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Possible Speedup Installing XP by Expanding I386

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28 replies to this topic

#1
Araknis

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I know a lot of MSFN users try to compress there Unattended Installation to fit on a CD.
However, I was thinking that during windows installation that a lot of the time needed for install is caused from the expanding of all of the files in the I386 directory.

I then figured I would try a ISO in VMWare with all of the files alreaded expanded and see if it speed up installation and produced a usable OS.

I did quick test of a ISO image in VMWare and it worked.
However, I did not test to see if it caused any problems with windows file protection or any other problems.
I did try to install other optional components and it seemed to work.

What I did was integrate all hotfixes first.
The I expanded all of the *.**_ files in the I386 and I386/Lang Folders.
Using the dos command expand -r (commpressed file) by using a batch file like bellow and placing it in my I386 directory then in my Lang directory.
for %%U in (*.**_) DO (
	expand -r %%U 
	del %%U
)
pause
Note: expanding all of the files will take a long time.

Doing this left only the following compressed files in the I386 folder.
NETWORKS._ PROTOCOL._ QUOTES._ SERVICES._ TERMCAP._

The only side effect I noticed from doing this was the the /integrate switch did not work with latter hotfixes.
However, I am assuming you could just compress the files trying to be replaced by the hotfix and it should work again.

I was wondering what other peoples reactions and comments were from doing this type of installation?
Also if this is a bad idea or not?

Fixed: Remove the compressed files after expanding.
Thanks You for spotting the error galvanocentric

Edited by Araknis, 21 July 2005 - 05:11 AM.



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#2
Martin Zugec

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Interesting... I will give it a try ASAP. For people like me (that are using network intead of CDs/DVDs and dont care about space) this could be really interesting
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#3
SwedenXP

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I agree!

This could be quite interesting!

/ SwedenXP B)

#4
IRON FART

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This would be great for an XP DVD, but not so much as CD if you are, like I am, adding additional software onto the installation.

Two questions-
How much more space does it take?
How much faster is it?

Take into account that installing on VMWare isn't going to be as fast as doing an actual install, so do you know how long it would take to install on VMWare without uncompressing?

#5
nateklomp

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I've tried this, it added 100+MB to my CD but didn't offer any speed improvement on install. I thought it'd speed up install on old pc's, rather it slowed them down!

On my P200MX laptop (ata33@3600rpm hdd, 10Xcdrom):
compressed: ~45min install (~10min to copy files)
expanded: ~1HR install (~25min to copy files)

Perhaps on faster hardware, the results would have been different...but on my p4-2.4c (sata-hdd, 52Xcdrom) a complete install occurs in ~20 mins, so why bother?

Edited by nateklomp, 20 July 2005 - 05:45 AM.


#6
marek722

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To know what is faster you need some tests. There are two processes consuming time:

1. transfering data from install source
2. extraction of sources

because of nowadays processor speeds I think that the extraction is a very fast process consuming only little time. The data transfer from source depends on the media it is stored. Reading a CD-Rom is not really fast (DVD I think will perform better, LAN ...) and this could lead to slower installation without compression on fast computers (time for data transfer >> time for decompression in this case). Therefor testing in VMWare using an image stored on your hard disc produces not really usable results. But maybe both processes take only a small amount of time compared to others during installation ... just some ideas :whistle:

#7
Martin Zugec

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Did someone try it on virtual machine? What is the difference in speed?
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#8
galvanocentric

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I know a lot of MSFN users try to compress there Unattended Installation to fit on a CD.
However, I was thinking that during windows installation that a lot of the time needed for install is caused from the expanding of all of the files in the I386 directory.

I then figured I would try a ISO in VMWare with all of the files alreaded expanded and see if it speed up installation and produced a usable OS.

I did quick test of a ISO image in VMWare and it worked.
However, I did not test to see if it caused any problems with windows file protection or any other problems. 
I did try to install other optional components and it seemed to work.

What I did was integrate all hotfixes first.
The I expanded all of the *.**_ files in the I386 and I386/Lang Folders.
Using the dos command expand -r (commpressed file) by using a batch file like bellow and placing it in my I386 directory then in my Lang directory.

for %%U in (*.**_) DO (
	expand -r %%U 
)
Note: expanding all of the files will take a long time.

Doing this left only the following compressed files in the I386 folder.
NETWORKS._ PROTOCOL._  QUOTES._  SERVICES._ TERMCAP._

The only side effect I noticed from doing this was the the /integrate switch did not work with latter hotfixes.
However, I am assuming you could just compress the files trying to be replaced by the hotfix and it should work again.

I was wondering what other peoples reactions and comments were from doing this type of installation?
Also if this is a bad idea or not?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I'm installing from DVD-media so space isn't an issue. I'm going to benchmark this puppy the ol' fashioned way when I get a chance. Get a stop watch and run A) an install the usual way and B) an install the new, uncompressed way. :P
Never knew you could do this, thanks!

[EDIT]

Okay, first thing I noticed, obviously, your batch file doesn't remove the old files!!!

Here, use this instead:
@echo off

for %%U in (*.**_) DO (
expand -r %%U
del %%U
)

pause

Oh, and just so y'all know the DVD I'm testing... I uncompressed EVERYTHING in i386 so if the drivers needed compression to be installed I guess I'm screwed. :thumbup

Edited by galvanocentric, 20 July 2005 - 07:15 AM.


#9
Araknis

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Okay, first thing I noticed, obviously, your batch file doesn't remove the old files!!!

Sorry, about that :whistle: I had deleted my batch files when I made my ISO.
Actually, I created a DeleteMe.cmd and ran it when extract was done. However, your method works too.
for %%U in (*.**_) DO (
	expand -r %%U
	echo del %%U >> DeleteMe.cmd
)
This error/omission in my posted script probably explains why nateklomp had a slowdown instead of a expected speedup.
There would have been duplicates both the expanded and compressed files.

However, I highly doubt that it added only 100MB as just expanding the Lang Directory goes from 99MB to 193MB.
So, without deleting the expanded files you should have had both 99 + 193 = 292MB worth of files just in the Lang Directory.

The I386 directory itself goes form something like 377MB to 739MB however this is not that accurate as I also had hotfixes with the /integrate switch in there.

I hope you are not wasting DVD's trying this and just creating a ISO image and trying in a Virtual Machine.

Thanks for the comments and corrections.

Edited by Araknis, 21 July 2005 - 05:07 AM.


#10
Araknis

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because of nowadays processor speeds I think that the extraction is a very fast process consuming only little time.

marek722, Here is a idea to get an idea on how long it is taking to expand all of the installation files.
Just expand the files by running the script in your unattended I386 folder and see if expanding all of those files is a very fast process.

Also, yes I know that this test is not that accurate becuase when you install Windows XP that it does not expand all of the files in the I386 folder in the first place but I did not want to take the time to index every file that got expanded and write a batch file to just expand those files and I also know that the Lang folder is optional. I just wanted to see if it would install and if it is possible to speedup installation by doing this.

But you can see from the test that if I am correct that expanding before hand could and should speed up installation time becuase you have skipped the need to expand the files durring installation.

By the whay haven't there been any success stories?

#11
Zxian

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I'm gonna test this out right now.

I've made an nLited install with SP2 and hotfixes, and removed some stuff. Post nLite the (unexpanded) install size is 292MB.

The expanded install size is 572.9MB.

I'll let you all know how long it takes to do a clean install of each in VMWare.

#12
Achdine

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You won't be able to test this in VMWare, because what you're really testing is whether the read speed of the optical disk drive is fast enough to make up for time lost by the CPU expanding the files. Whether or not you get a speed gain will depend on your hard disk, optical disk drive, CPU, and the written media you burned.

This is basically what Marek said, but no one seems to have paid attention.

Also,

Just expand the files by running the script in your unattended I386 folder and see if expanding all of those files is a very fast process.

You aren't just expanding the files, you are also writing (and reading) those files to the disk, which is a slow process for such a large write. The writing process needs to be done no matter what method you use (obviously), so this is irrelevant to the testing.

If you really wanted to see if this would be faster, you would need to monitor the time for completion of the copy from removable media to the hard disk versus the expansion of the same files to the hard disk. Do this over a wide range of hardware to find an approximate coincidence, then use this point as the critical point to determine which type of Windows install to use. If the critical point is on older/slower hardware then that of the average user of your disk, then it may be worth expanding the files.

Sorry for the somewhat incoherent post, but hopefully I got across some of my concerns. I will be interested to see what the forum decides on this method.

#13
Zxian

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Ah... I see the dilemma. Well... my two VMWare installs are done now anyways... The ISO was on my hard drive, and as I expected, the uncompressed install was faster (~16mins) compared to the compressed install (~20mins) (1.4GHz P-M, 512MB allocated to VM, 5400RPM 8MB HD).

I've got two computers at home that need some formatting done to them before September, so I'll be able to get a better idea of the advantages there.

Althon XP 1800+
512MB PC2700 RAM
40GB 5400RPM HD
48x CD-ROM

Celeron 1.0GHz
128MB PC2100 RAM
20GB HD (don't know what speed off the top of my head).
48x CD-ROM

Cheers!

#14
Araknis

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Achdine, I now understand what you and Marek are saying

...what you're really testing is whether the read speed of the optical disk drive is fast enough to make up for time lost by the CPU expanding the files.  Whether or not you get a speed gain will depend on your hard disk, optical disk drive, CPU, and the written media you burned.

I get what you are saying reading from a Hard Drive is faster than from the CD/DVD and it may be faster to extract the compressed file from the hard drive then to read the extracted file from the CD/DVD.

However, I had originally thought that you would be saving time by doing some Preprocessing (I thought hey the files need to be extracted either way)? Good point you two.
I was thinking that the extraction process from the CD/DVD would be taking some resources/overhead but you are correct it might also be creating some overhead becuase it is know reading a much larger file from the optical media.

However, A person may only gain a advantage by using a hybrid and only expanding files that were compressed by a certain percentage.
Lets just say for example we only expand those files that are compressed 30% or lower. These files probably have not gained to much in size so they should see a improvement by being expanded on the CD/DVD.
We then leave the other files compressed because these files would be faster to expand on the hard drive then read the large extracted file from the CD/DVD.

I think that you are right that a persons hardware speeds will determine if you get any real speed gain.

Do you know if this would be like a Ghost image and if you get any speed gain from using them vs a Unattended CD/DVD?

If you could place the extracted Install image on your hard drive in a seperate partition and boot and run it from there than I think you would defenattly see a speed gain.

Sorry for this dumb question but why does a VMWare test show a improvement?
Have either of you tried this method in VMWare, and if so what did you think?

Thanks for the info made me think.

Edited by Araknis, 21 July 2005 - 02:10 PM.


#15
Zxian

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Sorry for this dumb question but why does a VMWare test show a improvement?
Have either of you tried this method in VMWare, and if so what did you think?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well... specifically, a VMWare test with an ISO mounted as the CD-Drive would show an improvement since transfer speeds from hard drive to hard drive are typically faster than from an optical drive. That's the way I had my two installs setup that I descibed in my previous post.

In the end, I'm not sure as to whether or not this particular part of setup would give you enough of a time bonus to justify the benefits.

Another point is that not all computers have DVD drives, so if you're hoping to install other software, expanding the entire contents of the I386 folder doesn't leave you with much room to play with (even after nLite).

#16
Araknis

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Zxian, I know that expanding the entire contents of the I386 folder may not have been that good of an idea and doing so does take up a lot of space but I just wanted to quickly test and see if it was possible to install with all of these files expand and it worked.
The files that get expanded should be optimized to what files are actually going to get installed and what ones will actually give you a possilbe speed increase.

However, this is just like how people are using hotfixes it seems that some people expand the updated files and others compress the file like the original.
I agree that a person would need to determine if expanding files is even a good idea.

Maybe, someone who knows more about the installation process such as Bâshrat the Sneaky, nuhi, or GreenMachine would know a answer.

I myself don't even know if this is that good of an idea and that is why I posted Possible. I mostly wanted to get feedback like I have been getting.
I am not even sure if a expanded installation would cause any unexpected problems with things like microsft update being able to detect and install Hotfixes. Windows File Protection, if windows keeps any of the files compressed, etc....

These Idea really needs to be examined and tested before being used in the real world.

By the way does anyone know if Longhorn will be shipped on a DVD?
If so are all the I386 files expanded, compressed, or a Hybrid?

Again Thanks for All The Feedback.

#17
Araknis

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I was looking at a txtsetup.sif guide from gosh and was wondering if we would also need to edit txtsetup.sif to reflect all of the expanded files?

http://gosh.msfnhosting.com/txtsetup.htm[/url][/url]]autofmt.exe = 1,,,,,,_x,2,0,0,,1,2
The _x means the file is not compressed on the cd.

I wonder if we are wasting some time by having the system check for the compressed file by not editing txtsetup.sif?
I don't think we would need to make any changes to dosnet.inf would we?
Does anyone know if we need to edit any other files besides txtsetup.sif?

#18
Martin Zugec

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For example for me the VMWare test was sufficient, because I am using VPCs at deployment presentations and every minute is worth :)

Also I would like to test this method for installation over network
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#19
Araknis

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Martin Zugec, I am assuming that you did end up testing in VMWare. I was just wondering if you did noticed any speedup?
I was also wondering if you modified the txtsetup.sif file or even think that it needs to be modified?

I was also wondering if you noticed or tested for any unexpected side effects?
Did you get any installation errors or any error logs created?
Were you able to install hotfies and regular applications after windows was installed.
Where you able to add and remove windows components IIS for example

I have not done any other testing other than my inital test, but have learned a lot from this experience thanks to Achdine and marek722.
And that is you can get a speedup just by switching your installation source to media with the Higher Transfer Rate.
For example just by switching from a CD to a DVD for my installation source on my DVD-Burner I would get a increase
Going from a 48X CD-ROM (7200 KB/sec) to a 16X DVD-ROM (21600 KB/sec) transfer rate.
However, a DVD is not always faster you could have a 48X CD-ROM (7200 KB/sec) and a 4X DVD-ROM (5400 KB/sec)

#20
Martin Zugec

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2Araknis: Nope, I didnt test it yet (hope so during weekend I will find some time)... I will test network installation through VPC, I will let you know
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#21
marek722

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ok, here the result of my speed test:

expanded install: 29:50
normal install: 29:37

tested with wxp sp2 unattended, no other modifications
system:
- virtual pc on Athlon XP 2800+, 320MB RAM for virtual machine
- source on DVD+RW 4x, linear read speed ~5MB/s (starting quite slow with 3x), Toshiba DVD-Rom 1702

when copying files from source there are still some cpu-cycles unused with normal install, that means the impact of this modification on current systems is very little. If you use a slower CPU expanded install could be faster than normal install with same read speed of source. Faster reading of source would improove performance of expanded install only if cpu can't cope with the amount of data to expand while normal install ...

The conclusion is only suitable when using UDMA (or nearly no CPU cycles for source reading -> some LAN-adapters can consume lot of CPU ...). Measurement must not be correct because of usage of windows drivers for accessing source while booting setup from CD/DVD - i think this process acts differently on real install.

The example with the P200MMX laptop with 10x cd-rom earlier in this thread lacks information about IDE-mode for the cd-rom, but it seams copying is a rather slow process compared to expansion of data in that example ... and it is 'only' a 200MHz CPU ... :blink:

#22
Martin Zugec

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Yep, as I said this method depends probably on scenario. Because optic mechanics are slow, I think compressed method is better for them.

However for network/image (under image I mean iso in VM) could be faster... I am really looking forward when I will give it a try :)
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#23
nuhi

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If I may pop in.

We have discussed this before on nlite's forum and came to a conclusion that compressing files into few big CAB's like driver.cab or sp2.cab would significantly speedup copy process from CD.

Something like that is done in Longhorn, if you take a look at it you'll see that it has almost all setup files in one big one which is expanded during first phase.

Since CPU's are faster today compression in this scale doesn't matter, so less to copy, compressed file, is better, in my opinion of course.
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#24
Zxian

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Thanks for the input nuhi!

I was thinking along the same lines. Decompression almost always takes less time than compression, and with any computer that can handle XP, the decompression is faster than file transfer.

#25
riverrm

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long horn installs using a sysprep'd image for initial install and therfore skips textmode completly.




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