Creating a Windows Stemcell for vSphere

Beta Feature

We have introduced functionality in stembuild to improve the process of creating Windows stemcells for on-premise vSphere set-up. Currently, these instructions only provide the steps to create a Windows Stemcell for vCenter-based environments.

This topic describes how to create a Windows Stemcell for vSphere.

Overview

To create a BOSH stemcell for Windows on vSphere, do the following:

  1. Create a Base VM for the BOSH Stemcell
  2. Install Windows Updates
  3. Clone the Base VM
  4. Construct the BOSH Stemcell
  5. Package the BOSH Stemcell
  6. Upload the BOSH Stemcell to Ops Manager

Note

If you already have a BOSH stemcell for Windows on vSphere, see Monthly Stemcell Upgrades

Prerequisites

  • A vSphere environment
  • A Windows Server, version 1709, Windows Server, version 1803 or Windows Server, version 2019 ISO
  • stembuild from a release in stembuild that corresponds to the operating system of your local host and the stemcell version that you want to build
  • Microsoft Local Group Policy Object Utility (LGPO) downloaded to the same folder as your stembuild

Step 1: Create a Base VM for the BOSH Stemcell

This section describes how to create, configure, and verify a base VM for Windows from a volume-licensed ISO.

Upload the ISO

To upload the Windows Server ISO to vSphere, do the following:

  1. Log in to the vSphere Web Client.

    Note: The instructions in this topic are based on vSphere 6.0.

  2. Click Storage and select a datastore.
  3. Select or create a folder where you want to upload the Windows Server ISO.
  4. Click Upload a File and select the Windows Server ISO.

You can use the scp utility instead of the vSphere Web Client to copy the file directly to the datastore server.

Create and Customize a Base VM

To create and customize a base VM, do the following:

  1. In the vSphere Web Client, click the VMs and Templates view to display the inventory objects.
  2. Right-click an object and select New Virtual Machine > New Virtual Machine.
  3. On the Select a creation type page, select Create a new virtual machine and click Next.
  4. On the Select a name and folder page, do the following:
  5. Enter a name for the VM.
  6. Select a location for the VM.
  7. Click Next.
  8. On the Select a compute resource page, select a compute resource to run the VM and click Next.
  9. On the Select storage page, do the following:
  10. Select a VM Storage Policy.
  11. Select the destination datastore for the VM configuration files and virtual disks.
  12. Click Next.
  13. On the Select compatibility page, for the Compatible with configuration setting, select ESXi 6.0 and later and click Next.
  14. On the Select a guest OS page, do the following step:
  15. For Guest OS Family, select Windows.
  16. For Guest OS Version, select Microsoft Windows Server 2019. If Microsoft Windows Server 2019 is not available, select Microsoft Windows Server 2016.
  17. Click Next.
  18. On the Customize hardware page, configure the VM hardware using the information below and click Next.
  19. For New Hard disk, specify 30 GB or greater.
  20. For New CD\DVD Drive, do the following: 1. Select Datastore ISO File. 1. Select the Windows Server ISO file you uploaded to your datastore and click OK. 1. Enable the Connect At Power On checkbox.
  21. Review the configuration settings on the Ready to complete page and click Finish.

Install Windows Server

To install Windows Server on the base VM, do the following:

  1. After creating the VM, click Power > Power On in the Actions tab for your VM.
  2. Select Windows Server Standard.
  3. Select Custom installation.
  4. Complete the installation process and enter a password for the Administrator user.

Verify OS

To verify that you are using the correct OS version, run the following PowerShell command on the base VM:

[System.Environment]::OSVersion.Version

The output should display the following:

[System.Environment]::OSVersion.Version
Major    Minor    Build    Revision
----     ----     -----    --------
10        0       17763    0

Install VMware Tools

To install VMware Tools on the base VM, do the following:

  1. In the vSphere Web Client, right-click the base VM and select Guest OS > Install VMware Tools.
  2. Navigate to the D: drive and run setup64.exe.
  3. Restart the VM to complete the installation.

Step 2: Install Windows Updates

Install Windows updates on the base VM using your preferred procedure. For example, you can install Windows updates by following the steps below. This procedure requires internet access.

  1. On the base VM, run the SConfig utility.
  2. Select Download and Install Updates.
  3. Enter A to search for all updates.
  4. For Select an option, enter A to install all updates.

You may need to restart the base VM while installing the updates.

Step 3: Clone the Base VM

To clone the base VM, do the following in the vSphere Web Client:

  1. Power down the base VM.
  2. Right-click the base VM.
  3. Select Clone > Clone to Virtual Machine. This clone is your target VM.
  4. Save the base VM. You will run Windows updates on this VM for future stemcells.

Step 4: Construct the BOSH Stemcell

Note

The target VM must be routable from your local host. Before running the construct command, ensure you are logged out of the target VM.

To construct the BOSH stemcell, run the following command from your local host:

./STEMBUILD-BINARY construct -vm-ip 'TARGET-VM-IP' -vm-username 'TARGET-USERNAME' -vm-password 'TARGET-VM-PASSWORD' -vcenter-url 'VCENTER-URL' -vcenter-username 'VCENTER-USERNAME' -vcenter-password 'VCENTER-PASSWORD' -vm-inventory-path 'INVENTORY-PATH'

Where:

  • STEMBUILD-BINARY is the stembuild file for the version of your local host operating system and the version of the stemcell that you want to build. For example, stembuild-windows-2019-2.
  • TARGET-VM-IP is the IP address of your target VM.
  • TARGET-USERNAME is the username of an account with Administrator privileges.
  • TARGET-VM-PASSWORD is the password for the Administrator account. The password must be enclosed in single quotes.
  • VCENTER-URL is the URL of your vCenter.
  • VCENTER-USERNAME is the username of your account in vCenter.
  • VCENTER-PASSWORD is your password. The password must be enclosed in single quotes.
  • INVENTORY-PATH is the vCenter inventory path to the target VM.

Warning

This operation may take up to an hour to complete and results in a powered-off target Windows VM in your vSphere environment. During construct execution, the WinRM connection terminates. This behavior is expected, and the construct command is still being executed. Do not attempt to re-run the construct command.

If you want to view the status of construct, you can log in to the target VM and do the following:

  1. Start PowerShell.
  2. Run the following command:

    Get-Content -Path "C:\provision\log.log" -Wait
    

Step 5: Package the BOSH Stemcell

To package the BOSH stemcell, run the following command from your local host:

./STEMBUILD-BINARY package -vcenter-url 'VCENTER-URL' -vcenter-username 'VCENTER-USERNAME' -vcenter-password 'VCENTER-PASSWORD' -vm-inventory-path 'INVENTORY-PATH'

Where:

  • STEMBUILD-BINARY is the stembuild file for the version of your local host operating system and the version of the stemcell that you want to build. For example, stembuild-windows-2019-2.
  • VCENTER-URL is the URL of your vCenter.
  • VCENTER-USERNAME is the username of your account in vCenter.
  • VCENTER-PASSWORD is your password. The password must be enclosed in single quotes.
  • INVENTORY-PATH is the vCenter inventory path to the target VM.

Note: This command creates a stemcell on your local host in the folder where you ran the command and may take up to 30 minutes to complete.

Monthly Stemcell Upgrades

After Microsoft releases operating system updates, you should upgrade your BOSH stemcell. Microsoft typically releases Windows updates on the second Tuesday of each month.

To upgrade your BOSH stemcell, do the following:

  1. Install Windows Updates on the base VM.
  2. Clone the Base VM.
  3. Construct the BOSH Stemcell.
  4. Package the BOSH Stemcell.
  5. Deploy the updated stemcell with BOSH.