vSphere 5 How to setup an OS Template

I’ve been working with a good friend of mine in helping him pull his VMware home lab together.  One of the topics we discussed was the key to a good VMware Home Lab was a solid Windows 2008 R2 template.  It doesn’t need to be just Windows 2008, it could also be Windows 7 for those home lab users that want to play around with VMware View 5 🙂  If you think about it, if you are stating your home lab from scratch you need a few Windows Server instances.  You need a  Active Directory/DNS, vCenter as well as View Connection Server if you want to do View down the road.  The key to doing this quickly is to put together solid and killer Server template! 

First and foremost, creating templates is an art form !!  This blog post is not to be used as the end all, be all in regards to that.  In fact, I would love nothing more then for readers to leave comments below on tips and tricks to creating their templates.  The bare minimum for creating a Windows 2008 R2 template is to do all the hot fixes and service packs.  Start off with a clean install of Windows 2008 R2.  I normally set it up for DHCP, I don’t add it to a domain.  Then do all the fun service packs and hot fixes, that normally takes most of the day 🙂  Once that is done I normally make sure that RDP is enabled, I’ll load any sort of 3rd party applications as well as disable screen savers. I’ve also started disabling hibernation (via command line) – Microsoft has a great article here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/920730 – this is the same things you do with Windows 7 images when setting up base images in View5. 

Once you are done tweaking your Windows 2008 R2 instance, lets power it off and convert it to a template:

First things first – go to Home:Hosts-Clusters:

Select Hosts and Clusters

Next step is to choose the OS you want to convert into a template – Make sure you have powered down your OS.

Find OS to convert

Right Click on the Win2008_R2 and choose: Template-Convert To Template

right click on OS-Template-Convert to Template

Once this process starts, you can monitor it down in the recent tasks area.  Once its done, you will notice that your OS disappears from the Hosts-Clusters area:

Done with Convert Process-OS goneNow you can find it under: Home – VM’s and Template:

Click on Home-VMware and Templates

Here is the view:

Now you see your template in Home-Inventory-VMs and Templates

Now that it’s done, you can simply right click on it to “Deploy Virtual Machine from the Template” Each time you need a Win2k8 image.

right click on template and chose deploy virtual machine from this template


That was EASY PEASY RIGHT !!! I’ve used this a ton in my home lab.  It’s amazing how many things require Windows 2008 R2.  In my next blog post I’ll take you through the easy process of deploying the template and the various questions you will be asked.  Once you have this down, it will make your life in your VMware home lab a lot simpler and easier !!


3 thoughts on “vSphere 5 How to setup an OS Template

  1. Just came across this site today and was reading through some of it. Very interesting help for someone new to all of this. I have a question about what you’re suggesting as far as building templates to deploy everything from AD to vCenter. The catch seems to be that you can’t generate templates without vCenter in place, and arguably if you’re going to be setting up AD you probably want to do that before vCenter. So while there’s definitely merit in using templates, unless I’m missing something isn’t it not quite as useful for the initial setup of a home lab?

  2. I agree with all that you explained. A question I have the template has its original temporary hostname which was used during the installation of SQL server. Since I don’t know much about SQL server how do you change the hostname in the SQL server so it reflects the hostname to be used when the new server is inproduction.

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