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Configuring Windows 2008 R2 Core on VMware ESXi

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment


  • ESX(i) 4.1 or higher (as we will use the PVSCSI controller as the boot device. I use ESX 5.0 in this example.
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 iso image on a datastore.
  • The Core Configuration 2.0 (x64) iso image– This simplifies updating the drivers.

Installation Steps

Create a new Virtual Machine.

  1. Create a new VM.
  2. Select Configuration ‘Custom’.
  3. Name the virtual machine.
  4. Select a suitable datastore.
  5. Select ‘Virtual Machine Version: 8’
  6. Select Guest Operating System ‘Windows’, Version ‘Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)New_VM_-_CPUs
  7. Select the number of CPU virtual sockets and cores according to your needs.
  8. Select the amount of memory according to your needs.
  9. Set ‘How many NICs do you want to’ to how many NICs you require. Select the network and set the adapter to ‘VMXNET3’.
  10. Set the SCSI controller to ‘VMware Paravirtual’
  11. Select to create a new disk. Choose the capacity of the new virtual disk and the Disk provisioning type.
  12. Leave the advanced options to the default values.
  13. Click the ‘Edit the virtual machine settings before’ and press Continue.
  14. Go into the options tab, Advanced –> Boot Options. Select ‘EFI’ Firmware type.New_Virtual_Machine_-_Firmware
  15. In the Hardware tab, select ‘New CD/DVD (adding)’. . Tick the ‘Connect at power on’. Check the ‘Datastore ISO file:’ and press Browse. Select your ISO image. Change_DVD_Image
  16. Select ‘New Floppy (adding)’. Tick the ‘Connect at power on’. Check the ‘Use existing floppy image in datastore:’ and press Browse.
  17. Look in the ‘Datastores\vmimages\floppies’ folder and select ‘pvscsi-Windows2008.flp’
  18. Click Finish.

Install Windows 2008 R2 Core

  1. Open the VM’s console.
  2. Power on the VM.
  3. Press any key to boot from the DVD. If you miss it (it can be too quick for the console to react), press Ctrl+Alt+Insert (that sends a ctrl+alt+del to the VM. Try again.
  4. When setup has started, select you regional settings. Press Install Now.
  5. Select the Windows version.
  6. Accept the EULA.
  7. Choose a ‘Custom (advanced)’ installation.
  8. On the ‘Where do you want to install Windows?’ page, click the ‘Load Driver’ link. Press the OK button.
  9. On the ‘Select a driver to be installed.’ dialog, ensure ‘VMware PVSCSI Controller (A:\amd64\pvscsi.inf)’ and press ‘Next’ .
  10. Back in the ‘Where do you want to install Windows?’ page, ‘Disk 0’ should appear. Click ‘Next’
  11. Windows will install.

Configure Windows 2008 R2 Core

  1. Once Windows is installed, confirm the Administrator password and log on.
  2. You will be presented with a command prompt. From the VM console’s toolbar, select the ‘Connect/disconnect the CD/DVD device of the virtual machine’ button and select ‘CD/DVD drive 1’ –> ‘Disconnect from the datastore image’
  3. From the VM console’s menu bar, choose ‘VM’ –> ‘Guest’ –> ‘Install/Upgrade VMware Tools’.
  4. Run the setup program from the command prompt. Type ‘D:’ press enter, type ‘setup’ and press enter again. VMware_Tools_-_Install_Typical
  5. Install the VMware Tools using all of the default options. Allow setup to reboot the operating system once installation has completed. The NIC drivers, VMware keyboard and VMware mouse will be installed.
  6. Log back in.
  7. Select the ‘Connect/disconnect the CD/DVD device of the virtual machine’ button and choose ‘Connect to ISO image on a datastore’. Locate and choose the Microsoft Core Configuration iso image.
  8. Start Core Config by typing ‘D:’ and pressing enter, type ‘Start_Coreconfig.wsf’ and press enter.
  9. A dialog asking to install the .NET Framework and Microsoft PowerShell appears, press the ‘Yes’ button.Core-Config_-_Install_PowerShell
  10. Press the ‘Control Panel’ button, press ‘Add drivers’.
  11. Press the ‘Have Disk…’ button. Navigate to ‘C:\Program Files\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\wddm_video’ and select ‘vm3d.inf’.
  12. The updated driver driver will be installed. Exit the Core Configuration and restart the VM again. The VM restart at a higher resolution, with better mouse precision and you will be able to pass the edges of the window. The Core Configurator tool is very useful for configuring a Windows Core server, you can use it to install and remove features, configure and perform Windows updates, Remote Desktop and Remote management, computer name, domain membership, DC Promo and licensing.