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Create and Deploy Windows Nano Server 2016 Image

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Windows

Create and Deploy Windows Nano Server 2016 Image

The Nano Server operating system, released under Windows Server 2016, has been designed and optimized for private clouds and datacenters. To a certain degree, it is like Windows Server in Server Core mode, but the final deployment foot print is significantly smaller. It is designed to be remotely administered, as it has no local logon capability (GUI or otherwise).

It supports only 64-bit applications, tools, and agents. It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than Windows Server. The Nano Server installation option is available for Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2016.

You can get more information about Nano Server on Microsoft site: Nano Server

The process to install Nano Server is quite different than installing from either optical or USB media. Also, as of now, there’s no provision to upgrade from existing Windows Server Operating System to Nano Server 2016.

In this demo, I will show you how to create the Nano Server 2016 Image through Nano Server Image Builder and deploy the same in both Hyper-V and VMware environment.

So, let’s start…

First, download and install below tools on the system we are going to use to create the Nano Server image:

1: Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit

2: Nano Server Image Builder

Also, make sure you have Windows Server 2016 ISO or installation file which contains the NanoServer folder.

Creating Nano Server Image

1: Launch Nano Server Image Builder and click Create a New Nano Server image option.

2: Click Next.

3: Provide Windows Server 2016 media source and click Next.

Note: We have mounted the Windows Server 2016 ISO in E:\ drive, so providing location as E:\ drive.

4: Accept the License Agreement and click Next.

5: Select Virtual machine image option.

6: Provide the location for Nano Server image output files and click Next.

7: Click Next.

8: Select the Nano Server edition and Optional packages to install.

9: Click Next to continue.

Now here, you need to provide the required drivers if you are going to use this Image in VMware. If you are going to use it with Hyper-V, no need to provide the drivers here.

Since, we will be using the same image for VMware as well, we will be adding below network and storage drivers required for VMware:

  • Pvscsi
  • vmxnet3ndis5
  • vmxnet3ndis6

You can refer below link to understand the process to extract these drivers from VMware Tools:

Extracting the drivers from VMware Tools

10: Click Add button and add the drives.

11: Click Next button to continue.

12: Provide Computer name and Administrator password.

It will be the local administrator password on the Nano Server.

13: Select correct Time zone and click Next to continue.

14: If you have domain joining rights, select Join domain option.

Also, make sure to launch Nano Server Image Builder wizard using the login credentials having domain joining rights.

15: Provide the Domain name and click Next to continue.

Note: If you don’t have domain joining rights, you can select Domain blob file option, the process to harvesting blobs is mentioned in Nano Server documentation.

16: If you have DHCP enabled, select Enable DHCP to obtain and IP address automatically option otherwise provide IP address manually.

Since, we don’t have DCHP enabled in my lab environment, providing IP addresses manually.

17: Click Next to continue.

We don’t need to configure advanced settings as most of them are for developers. We can click Create basic Nano Server image option and finish the Nano Server Image Builder wizard.

However, I will select Continue to configure advanced settings option so can show you the advanced settings.

18: Click Next to continue.

19: Click Add button if you want to install the update packages and click Next to continue.

You can specify the command files to be run when Setup completes. Also, embed the files, scripts or binary files to the Nano Server image file.

20: Click Next.

21: If you want to enable EMS, select the option and click Next.

22: This tab is for developers, enabling development scenarios and debugging methods. Click Next to continue.

23: Review all the settings and click Create button.

The image creation should take around 5 minutes to complete, depends upon the number of packages you have selected.

Nano Server Image Builder also gives you the Nano Server image creation PowerShell command which you can use for Nano Server image creation.

24: Click Close button to close the wizard.

Nano Server image creation is done, the VHD file can be located at the location we provided for output files in Nano Server Image Builder wizard.

In our case, it was F:\NanoServer\NanoServer.vhd

We have got the image, now it’s time to deploy the same.

Will start with Hyper-V first.

Deploying Nano Server Image in Hyper-V

1: Copy the NanoServer.VHD file on storage which will be used while creating a new Hyper-V machine.

2: Open Hyper-V Manager, click New and select Virtual Machine option.

3: Provide a name for virtual machine and select the location to store the virtual machine.

4: Click Next button.

5: Select the generation and click Next.

Since, it’s for demo purpose, I will continue with default Generation 1.

6: Assign the memory for virtual machine and click Next.

7: Select the network adapter and click Next.

8: Select Use an existing virtual hard disk option.

9: Provide the location where Nano Server image was copied and click Next.

10: Click on Finish button to create virtual machine and close the wizard.

Virtual machine is created now. Let’s connect and start it.

Once the machine is started, you will get the login prompt. Provide the local administrator or domain credentials to login.

That’s it.

You can now go ahead and play with your new Nano Server 2016 on Hyper-V environment.

Deploying Nano Server Image in VMware

In order to deploy the Nano Server image VHD file in VMware, you need to first convert it to VMDK format. There are various tools available on internet which does this conversion.

I am using WinImage tool to convert the VHD file to VMDK. The same can be downloaded from here.

2: Select the Nano Server VHD file needs to be converted and click Open.

3: Select Create Fixed Size Virtual Hard Disk option and click OK.

4: Provide File name and select VMWare VMDK (*.vmdk) under Save as type.

5: Click on Save button.

Conversion will take around 2 minutes to complete.

6: Click OK button to finish the conversion.

7: Copy both the *.vmdk and *-flat.vmdk files to VMware datastore.

Let’s create the virtual machine in VMware. I am using VMware vSphere Client.

1: Launch VMware vSphere Client, click New and select Virtual Machine option.

2: Select Custom option and click Next.

3: Provide name to your Nano Server and click Next.

4: Select the destination storage for virtual machine and click Next.

5: Select the latest Virtual Machine version and click Next.

6: Select Windows as Guest Operating System.

7: Select Microsoft Windows Server 2016 (64-bit) as Version and click Next.

8: Select number of virtual CPUs and click Next.

I am selecting default values.

9: Configure the virtual machine memory size and click Next.

10: Select the Network Connection and select VMXNET 3 under Adapter option.

Here we have selected VMXNET 3 adapter as we have injected the VMXNET 3 drivers while Nano Server image creation in Nano Server Image Builder.

11: Click Next to continue.

12: Select VMware Paravirtual as SCSI controller and click Next.

13: Select Use an existing virtual disk option and click Next.

14: Select the Nano Server VMDK file we coped on VMware Datastore after conversion.

15: Click Next to continue.

16: Leave the options to default and click Next.

17: Review the settings and click Finish button to create the virtual machine.

18: Connect and Power On the created virtual machine.

19: Windows Nano Server will boot up. Login with local administrator or domain login credentials.

Your Nano Server is ready for use. Enjoy and explore new functionalities in it.

That’s it.

Hope this helps.

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