Packer templates for Sitecore development with IIS, SOLR and SQL Server on Windows
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Latest commit 8969568 Aug 15, 2018

Packer for Sitecore

Contents Overview | Getting started | Usage | Next steps | Contributing | Resources

This repository contains Packer templates for a local Sitecore hosting environment with IIS and and SQL Server on Windows, SOLR and Sitecore 9.0 building virtual machine images and Vagrant boxes for VirtualBox, provisioned with Chef.



Note This section covers the details of the published [Vagrant boxes] this repository builds. See the Getting started section to build your own virtual machine images and Vagrant boxes.

This repository contains Packer templates for the following scenarios:

  • [Sitecore 9.0 hosting] using IIS, SQL Server 2016 and SOLR.

The virtual machine images and Vagrant boxes are built for VirtualBox and are provisioned using Chef.

Most of the components, including the core operating systems, share the following characteristics:

  • They are based on their publicly available versions. You might need to provide your own license(s) (for example, a valid Windows or Visual Studio license) to start or keep using them after their evaluation periods expire.
  • They are installed using their latest available versions. The latest patches (for example, all the Windows Updates) are applied as well.
  • Unless noted otherwise, they are installed using the default configuration options.

IMPORTANT! Required licenses and distributions (not included)

  • Put license.xml file to /src/components/sitecore/chef/cookbooks/scp_sitecore/files/license.xml
  • Put credentials into src/components/sitecore/chef/cookbooks/scp_sitecore/attributes/secret.rb. You can find sample next to this file.
  • Put a link to SQL Server 2016 Dev SP1 into src/components/sql/chef/cookbooks/scp_sql/attributes/2016_developer.rb

Operating systems

The following Vagrant boxes can be used for generic experiments on the respective platforms.

They contain the core operating system with the minimum configuration required to make Vagrant work, and some of the commonly used tools installed and options configured for easier provisioning. All the other Vagrant boxes below are based on these configurations as well.

  • Windows Server 2016

In the box:

  • Windows Server 2016 Standard 1607 (14393.1770)
    • Operating system
      • Administrator user with user name vagrant and password vagrant set to never expire
      • WinRM service enabled
      • UAC disabled
      • Windows Updates installed and service disabled
      • Windows Defender service disabled
      • Remote Desktop enabled
      • Generalized with Sysprep
    • Tools
    • Vagrant box
      • WinRM communicator
      • 2 CPU
      • 4 GB RAM
      • VirtualBox Port forwarding for RDP from 3389 to 33389 with auto correction

Sitecore hosting

The following Vagrant boxes can be used for Sitecore 9.0 hosting scenarios.

They contain the respective hosting tools with the default configuration are based on the core [operating systems].

  • IIS 10
    • [w16s-iis] with Windows Server 2016 Standard
  • SQL Server 2016 SP1
    • w16s-sql16d] with Windows Server 2016 Standard
  • SOLR 6.6.2
    • [w16s-solr] with Solr 6.6.2
  • Sitecore 9.0 Initial release
    • [w16s-sc900] with Sitecore 9.0.0 rev. 171002 installed via SIF
  • Sitecore 9.0 Update 1
    • [w16s-sc901] with Sitecore 9.0.1 rev. 171219 installed via SIF
  • Sitecore 9.0 Update 2
    • [w16s-sc902] with Sitecore 9.0.2 rev. 180604 installed via SIF
  • Sitecore Experience Commerce 9.0 Update-1
    • [w16s-xc901] with Sitecore Experience Commerce 9.0 Update-1 rev. 2018.03-2.1.55 installed via SIF
  • Sitecore Experience Commerce 9.0 Update-2
    • [w16s-xc901] with Sitecore Experience Commerce 9.0 Update-2 installed via SIF

Getting started

Note The rest of this document covers the details of building virtual machine images and Vagrant boxes, and assumes that you are familiar with the basics of Packer. If that's not the case, it's recommended that you take a quick look at its getting started guide.

Note Building the Packer templates have been tested on Windows hosts only, but they are supposed to run on any other platform as well, given that the actual virtualization provider (e.g. VirtualBox) supports it. Let me know if you encounter any issues and I'm glad to help.

Follow the steps below to install the required tools:

  1. Install Packer.
  2. Install the Chef Development Kit.
  3. Install the tools for the virtualization provider you want to use.

You are now ready to build a virtual machine image and a Vagrant box.

Note It is recommended to set up caching for Packer, so you can reuse the downloaded resources (e.g. OS ISOs) across different builds. Make sure you have a bunch of free disk space for the cache and the build artifacts.


Contents Building base images | Building images for distribution | Chaining builds further | Testing | Cleaning up

This repository uses some custom wrapper scripts using Cake to generate the Packer templates and the related resources (e.g. the unattended install configuration) required to build the virtual machine images. Besides supporting easier automation, this approach helps with reusing parts of the templates and the related resources, and makes chaining builds and creating new configurations quite easy.

Building base images

$ .\ci.ps1 [info]

The output will be contain the section packer-info with the list of the templates:

Executing task: packer-info
w16s-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-dotnet-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-iis-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-sql16d-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-solr-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-sc900-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-sc901-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-sc902-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-xc901-virtualbox-core: Info
w16s-xc902-virtualbox-core: Info

You can filter this further to list only the templates for a given virtual machine image type. For example, to list the templates based on the Windows Server 2016 Standard image, invoke the info command with the w16s argument:

$ .\ci.ps1 info w16s

Note You can use this filtering with all the ci.ps1 commands below as well. It selects all the templates which contain the specified argument as a substring, so you can filter for components (w16s, iis, etc.) or providers (virtualbox) easily.

The output will contain only the matching templates:

Executing task: packer-info
w16s-solr-virtualbox-core: Info

This means that this configuration supports building some base images (virtualbox-core) mainly for reusing them in other configurations, and also boxes for distribution (virtualbox-sysprep). Under the hood, the sysprep configurations will simply start from the output of the core ones, so build times can be reduced significantly.

Now, invoke the restore command with the name of the template you want to build to create the resources required by Packer. For example, for VirtualBox, type the following command:

$ .\ci.ps1 restore w16s-virtualbox-core

This will create the folder build/w16s/virtualbox-core in the root of your clone with all the files required to invoke the Packer build. This setup is self-contained, so you can adjust the parameters manually in template.json or the other resources and / or even copy it to a different machine and simply invoke packer build template.json there. Most of the time though, you just simply want to build as it is, as the templates are already preconfigured with some reasonable defaults. This can be done of course with the build script as well:

$ .\ci.ps1 build w16s-virtualbox-core

This will trigger the Packer build process, which usually requires only patience. Depending on the selected configuration, a few minutes or hours later, the build output will be created, in this case in the build/w16s/virtualbox-core/output directory in the root of your clone. Virtual machine images like this can be directly used with the respective virtualization provider or Vagrant on the host machine.

Building images for distribution

As mentioned above, based on Packer's support for starting builds from some virtualization providers' native image format, builds can reuse the output of a previous build. To build and image which can be distributed (e.g. after applying Sysprep as well), type the following command:

$ .\ci.ps1 build w16s-virtualbox-sysprep

Note that this will include restoring the build folder with the template and the related resources automatically, and then invoking the build process in a single step. It will also reuse the output of the w16s-virtualbox-core build, so it does not need to do the same steps for a Vagrant box the original build already included (e.g. the core OS installation itself, installing Windows updates, etc.). Once the build completes, the native image and the Vagrant box will be available in the build/w16s/virtualbox-sysprep/output folder.

Chaining builds further

Similarly to the process above, you can use build chaining to build more complex boxes. For example, the configuration for Windows Server 2016 Standard with IIS can be built like this:

$ .\ci.ps1 build w16s-virtualbox-core
$ .\ci.ps1 build w16s-iis-virtualbox-core
$ .\ci.ps1 build w16s-iis-virtualbox-sysprep

As in the previous w16s sample, for this configuration the w16s-iis-virtualbox-core build will start from the output of w16s-virtualbox-core instead of starting with the core OS installation. Chanining builds like this has no limitations, so you can use this approach to build images with any number of components very effectively.

Note that the script can invoke the build of the dependencies automatically, so for the previous example you can simply type:

$ .\ci.ps1 build w16s-iis-virtualbox-sysprep --recursive=true

This will in turn invoke the restore and build stages for the w16s-virtualbox-core and w16s-iis-virtualbox-core images as well. By default, restore and build is skipped if the output from a previous build exists. You can force the build to run again using the rebuild command instead, which will clean the build directories first.


To help testing the build results, the reposiory contains a simple Vagrantfile to create virtual machines using directly the build outputs.

For example, to test the core w16s configurations, from the root of your clone you can type the following command to use the box files in the build\w16s folder:

$ vagrant up w16s-core

This will import the locally built Vagrant box with the name local/w16s-core and will use that to spin up a new virtual machine for testing.

Similarly, you can test the sysprep ones as well before publishing:

$ vagrant up w16s-sysprep

When working with multiple virtualization providers, you can specify which one to use for each test machine using the command line, or define your preferences globally.

You can use the standard Vagrant commands to clean up the boxes after testing.

Cleaning up

Though the build folders are excluded by default from the repository, they can consume significant disk space. You can manually delete the folders, but the build script provides support for this as well:

$ .\ci.ps1 clean w16s-iis-virtualbox-sysprep

Using the filtering, to clean up the artifacts of all the VirtualBox builds, you can type:

$ .\ci.ps1 clean virtualbox

Omitting this parameter will apply the command to all the templates, so the following command will clean up everything:

$ .\ci.ps1 clean

Note The clean command removes only the Packer build templates and artifacts, the eventually imported Vagrant boxes and virtual machines need to be removed manually.

Next steps

Take a look at the repository of [virtual workstations] to easily automate and share your development environment configurations using the Vagrant boxes above.


Any feedback, issues or pull requests are welcome and greatly appreciated. Chek out the milestones for the list of planned releases.


This repository could not exist without the following great tools:

This repository borrows awesome ideas and solutions from the following sources: