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Packer vmware-iso builder on ESXi without DHCP

When you are building Windows Server 2012 R2 base images (vSphere Templates) using packer on vSphere (using vmware-iso packer builder); the process usually relies on the windows server to get an IP address automatically via DHCP. This allows the packer builder to then communicate to the server over WinRM and complete the provisioning.

What happens when there is no DHCP available in your vSphere VM Network?

The easy solution is to have the bootstrap of the windows server set a static IP for the server.
This would allow the packer builder to then communicate to the server over WinRM and complete the provisioning.
I already provide an Autounattend.xml to the windows server via the packer floppy_files stanza for the vmware-iso builder.

These user variables are populated with the environment specific floppy files:

I pass the config json file into the packer build command as shown below. This allows us to pass in different config per environment to the same build template for packer.

packer.exe build -var-file=Config-VMWare.json .\PackerBaseWin2012R2-VMWare.json

The Autounattend.xml executes the file a:\vmware-userdata.ps1 as the last step of the FirstLogonCommands setting of the Autounattend process.

The script for this particular environment then uses powershell cmdlets to configure the required static IP address allocated to the Packer Build VM:

Note: If you don’t wait long enough for the boot process to complete; the vmware-iso builder may detect the self assigned IP (169.x.x.x) prior to the userdata script setting the Static IP.
To solve this you can set the vmware-iso builder boot_wait to wait a bit longer, e.g. 10 mins.

This solves how to use packer on vSphere for Windows Server 2012 R2 bootstrapping where you don’t have a DHCP server on the subnet.

Windows 10 UEFI USB Boot in VMWare Fusion 7

You’ve downloaded your purchased Windows 10 ISO from Microsoft, and you’ve managed to create a bootable UEFI USB stick.
Now you’ve decided to run Windows 10 in VMWare Fusion Pro on your Mac. Yet the USB stick can NOT be booted from.
There is a solution. VMWare fusion has some (unsupported) EFI options you can enable to effect a USB boot.
First you’ll want to create a Windows 10 VM in VMWare Fusion.
Create a new VM, and select the more options icon:
Select Create a custom virtual machine and select Continue:
Select Windows 10 as the operating system, and select Continue – x64 is selected here as I’m 64 bit all the way:
Leave the virtual disk options and select Continue:
On the Summary Screen, you can use the Customize Settings button to change your VM defaults. I updated my RAM to 8GB, my CPU Cores to 2, and changed the VM Disk size to 100GB (60GB may be a bit small for most power users).
Before you start the VM; you’ll need to modify the vmx file directly.

  1. In the Virtual Machine Library, right click on the Windows 10 VM and select Show in Finder.
  2. Right click on the vmwarevm container and select Show Package Contents
  3. Edit the *.vmx file using your favourite text editor
  4. Append the following options to the configuration to enabled EFI booting:

firmware = "efi"
efi.legacyBoot.enabled = "true"

The Legacy boot option allows VMWare to see the USB device in some cases; and was required for me.
Boot your new VM:
You’ll find that the new EFI boot loaders are picked up, but not yet the USB. Since you couldn’t attach a USB before starting, you can do it now. Open the VM preferences and attach the USB containing the EFI Boot files:
VMWare will now boot into the Windows 10 setup.
Thanks to a post by A Virtual Den for pointing me in the right direction for the VMX LegacyBoot option!