Are you Slipstreaming? The Very Best Way to Install SQL Server!

Somehow, I didn’t know about slipstreaming installations of SQL Server until last week. I heard about them at SQLPASS in Allan Hirt’s session on installing SQL Server 2008 on Windows 2008 clusters.

What’s Slipstreaming?

Slipstreaming is creating a single installation directory and process for installing SQL Server along with any Service Packs (SP) and/or Cumulative Update (CU). You can use unattended installation files with a slipstream installation, just like normal.

So in other words, you get a single, smooth, optimized install, completely configurable to run from the command line!

I love imaging, but I like this even better because it’s easy for me to keep different configuration files for standalone vs clustered installs, and the installation works on different hardware profiles. Every time I want to move to a new SP and/or CU, I can quickly and easily create a slipstream drop with that CU. And I can share my slipstream drop and configuration files with my development teams so that labs are built out in the exact same way.  (This last bit is only advisable when you provide your account and password information at the command line at install time, and don’t store it in your config file.)

How Do I Slipstream?

For instructions, see these posts on the SQL Server setup blog by Peter Saddow:

Here is a CSS blog post by Bob Ward including information and referencing the two posts above:

Allan Hirt’s great blog is here: http://www.sqlha.com/

And lastly, here is the SQL Server Release Services team blog, which is the best place to keep up on current SP and CU info.

Update 11/10: Added link to Slipstream FAQ Blog post.

Photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/frank_steele/ / CC BY-ND 2.0