SQL Server 2008 Slipstream Frequently Asked Questions

[Updated on Sept 15th to add question #13]

[Updated on June 12th to add an issue with the PCUSource parameter]

General slipstreaming questions:

Question #1: What is Slipstreaming?

Answer: It is a term used to describe merging original source media with updates in memory and then installing the updated files. Slipstreaming has been supported by Windows Operating systems for awhile but has just been added to SQL Server 2008 service pack 1. Slipstream allows you to go to the latest and greatest, currently service pack 1 and a CU for service pack 1. Prior to service pack, we supported just update the setup file also referred to as “Patchable Setup”. Since the release of SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1, it is recommend to use the slipstream procedures instead as patchable setup since the entire product can be updated and you will be using the latest and greatest. Any scenario (install, upgrade, addnode) that is supported by the original media is supported when slipstream.

Question #2: What is Patchable Setup?

Answer: Patchable Setup is a procedure used for updating just the SQL Server 2008 setup files prior to service pack 1.  Instruction can be found here. Patchable Setup still requires you to apply the CU after installing the product. For fixes in CU for RTM , you can use patchable setup, but if an issue is only addressed in service pack 1, you need to use the slipstream procedure. What are some examples of when I can only use slipstream in service pack 1 versus patch setup:

For an example of an issue that is fixed with patchable setup, refer to

957453 FIX: When you install SQL Server 2008, the installation fails, and the "Attributes do not match" error message is logged in the Summary.txt file


For an example of an issue that cannot be addressed using patchable setup but only with slipstream refer to:

960781 Error message when you try to upgrade to SQL Server 2008: "Wait on the Database Engine recovery handle failed"


Question #3: I have installed SQL 2008 Database Engine component to an instance and now I want to add features to this instance using slipstream. How do I add features to an existing instance?

Answer: In theory you just run the slipstream build again to add features. However, setup will fail since setup does not correct detect that it is installed and needs to be patched versus installed.  In this case, you need to add features using original media and then patch using the service pack installer. We don’t support features within an instance at different levels, so ensure features within an instance are at the same patch level.

Question #4: I have slipstreamed media, but I just want to install the original media (RTM). How can I just install the original media?

Answer: You need to use your original media.

Question #5: What if I did not copy the ia64 and x64 folders to my original media which is necessary for slipstreaming. Can I still install x86?

Answer: Technically, it will work. But we do not recommend skipping merging all architectures since at some point, a user might install one of these architectures.  If you merges x86 but not x64, you media is inconsistent. If at a later point in time, you run x64, the result will be unpredictable.

Question #6: Are there any plans to make the slipstreamed or refreshed versions of SQL Server 2008?

Answer: Not at this time for SQL Server 2008. We are considering refreshing the media in a future release.

Question #7: Can Microsoft provide a tool to automatic merge the original media and specified updates instead of following the manual procedure?

Answer: Not at this time, but we may reconsider.

Question #8: Where can I go for more information?

See the follow links for an overview:  Service Pack 1 is released and KB955392 (KB is still being updated)

See Create slipstream drop (RTM + SP1) or Create slipstream drop (RTM + SP + CU)

See blogs created by Product Support: How to fix your SQL Server 2008 setup before you run setup and How to fix your SQL Server 2008 setup before you run setup (Part II)

Question #9: Is slipstream and procedure to build a slipstream drop fully supported by Microsoft?


Question #10: I already have SQL Server 2008 instance and now I want to update to service pack 1. Do I need to use slipstream?

No, slipstream will not work when the product is already installed. For more information on updating SQL Server 2008 see here.

Question #11: Does PCUSource need to be an absolute path?

No, it can be a relative path, such as ".\PCU". However, when you launch setup.exe your current path needs to point to the setup.exe.

Question #12: I am hitting the error: “The setting ‘PCUSOURCE’ specified is not recognized.”

If you have followed the slipstream instructions, ensure the path to PCUSOURCE does not contain spaces. The setup does not handle the spaces as expected.  The quick workaround is to rename the PCUSource path so it does not contain any spaces. You can confirm this is the problem by viewing the Detail_ComponentUpdate.log located at %programfiles%\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Setup Bootstrap\Log\<last session>. Search for “PCUSource”. If you see commas in the PCUSource path, this is the issue:

     2009-06-10 11:48:47 Slp: Setting: PCUSOURCE

     2009-06-10 11:48:47 Slp: Value specified: \\Server\SQL , Server , 2008 , SP1 , Full\Enterprise\PCU

Question #13: Can I slipstream in any CU?

In general, yes.  However, you need to ensure the CU will work the original release (RTM) or SP.  For example, if you are slipstreaming Service Package 1 (SP1), then only CUs based on SP1 can be slipstreamed into the installation. If you are not slipstreaming a service pack, then you need to ensure the CU is for the original release.   


Uninstalling the Service Pack:

Question #1: After I slipstream the original media and service pack 1, and then uninstall the service pack is it the same as just install the original media?

Answer: Essentially, it is the same. However some of the components (e.g. SNAC, MSXML 6, and Setup support files) can't be rolled back. The core features: Database Engine, Reporting Services, Analysis Services, and the other shred components will be rolled back.

Major upgrade :

Question #1: Can I use slipstream to upgrade from SQL 2005 to SQL Server 2008?

Answer: Yes.

Question #2: Can I use slipstream to upgrade from SQL 2000 to SQL Server 2008?

Answer: Yes.