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Windows Templates for Packer

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This repository contains Windows templates that can be used to create boxes for Vagrant using Packer (Website) (Github).

This repo is a modified fork of the popular joefitzgerald/packer-windows repo.

Some of my enhancements are:

  • Support of fullscreen Retina display on a MacBook Pro.
  • WinRM, no more OpenSSH

Packer Version

Packer 1.6.0 is recommended.

Windows Versions

The following Windows versions are known to work (built with VMware Fusion Pro 11.0.2):

You may find other packer template files, but older versions of Windows doesn't work so nice with a Retina display.

Windows Editions

All Windows Server versions are defaulted to the Server Standard edition. You can modify this by editing the Autounattend.xml file, changing the ImageInstall>OSImage>InstallFrom>MetaData>Value element (e.g. to Windows Server 2012 R2 SERVERDATACENTER).

To retrieve the correct ImageName from an ISO file use the following two commands.

PS C:\> Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath C:\iso\Windows_InsiderPreview_Server_2_16237.iso
PS C:\> Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath e:\sources\install.wim

ImageIndex       : 1
ImageName        : Windows Server 2016 SERVERSTANDARDACORE
ImageDescription : Windows Server 2016 SERVERSTANDARDACORE
ImageSize        : 7,341,507,794 bytes

ImageIndex       : 2
ImageName        : Windows Server 2016 SERVERDATACENTERACORE
ImageDescription : Windows Server 2016 SERVERDATACENTERACORE
ImageSize        : 7,373,846,520 bytes

Product Keys

The Autounattend.xml files are configured to work correctly with trial ISOs (which will be downloaded and cached for you the first time you perform a packer build). If you would like to use retail or volume license ISOs, you need to update the UserData>ProductKey element as follows:

  • Uncomment the <Key>...</Key> element
  • Insert your product key into the Key element

If you are going to configure your VM as a KMS client, you can use the product keys at These are the default values used in the Key element.

Using existing ISOs

If you have already downloaded the ISOs or would like to override them, set these additional variables:

  • iso_url - path to existing ISO
  • iso_checksum - md5sum of existing ISO (if different)
packer build -var 'iso_url=./server2016.iso' .\windows_2016.json

Windows Updates

The scripts in this repo will install all Windows updates – by default – during Windows Setup. This is a very time consuming process, depending on the age of the OS and the quantity of updates released since the last service pack. You might want to do yourself a favor during development and disable this functionality, by commenting out the WITH WINDOWS UPDATES section and uncommenting the WITHOUT WINDOWS UPDATES section in Autounattend.xml:

<SynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
    <CommandLine>cmd.exe /c C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -File a:\openssh.ps1 -AutoStart</CommandLine>
    <Description>Install OpenSSH</Description>
<SynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
    <CommandLine>cmd.exe /c a:\microsoft-updates.bat</CommandLine>
    <Description>Enable Microsoft Updates</Description>
<SynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
    <CommandLine>cmd.exe /c C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -File a:\openssh.ps1</CommandLine>
    <Description>Install OpenSSH</Description>
<SynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
    <CommandLine>cmd.exe /c C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -File a:\win-updates.ps1</CommandLine>
    <Description>Install Windows Updates</Description>

Doing so will give you hours back in your day, which is a good thing.

Windows 7 support

Windows 7 is going out of support in January 2020, and the scripts for building Windows 7 machines are only sporadically maintained.

Windows 7 was first released in 2009. This means there are a lot of updates available for Windows 7, and running Windows Updates on a Windows 7 box using the mechanism described above takes an extremely long time.

The Windows 7 templates therefore take a slightly different approach, first installing Service Pack 1, updating the servicing stack and then installing the latest update rollup, .NET 4.8 and PowerShell 5.1. Finally, any missing updates are installed using Ansible.

This means you'll need to install Ansible on your machine if you want to run the Windows 7 scripts. You can install ansible on a Linux machine.

If you want to run these scripts on a Windows machine, you can try to run Ansible in cygwin or Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. Alternatively, you can disable the ansible steps in the windows_7.json file. Make sure to manually run Windows Update if you do!


These boxes use WinRM. There is no OpenSSH installed.

Hyper-V Support

If you are running Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 or later, then you can also use these packerfiles to build a Hyper-V virtual machine. I have the ISO already downloaded to save time, and only have Hyper-V installed on my laptop, so I run:

packer build --only hyperv-iso -var 'hyperv_switchname=Ethernet' -var 'iso_url=./server2016.iso' .\windows_2016_docker.json

Where Ethernet is the name of my default Hyper-V Virtual Switch. You then can use this box with Vagrant to spin up a Hyper-V VM.

Generation 2 VMs

Some of these images use Hyper-V "Generation 2" VMs to enable the latest features and faster booting. However, an extra manual step is needed to put the needed files into ISOs because Gen2 VMs don't support virtual floppy disks.

  • windows_server_insider.json
  • windows_server_insider_docker.json
  • windows_10_insider.json

Before running packer build, be sure to run ./make_unattend_iso.ps1 first. Otherwise the build will fail on a missing ISO file

hyperv-iso output will be in this color.

1 error(s) occurred:

* Secondary Dvd image does not exist: CreateFile ./iso/windows_server_insider_unattend.iso: The system cannot find the file specified.

KVM/qemu support

If you are using Linux and have KVM/qemu configured, you can use these packerfiles to build a KVM virtual machine. To build a KVM/qemu box, first make sure:

  • You are a member of the kvm group on your machine. You can list the groups you are member of by running groups. It should include the kvm group. If you're not a member, run sudo usermod -aG kvm $(whoami) to add yourself.
  • You have downloaded the iso image with the Windows drivers for paravirtualized KVM/qemu hardware. You can do this from the command line: wget -nv -nc -O virtio-win.iso.

You can use the following sample command to build a KVM/qemu box:

packer build --only=qemu --var virtio_win_iso=./virtio-win.iso ./windows_2019_docker.json

Parallels support

In case you're using Parallels, you can now build the Windows Server 2019 with Docker VM.


You can use the following sample command to build a Parallels VM:

packer build --only=parallels-iso windows_2019_docker.json

The Parallels builder config turns efi boot off in order to use the same answer file like all the other builders. If you find you need to turn efi boot on then make sure to adjust the appropriate answer file, especially the section regarding the partitioning of the disk. If you need to further customize the VM, consult the documentation at

Using .box Files With Vagrant

The generated box files include a Vagrantfile template that is suitable for use with Vagrant 1.7.4+, but the latest version is always recommended.

Example Steps for Hyper-V:

vagrant box add windows_2016_docker
vagrant init windows_2016_docker
vagrant up --provider hyperv


Pull request are welcome!

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