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Chris Hall

Adjusting technology to make it fit my requirements...

Windows, Linux, Virtualisation, Unified Computing & Cloud Offerings Design Engineer.

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ESXi Memory Load So this little titbit got me interested:

Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 on April 27, a test build that includes Nano Server as an installation option. First announced a year ago, Nano Server is a container- and cloud-friendly version of Windows Server that dispenses with the GUI, 32-bit support and other software components that compete for CPU cycles.

This week, Microsoft has incorporated Nano Server as a deployment option on both the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5.

“It is a remotely managed option similar to Windows Server in Server Core mode, but significantly smaller, has no local logon capability, and only supports 64-bit applications, tools, and agents,” according to an online support document. “It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than Windows Server with the full desktop experience.” According to Microsoft’s estimates, Nano Server’s image is 25 times smaller than that of a full Windows Server image with desktop functionality.


Which prompted:

To which I received the following unexpected reply:

Wow!! Wasn’t expecting that :o)

For those of you unfamilliar with Jeffery Snover, take a look at: Yes, Jeffery Snover INVENTED Windows Powershell!!!

….I guess I better get playing sorry testing then!!


So first off, lets create a standard Server 2016 VM, inside of which we will build our nano server image for deployment to a second VMware VM. Ultimately we will also need the first VM to manage the nano server VM once it is up and running.

The VMs

To keep things nice and simple, I’ll name our two VMware VMs as follows:

  • 2016-MGMT - Our Nano server image build server and Hyper-V management server
  • 2016-NANO - Our Nano Server VM itself

I’m using VMware Workstation 12 for the moment. I will keep the testing on ESXi for another day.

2016-MGMT VM Install

All standard stuff. For the VMware VM configuration (I used Windows 10 x64 in the VM’s guest O/S config):

VM Config

Hookup 2016 Server Tech Preview 5 iso image and boot the 2016-MGMT VM:

2016 TP5 Welcome

As this VM is going to be our nano build and management VM, lets go for the full desktop experience:

2016 TP5 Which Install

Let the install complete, and thats that for the time being.

Nano Server Image Build

Logon to 2016-MGMT and complete the following:

Copy \NanoServerImageGenerator folder in the Windows Server Technical Preview ISO to a folder on your hard drive. I copied mine to C:\NanoServerImageGenerator

Start Windows PowerShell as an administrator and cd to C:\NanoServerImageGenerator

Tweak the execution policy: Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Import the NanoServerImageGenerator Powershell module: Import-Module .\NanoServerImageGenerator.psd1 -verbose

Issue the following command to create the Nano Hyper-V boot image: New-NanoServerImage -Edition Standard -DeploymentType Host -MediaPath d:\ ` -TargetPath .\2016-NANO.vhd -ComputerName 2016-NANO -OEMDrivers -Compute

-Edition Standard or Datacenter - In our case Standard
-DeploymentType Host or Guest - In our case Host
-MediaPath specifies a path to the root of the contents of the Technical Preview ISO - In our case d:\
-TargetPath specifies a path, including the filename and extension, where the resulting VHD or VHDX will be created. In our case the current folder
-ComputerName is the computer name for the Nano Server you are creating. In our case “2016-NANO”
-OEMDrivers Basic drivers for a variety of network adapters and storage controllers. This is the same set of drivers included in a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview
-Compute enables the Hyper-V role

Which looks like this:

Powershell Output

Looking in the folder, we can see we have indeed created a 2016 Nano Server image:

Folder of files

OK, so we have a Windows .vhd virtual disk file. How can we convert this to a VMware .vmdk virtual disk file?

Easy! Use WinImage to convert the disk file.

Install WinImage on to 2016-MGMT VM, Open WinImage, click “Disk” and “Convert Virtual Hard Disk Image”, Select file type “Virtual Hard Disk (.vhd)” under file type field, open the 2016-NANO.vhd file, select “Create Fixed Size Virtual Hard Disk”, Select file type “VMware VMDK (.vmdk)” under file type field. Choose the folder where the destination virtual disk will be created, type the virtual disk name and then click “Save”.

Give it time to convert:

WinImage Convert

Copy out the resulting .vmdk file to the host system.

2016-NANO VM Config

Simply create another VM called 2016-NANO with the same hardware make up as 2016-MGMT (as detailed above), however when prompted to create a new virtual disk, select “use existing virtual disk” and point the VMware VM creation wizard to the .vmdk file created using WinImage earlier.

Before starting the 2016-NANO VM for the first time, there is a quick tweak needed to allow us to run Hyper-V VMs under VMware Workstation. That is we need to enable the visualisation engine in the VM’s settings within VMware:

Enable Virtualisation Engine


Time to power on the the 2016-NANO VM to see if it runs….

It runs!


Next time: Configuring the 2016-NANO’s networking and managing it from our 2016-MGMT VM.