HomeVirtualizationVDIVDI-LAB-2018 - Part 4 - Creating a Windows server 2016 template

VDI-LAB-2018 - Part 4 - Creating a Windows server 2016 template


In this part, I will create a new VM and Install Windows server 2016, then convert it as a template. This template is the one that will be used for all the virtual servers for the lab, servers such as: Active Directory, SQL Database, vCenter, View Connection, Login VSI, and Launchers. Previously I have worked with Windows server 2012 and everything works just fine, but I think it was a perfect time for an update.

This is part 4 out of 12 of the VDI LAB series. Check out the introduction first.

The ultimate VDI deployment guide (from scratch) with VMware vSphere 6.5 and Horizon View 7.3 – 2018. 😉

1. Prerequisites

  1. ESXi host previously configured.
  2. Windows server 2016 ISO file and upload it into the local Datastore.

Important notes

  • I am using the evaluation ISO of windows server because this template is for testing purpose and I think the 180 days period will be enough.
  • Alos, the server could be rearmed up to 2 times using the following command: slmgr.vbs -rearm

I am trying to keep simple the configuration, due to the server is for different purposes. There are more thing to configure and tune to improve performance, it could be also considered (as needed):

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  • Select VMware Paravirtual SCSI controller.
  • Partition and size the installation disk
  • Place page files on a separated disk.
  • Change the Firewall (turn off) if necessary
  • Set Feedback and Diagnostic Settings to Full
  • Add Features as Telnet or others you’ll need.
  • Disable the weekly optimize option for disk defragmentation
  • Software installation. In my case, only google chrome will be installed.

2. VM Creation from ESXi host

NOTE: I decided to use ESXi Web client for this VM creation, at this point VCSA web client interface could be used as well. 

@ ESXi Web Client

  1. From Navigator, go to Virtual Machines / Create/Register VM
  2. Select Create a new virtual machine and click Next.
VM Creation from ESXi host
  1. Name your VM, (like “Win2106_Template”) and select Microsoft Windows Server 2016 (64-bit) as Guest OS version. Click Next.
Image 02 5
  1. Select datastore to store VM and click Next.
Image 03 5
  1. From Virtual Hardware tab, left CPU, RAM and Hard disk by default. (This can be modified later as required) and from Network Adapter 1, change Adapter Type to VMXNET 3.
Image 04 3
  1. Still on Virtual Hardware, select Datastore ISO file and look for the Windows 2016 server ISO.
Image 05 3
  1. From VM Options tab, go to Boot Options and check Force BIOS setup screen like the image below. Click Save.
Image 06 3
  1. Review settings and hit Finish.
Image 07 3

3. Windows Server 2016 - Installation

  1. Power on the VM. The BIOS should appear when starting the VM.
Image 08 3
  1. Go to Advanced tab, hit enter on I/O Device Configuration.
Image 09 3
  1. Disable all serial and parallel ports.
Image 10 3
  1. Go to Exit and choose Exit Saving Changes (or hit F10).
  2. The VM should boot now with the Windows Setup, left by default (or as the image below) and click Next.
Image 11 3
  1. Click Install now.
Image 12 3
  1. Select Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Evaluation (Desktop Experience). Click Next.
Image 13 3
  1. Accept license terms.
Image 14 3
  1. In "type of installation" select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).
Image 15 3
  1. Hit Next to install windows on the default drive.
Image 16 3
  1. The installation will start. Will take about 5 min and then the VM will be restarted.
Image 17 3
  1. On "Customize settings", input a password for the Administrator account. Remember to choose a strong password or you’ll get a similar message as the image below. Click Next.
Image 18 3
  1. Finally, Windows welcome page will show up.
Image 19 3

4. Windows Server 2016 - VMware tools


  1. From new VM created, right click on it and go to Guest OS / Install VMware tools. VMware tools ISO will be mounted on the Guest OS.
 Windows Server 2016 - VMware tools

@VM Guest

  1. Go to This PC and double click on Drive D: VMware Tools.
Image 21 3
  1. Double click on setup64.
Image 22 3
  1. Follow the VMware Tools Setup, select typical installation, leave everything by default, hit Install and finish.
Image 23 3
  1. After the installation is finished, reboot the server.

5. Windows Server 2016 - Configuration and Tuning

@VM Guest

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5.1 Disable Server Manager at logon

  1. From Server Manager, go to Manage / Server Manager Properties.
Disable Server Manager at logon
  1. Check Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon and click OK.
Disable Server Manager at logon

5.2 Update the server until no more patches are available.

Note: Keep updating the server regularly in order to have it ready for quick deployment.

  1. From Server Manager / Local Server, click any of the 3 options related to Windows update.
Windows update
  1. From Update status, hit Check for updates.
Windows update
  1. Wait for the updates to be downloaded and install them. Go and grab a coffee, this will take a while, more than an hour in my case.

NOTE: Install and repeat until you see no more updates

Image 28 2

5.3 Change Time zone

After updates are made and the server is rebooted, let’s change the Time zone. This can truly impact the performance of some tests, especially when working with the active directory. Time zone setup is also important for all the ESXi host in our environment.

  1. From Server Manager / Local Server, click Time zone.
Change Time zone
  1. Click Change time zone… and well, select according to yours.
Change Time zone

5.4 Change computer name

  1. From Server Manager / Local Server, click on the current computer name.
Image 31 1
  1. From the Computer Name tab, click Change.
Image 32 1
  1. Input the new name for the template and click OK.
Image 33 1
  1. Restart the VM.

5.5 Change System Properties

  1. Go back to Server Manager / Local Server and click on your new server name. Go to Advanced tab and configure Performance and Setup and Recovery option.
Image 34 1
  1. From Performance click settings, in Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for best performance, click OK.
Image 35 1
  1. Go back to Advanced tab and from Setup and Recovery click Settings and change both “Time to display...” to 5.
Image 36 1

5.6 IE configuration

  1. From Server Manager / Local Server, go to IE Enhanced Security Configuration and click on "On".
IE configuration
  1. Check Off for both options and click OK. (You might decide only to turn off Administrators).
Image 38
  1. Go to IE / Internet Option / General tab and set home page as blank (About:blank).
Image 39

5.7 Clean up backup updates and logs.

  1. Clear backups. Run command prompt as admin.
  2. Use this command: Dism.exe /online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase. This took about 15 min for me! (Grab another coffee?)
Image 40
  1. Clear all event logs. Run Windows PowerShell as admin.
  2. Us this command line: Get-EventLog -List | foreach{Clear-EventLog -LogName $_.log}
Image 41

5.8 Others (important):

  1. Disable hibernation: Open command prompt as admin and run: powercfg -h off.
Image 42
  1. Disable indexing: Right click on (C:), from General tab, uncheck Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties. Apply also to all subfolder.
Image 43
  1. From Windows Explorer / Folder Option / View, check Hidden Items.
Image 44
  1. Go to the Network Adapter and disable IPv6.
Image 45
  1. Go to Control Panel / Power Options and choose High Performance for power plan.
Image 46
  1. Install google chrome.
  2. Disconnect the ISO files.
  3. Run Sysprep
Image 47
  1. Select options as the image below:
Image 48

6. Convert VM to a template


Finally, turn the VM into a template.

Convert template….. Click Yes in the following windows.

Convert VM to a template

Here we’ll have our Windows Server 2016 template!

Windows Server 2016 template
Juan Mulford
Juan Mulford
I have been active in IT for over fourteen years now. I am a solutions architect, working with storage, virtualization, and VDI solutions. For the past ten years, I have been living and working in Taiwan.


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