Mounting CD isos for installation

Scott Hanselman’s Computer Zen – Vista Reliability and my Tolerance for Pain
I gave Scott H. a little bit o’ sass when he mentioned the hassle of having to reinstall all the Microsoft tools under Vista. I can empathize.

Back in the day, when I had to support multiple computers, we copied all our cd-rom ISOs to a Linux file share and mounted them using a loopback. Then we shared them out using Samba. That way, we were able to access the installation files from any of our networked PC’s. This was nifty. (We also did this with a couple of cd based magazine and journal archives we had). We were able to write scripts that we could run on the PC’s to install the various versions of Office and other programs.

So it got me to thinking, is this possible under Windows? Can you mount isos as drives under Windows and set up some kind of unattended install? Well, yes to the first part, and no (for the most part)to the second. Installpad gets you most of the way there to re-installing all your favorite applications on a newly shorn machine. If you are an MSDN subscriber, you can download the ISO files for Visual Studio and Office that you want to install. If you own the CD’s/DVD’s, you can make your own ISO files.

Mounting isos under windows is simple if you are a tech type. Microsoft even released an unsupported “powertool” type application for mounting them.

So we’re 1/2-way there. The rest of the steps I haven’t personally tried so go forward at your own risk.

Aaron Stebner has an excellent selection of links detailing how to perform unattended installs of Visual Studio 2005, MSDN, and the .Net Framework.

Here is a procedure for installing Office 2003, it requires the Office Resource Kit.

Of course this kind of information is only usefull if you have to support a lot of machines or if you are the kind of masochistic person who is trying to keep up with all the Vista releases. Me? I’m gonna wait until it comes pre-installed on a new machine I buy. Think they’ll pre-load Vista on the MacBook Pros? ;)