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Now that ESXi is configured you can create your first Virtual Machine (VM). This process is fairly straight forward. However I want to go through each step of the process. I am creating a Server 2012 core installation and will add the GUI in the next post. This is a long post but at the end you will have a fully functioning VM with a server running.

Create the Virtual Machine

In vSphere right-click your host and select New Virtual Machine.

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Select Custom Configuration.

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Name the VM. Make sure you have a logical naming convention in place. I will be using Organiztion-Location-ServerType. Because this is a demo server it is the 3rd in my domain. My hostname is DAN-OAK-DC03.

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Select where you want to install the VM. In my host I only have 1 storage array. Advanced users might have their VM’s stored on a NAS or SAN. For the sake of keeping it simple I will run my VM’s on the ESXi host itself.

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Select your version of the VM. I am using 8 because this is a single ESXi host and I do not have to worry about compatibility with older versions.

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Select your OS, in my case Windows Server 2012 64-bit. Although 64-bit should be implied because there isn’t a 32-bit version of Server 2012.

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Select how many Cores you want to allocate to this machine. Both physical and virtual. For my case I am using just 1 of each. This server is just a demo and it will not be doing any heavy lifting.

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Allocate physical memory to the machine. Make sure you do not over allocate your available memory. 512 MB is the minimum for Server 2012. I am assigning 1 GB but recommend much more if this is a production server.

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Accept defaults for the Network adapter. Unless you have your ESX host doing internal switching you will want to just leave this as default.

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ESXi will auto select the type of SCSI controller.

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Since I do not have a virtual disk yet for this server I will need to create one.

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I am only going to allocate 40 GB to this server and I want to store the virtual disk with the VM. VERY IMPORTANT if space is an issue make sure you thin provision your disk. What this does is expands the virtual disk file as data is added to it up to the disk size. If you Thick provision the disk it will create a file the size of your disk taking up space that might not be needed on the physical host’s storage array. Both options have unique advantages and disadvantages. However for my case, thin provisioning is the optimum choice.

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Leave these options as default.

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On the summary of your VM before you create it, make sure to check the option for “Edit Virtual Machine Settings before…”. This will allow you to select your installation media.

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Select the CD/DVD drive. Check the box to connect at startup. This will turn the drive on when the VM starts. Select the Datastore ISO radial option. Browse to the ISO we uploaded to the datastore earlier.

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Select Memory/CPU Hotplug. Enable these. This will allow you to adjust memory and CPU while the VM is running. There are mixed reviews on the effectiveness of this feature. It is also dependent on the OS you are installing. In my case I wanted to give it a test so I am using it.

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I want to store the swap file of the VM with the VM. I do this to keep all the files related to my different VM’s stored together. This is more of a personal preference to keep things organized.

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Select Finish. You are now ready to install your OS.

Install Windows Server 2012

Boot up your VM. Run through the Server installation. Select defaults for most of the prompts except where instructed otherwise.

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Select Server Core installation.

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Create a local administrator password. Make sure you’ll remember it. To logon you might need to tweak your settings. If you use CTRL-ALT-DEL it might go to the system you’re on and not the VM. Try CTRL-ALT-Insert. If that doesn’t work you can always manually send the key stroke by selecting Inventory > Virtual Machine > Guest > Send Ctrl-Alt-del.

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Install VMware Tools

Now that Server is installed and you’re logged in all you should see is a command prompt. I usually install VMware Tools as my first step. This helps vSphere manage the server a little better. It also improves the refresh rate, as it can get very annoying managing the server through the console tab of vSphere. Select Inventory > Virtual Machine > Guest > Install/Upgrade VMware Tools.

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You will have to brush up on your command skills. Run the installer via command prompt. Use the screenshots if you get stuck.

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Set the Hostname

Lastly now that I have VMware Tools installed I want to make sure the VM’s hostname matches the Windows Server hostname. To do this I will use SCONFIG. At a command prompt type “SCONFIG”. You will a blue prompt like the one below. It will show your current hostname, or Computer Name here.

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Type the corresponding number for the function you want to perform. In this case it is 2.

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Type the new name of the system and hit Enter. I am using DAN-OAK-DC03 as my server name. It will change the name and require a reboot.

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There you are. You now have a fully functioning VM with Server 2012 Core installed. In the next post we will upgrade the server Core to full GUI using Microsoft’s add windows features.

Series Navigation<< ESXi Host Configuration Through vSphereWindows Server 2012 Core to GUI >>

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