Best Practices: Creating images from virtual machines


  • After reading the forum for some time, the community has convinced me to attempt to start creating my images from virtual machines. I've downloaded Windows Virtual PC on my Windows 7 machine just for testing purposes; we have VMware in the environment, and once I have a handle on it, I will "migrate" to that infrastructure.

    I was just curious about best practices concerning creation of images from a virtual, as well fundamental differences between creating from a virtual vs. actual hardware.

    So far, I've managed to create a new VM, boot into WinPE using a disc (painful, since I'm used to using a bootable USB, and there doesn't appear to be an option for that), and I'm installing Windows XP SP3. (In the task sequence, I selected the "Nothing" selection profile for the Inject Drivers step, assuming drivers will be added as needed during deployment to actual machines.)

    Any pointers I should have? Snags I should be aware of? General advice is very much welcome as well.

    I'm using MDT2010 and my server is a Windows 2003 R2 virtual. I'm using 32-Bit Windows 7 as my "host" machine for Windows Virtual PC.
    Thursday, March 11, 2010 7:18 PM

All replies

  • I highly recommend using virtual machines for your reference images, wither vmware or hyper-v... I would not use Virtual PC for performance reasons (its painfully slow)

    / Johan
    Thursday, March 11, 2010 7:46 PM
  • I've been using VMs for a long while now to create my base images and it's simplified things tremendously from the old Symantec Ghost days.  I have 1 image for each OS and they're all completely hardware independant and with MDT they can be pushed with ease to any of our 8 remote locations.

    We use Hyper-V almost exclusively with only 2 ESX servers running some of our linux boxes for various tasks.  I run Windows Server 2008 R2 w Hyper-V enabled and use it to create my images and make revisions to those as well.

    I can give you TONS of advice but a general idea of what your overall goals would be and the type of automation you want will determine which route(s) to take.  Can you provide a little more detail in that regard?

    Here's my situation and build steps.   WDS, MDT2010, Hyper-V server (free), WSUS, AD, and Server 2008 R2 w Hyper - V (my desktop)

    (XP example)
    1. Mount an XP ISO to the VM and set it to boot
    2. Set properties on VM to run with Dual processors so the proper HAL is installed and will work on anything i push the image to.
    3. Start up the VM and install the OS w all patches (WSUS takes care of all of this tedious work)
    4. Install Integrated Services
    5. Keep applications to a bare minimum as this is just a base image for every machine in your environment that is to run XP.  Let MDT2010 push the apps for make/model or roles.
    6. Customize OS
    7. Run CCleaner (free app to clean up all temp files and uninstall KB files)
    8.  Copy default user profile over
    9. At this point i'm ready to sysprep but right before i do i create a snapshot.
    10. sysprep

    If i ever need to tweak the build I revert the VM to the snapshot (current state of the VM would be sysprep'd so this is a must), tweak the build, snapshot, sysprep, capture.

    I can't begin to express how much easier my life is with taking this route.  There are other ways of doing it with different virual platforms but you wind up with the same thing.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010 8:31 PM
  • Definitely build your reference image with a virtual machine. I prefer using VMware workstation to have a contained environment to work in for building my images. Hypver-V is also a nice alternative if you have the technology, we do not. :(

    You will have less conflict when deploying your capture image build from a VM to other hardware.
    Thursday, March 11, 2010 8:46 PM
  • Thursday, March 11, 2010 10:09 PM
  • PnoT00

    Question I am using Hyper V to capture my XP image and I have done this successful but have not yet deployed the captured image to a physical computer. Before I try this I am would like to know if you make any changes to the default hardware settings? I noticed a option of Processor Compatibility  do you check the box? Do you have any problems deploying your image to a dual processor computer?


    Friday, September 03, 2010 7:23 AM