and Windows Me without Internet Explorer, written by Shane Brooks. It was written in response to Microsoft's claim, in antitrust proceedings, that IE is integrated into Windows and cannot be removed without breaking other features. 98lite was created in 1998 after the original release of Windows 98, out of necessity, since at the time Brooks had a slower laptop computer that ran the Windows 95 operating system fine but Windows 98 was simply too slow. Brooks liked the stability Windows 98 offered as well as some of the new features but had no need for the Internet Explorer browser. The original 98lite was a simple DOS based installer that ran before the Windows 98 installation, this installer made modifications to a fresh installation of Windows preventing the installation of Internet Explorer and the Active Desktop. Installation of the first release of 98lite required the user to extract certain files from a Windows 95 disk as 98lite uses the Windows 95 shell. A second program called Shell Swap swapped the Explorer shell with the Windows 95 Explorer, which does not contain the web features of Me's and 98's Explorer and is therefore considerably faster and more lightweight, this was designed for existing installations of Windows 98 where the original 98lite was designed for a new installation of Windows. A third program converted "required" components into addable and removable options. With version 2.0 of 98lite, the three programs were merged and combined into a single program. The IE remover was combined with the components converter, making IE uninstallable and reinstallable with the Add/Remove Programs control panel applet as with the other components, the user could also choose the Windows 95 shell and keep Internet Explorer installed. The user now had three installation options, the "sleek" option allowed the user to install 98lite with the Windows 95 shell like in the original release or the user could choose "chubby" which used the Windows 98 shell with some Active Desktop features disabled. The final option was "overweight", which installed 98lite with the Windows 98 shell and nothing disabled but Internet Explorer still removed. Version 3.0 added support for Windows 98 Second Edition, an upgraded version of Windows 98 with Internet Explorer 5.0 which made 98lite 1.0 through 2.0 obsolete. The current 4.x line has many improvements, including bugfixes and support for Windows Me.
Revenge of Mozilla is another, free, application that removes Internet Explorer from Windows 98 and restores the Windows 95 explorer.exe. There are two versions of this, one for the original Windows 98 release, and another for Win98 SE; there is no version for Windows Me. This is no longer supported, and not being updated.
There is also a company spun off from Lite-PC that produces Windows 98 and Me installations which are small enough to easily fit on embedded microchips; as small as 8MB, using 98EOS. There are also many free alternatives to this, such as Mindows and Nano98, which can provide either smaller file sizes, or more broad functionality.
Removing Windows components can adversely affect software which assumes they are present. Notably, installing any version of DirectX under 98lited Windows requires at least temporary presence of PC Health. Otherwise DirectX refuses to install, finishing installation attempt with error message "DirectX did not copy a required file".
Windows 2000 and later
The creator of 98lite also build a similar utility for Windows 2000 and Windows XP, called 2000-XPLite, which removes Windows components that are not intended to be removable. This includes Out-Of-Box Experience, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, and others. 2000-XPLite also allows tweaks to the Operating System to enhance its performance. 2000-XPLite does not use the text interface of a previous 98lite. like 98lite, 2000-XPlite installs Windows with all components, and then removes unwanted components after installation.
nLite is a free application for Windows 2000, Windows XP (32 and 64 bit) and Windows Server 2003 designed to remove unwanted Windows system components, and create cut-down customized installation CDs (or bootable USB sticks), build by Dino Nuhagic. nLite prevents components from being installed rather than removing them from an already-installed system. It lets users add device drivers and integrate Service Packs and other Windows Updates into their installation media. It also allows customization of the installation, including Product Key entry, administrator's password, regional settings and creating user account names. Users can also remove hundreds of drivers aimed at obsolete hardware that slow down the normal install process. Since the installer does not contain the unwanted components, this leads to major improvements in the speed of installation, which is of considerable benefit to IT Staff still using a manual 'roll out' approach (without the benefit of Microsoft Sysprep). Such cut-down CDs also allow Windows to be installed on hard disks below 512MB in size.
HFSLIP is an open source command line Hotfix and Service Pack slipstreaming utility designed to update Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 installation sources. In addition to hotfixes and service packs, HFSLIP slipstreams other Microsoft updates such as Internet Explorer, DirectX 9.0c, Windows Media Player, and Windows Media Codecs. It also integrates third-party device driver updates, including DriverPacks. HFSLIP slipstreams (replaces) the original files with the newer versions found in the updates from the Microsoft Download Center. HFSLIP places hotfixes that were non-standard or required a special installation procedure, in the SVCPACK folder, to be installed automatically near the end of Windows setup. As of May 2010, HFSLIP is no longer being developed, and the main website was taken down.
Autostreamer is a free slipstreaming utility for Windows XP, which can integrate a service pack into a Windows XP installation CD-ROM image. The main interface of Autostreamer is a wizard which guides the user through the slipstreaming process. According to PC World, it "simplifies the once-intimidating chore of slipstreaming your Windows XP CD—producing an XP SP2 CD from your SP1 or even vintage original XP CD".
The DriverPacks project is an open source project, which simplifies the creation of a "uniform" Windows installation CD, an installation CD that works on every piece of hardware, without needing additional device drivers after the installation, that was started by Wim Leers and Jeff Herre. It is compatible with all Windows versions based on the NT 5.1 32-bit kernel (Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista and Windows 7). Leers released the first Pack in 2005. Currently collections of device drivers (i.e. DriverPacks) exist for CPU Chipsets, CPU, Graphics/Video, Ethernet, Mass Storage/Removable/USB, Audio/Sound and Wireless (Wi-Fi/WLAN). DriverPacks BASE is a tool that integrates these DriverPacks into a Windows installation CD.
Windows Vista and later
vLite is the Windows Vista (32 and 64 bit) version of nLite, that can create a cut-down customized installation CD (or bootable USB stick). Some people have reported success using vLite with Windows 7,[dubious ] vLite is not fully compatible with Windows 7. To date the creator has not announced any intention or plan to support Windows 7.
- LitePC, Website of 98lite and 2000-XPlite
- Revenge of Mozilla
- HFSLIP Website
- HFSLIP Information Site
- HFSLIP-forum at MSFN
- "Sorta like bootleg tape trading..". Microsoft Forum Network. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Autostreamer, Slipstreaming SP1a or SP2 to XP
- "Autostreamer". Utilities Download. PC World. 19 September 2007. Archived from the original on 26 January 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=57434 (vLite supported Windows 7 beta)
- Flynn, David (29 April 2009). "No plans for ‘7Lite’ reveals vLite creator". APC Magazine. Retrieved 3 March 2010. "And although vLite does work with Windows 7 beta and the RC candidate builds, there’s obvious interest in an updated program tailored for Windows 7."