Friday, November 12, 2010

Vmware Windows 2008 R2 template

Having been playing around for some time now with Vmware templates and Windows 2008 R2 integration, I have decided to give credit to the few sites that have helped me and that shared their experience of preparing a template I could easily use as a master for my future VM deployments.

This is a very complete resource, which comes with a full explaination of disk partitioning and of issues related to the component folder Winsxs...
It has also a downloadable unattend.xml file (which is pretty cool because you would have had to donwload the huge WAIK...). Thanks Jason! This guide is just a little bit unclear about the last steps of the Sysprep part, especially where it says 'Leave shutdown option as reboot'. I think it is much better to have the master VM to shutdown itself. After sysprep finishes running and the system shuts down, it is mandatory not to restart the server. Upon reboot, sysprep will run its commands and you will have a new system. If you do this, you just lost your template, unless you had taken a snapshot. What I want also to point out is that this guide is written for Windows 2008 R2 STANDARD. If you are preparing a template for Windows 2008 R2 ENTERPRISE remember to change the policy for SAN disks. This is mandatory otherwise your pagefile disk will be offline after rebooting and you will get an error message saying that 'the disk is offline because of policy set by an administrator'.

This is also a good resource, but still, the last part of sysprep is undercovered to me. The unattend.xml file here is not enclosed but, and this is very useful, OS image pointers are listed for all Windows versions, and not just for the Standard version, so you can find also the pointer to Windows 2008 R2 ENTERPRISE (which is "Windows Server 2008 R2 SERVERENTERPRISE").

This is the first post ever written on the subject and therefore it deserves the highest award. The post is more about Windows 2008 R1, but updates have been added by Jeremy afterhand to cover also Windows 2008 R2. The post very well developed and is full of screenshot that makes easier to follow the procedure. tTanks Jeremy!

This post is the only one to cover the full usage of WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) from Microsoft and doesn't just present an extract of unattend.xml. It is also the best post to describe the sysprep procedure and its risks (which could be underestimated by an unexperienced administrator). If you have a KMS License Server in your domain you do not need to follow all the steps proposed, but, nonetheless, you will get a better insight of Windows behaviour if you read it all.

My last though is that no one of these posts gives a solutions to the two most common issues a have had with cloning Windows 2008 R2:

  • the QOS, link-layer and IPv6 settings getting lost for the network card. My opinion about this problem is that sysprep creates a new VirtualNic and all the old setting are washed away. I am still lokking for a way to fix them down or to paass them to the new NIC.
  • the secondary disks showing as offline under Disk Management: I have found a solution to this. If you are using the Enterprise or Datacenter edition, just run diskpart and change the san disk policy as explained here.

Happy reading!


  1. I am disabling IP6 via registry.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I did not know about this registry key! I will update this post to include this piece of information.

  3. Does anyone know why, when deploy my template, the mouse in the new server is choppy and slow. The tools are isntalled, and the wddm_video driver is installed. Cannot determine why it is doing this.

    1. Yep - this is a relatively easy fix. Change the display driver. Choose have disk and browse to C:\Program Files\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\wddm_video

      That should make thinfs run smooth

  4. Disabling IPv6 etc.? Use nvspbind in the RunSync (or ASync) of the Specialise pass of your Unattend.xml.
    e.g., For Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) use "nvspbind -d * ms_tcpip6".
    Got the idea (albeit for S2012) from here;

  5. sysprep power horse


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