Tag Archives: Template

How to create and deploy a VMware VM template

A VMware VM template — also known as a golden image — is a perfect copy of a VM from which you can deploy identical VMs. Templates include a VM’s virtual disks and settings, and they can not only save users time but help them avoid errors when configuring new Windows and Linux VMs.

VM templates enable VMware admins to create exact copies of VMs for cloning, converting and deploying. They can be used to simplify configuration and ensure the standardization of VMs throughout your entire ecosystem. Templates can also be used as long-term backups of VMs. However, you can’t operate a VM template without converting it back to a standard VM.

VSphere templates can be accessed through your content library. The content library wizard will then walk you through configuration steps, such as publishing and optimizing templates. It designates roles and privileges that you can then assign to users, and it eases VM deployment options.

Best practices for Hyper-V templates

You can create and deploy VMware VM templates through Hyper-V, as well. Hyper-V templates enable users to deploy VMs quickly with greater security, such as with shielded VMs, and reduce network congestion. They rely on System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) and require specific configurations.

To create a Hyper-V template, select a base object from which you want to create the template — an extant VM template, a virtual hard disk or a VM. Assign a name to the new template and configure the virtual hardware and operating settings the deployed VM will use.

Keep in mind that not every VM is a viable template candidate. If your system partition is not the same as your Windows partition, you won’t be able to use that VM as a template source.

To create a shielded VM — one that protects against a compromised host — run the Shielded Template Disk Creation Wizard. Specify your required settings in the wizard and click Generate to produce the template disk, then copy that disk to your template library. The disk should appear in your content library with a small shield icon, which signifies that it has shielded technology.

How to create a VMware VM template with Packer

Packer is a free tool that can help you automate vSphere template creation and management. It features multiple builders optimized for VMware Fusion, Workstation Pro or Workstation Player. The vmware-iso Packer plugin builder supports using a remote ESXi server to build a template, and the vsphere-iso plugin helps you connect to a vCenter environment and build on any host in a cluster.

When you use Packer to make a VM template, you use two main file types. The JSON file makes up the template, and the autounattend.xml file automates Windows installation on your VM. Once your scripts, JSON file and autounattend file are ready, you can build a VM template in Packer. When the build is complete, Packer converts the VM to a template that you can view and deploy through PowerCLI.

Use PowerCLI to deploy a template

You can use PowerCLI to deploy new VMs from a template. Create an OS customization specification through PowerCLI to start the deployment process and to ensure that when you create your VMs from a template, you can still change certain settings to make them unique. These settings would include organization name, security identifier, local administrator password, Active Directory domain, time zone, domain credentials, Windows product key and AutoLogonCount registry key. The PowerCLI cmdlet might resemble the following:

C:> New-OSCustomizationSpec -Name ‘WindowsServer2016’ -FullName ‘TestName’ -OrgName ‘MyCompany’ -OSType Windows -ChangeSid -AdminPassword (Read-Host -AsSecureString) -Domain ‘NTDOMAIN’ -TimeZone 035 -DomainCredentials (Get-Credential) -ProductKey ‘5555-7777-3333-2222’ -AutoLogonCount 1

After your OS is customized, you can easily deploy a VM from a template or multiple VMs from the same template. Start by placing the OS customization specifications into the variable $Specs.

$Specs = Get-OSCustomizationSpec -Name ‘WindowsServer2016’

Then, use the VM template in the variable $Template.

$Template = Get-Template -Name ‘ Windows2016Template’

Finish by deploying your VM using the New-VM cmdlet and piping in your template and OS specifications.

New-VM -Name ‘Windows16VM’ -Template $Template -OSCustomizationSpec $Spec -VMHost ‘ESXiHost’ -Datastore ‘VMDatastore’

Troubleshoot VM templates

Joining a VM to an Active Directory domain can cause the system to create a computer account for the VM, which then leaves that computer account orphaned during the template creation process.

There are a few common mistakes to VM template creation and deployment that you’ll want to avoid.

Creating a VMware template directly from a VM ends up destroying the VM. Always create a clone of a VM prior to creating a template from one. Even if you create a VM solely to become a template, template creation could fail and destroy your VM. A common reason for template creation failure is trying to create a template from a Linux VM. In that case, the template creation process wants to Sysprep a VM but Sysprep is designed for Windows OSes.

You also need to ensure that the model VM you want to turn into a template isn’t domain-jointed. Joining a VM to an Active Directory domain can cause the system to create a computer account for the VM, which then leaves that computer account orphaned during the template creation process. To work around this issue, have the template itself handle the domain join and secure the library share in a way that prevents anyone other than VM admins from having access.

Finally, don’t include any preinstalled applications on a VM template. The Sysprep process often breaks such applications. You can instead use an application profile or configure a VM template to run a script for automated application installation.

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Building Hosted Web Apps with Windows App Studio

If you have a web app that’s currently available publicly via URL, you can easily bring it to Windows 10 using Windows App Studio’s Hosted Web App template. Windows App Studio is an online service that makes it easy to build an app for Windows with no coding required.  This blog post will walk you through how to create your own Hosted Web App.

With Windows App Studio, you create a native Windows 10 app in a browser by starting with a template or a blank canvas, then add information, data, services, and styling.  Once you’re finished, you generate the app as a Visual Studio solution, a sideloading package, or a publishing package that lets you reach the users of 200+ million Windows 10 devices in the Windows Store.

One of these templates is the Hosted Web App (HWA) template, which brings publicly accessible websites and web apps to Windows. It will ask you to enter the URL of your web app, add an app icon, enter settings, and get it ready to publish on the Windows Store. The process takes an absurdly short amount of time.

Things that take more time than building a Hosted Web App with Windows App Studio:

  • Checking the mail
  • Microwaving a bag of popcorn
  • Checking out at a grocery
  • Brushing your teeth (hopefully)
  • Watching an ad break during a TV show (perfect time for to make a HWA!)

So if you have 3 minutes to learn, let’s get started!

The process of creating a Hosted Web App using Windows App Studio can be broken down into four steps.

1_foursteps

Step One: Creating the project

If you haven’t already, sign up for Windows App Studio using your Microsoft account. It’s a completely free service. Once you’re signed up, navigate to the Start New Page, where you will see the option to create a Hosted Web App.

2_createyourHWA

Once you click Hosted Web App, a pop-out will appear. Enter the name you want to use for your Windows app and click Start with this one!  The device previews are simply to show approximately how the app might look on different screens.

3_nametheapp

Step Two: Configuring the app

Once you have created the project, you’ll be taken to the Content Editing screen. On this page you will enter the URL for the site you’re converting. And that’s all you really need to do.

4_themanifest

You then have the option to upload a Manifest, which is a JSON document containing information like application defaults and start-up parameters. You can also define additional URI rules and the rotation preference, but those are optional.

The preview on the right hand side of the screen shows what your Hosted Web App looks like on that type of device. If your preview doesn’t work, don’t worry. It usually just means the site doesn’t allow embedding in an iframe but should work when you generate the app.

After you enter in the URL and other information, you’re likely going to want to update the app’s icon from the default,  which is merely a placeholder. To do this, click the app icon on the navigation bar (to the right of the Content tab, highlighted below in green) to open the icon editor.

5_iconeditor

On the screen shown above, click the logo under the App logo heading (highlighted in purple above). That will open a file picker where you can select the icon you want to use. The tool will automatically generate the various icon sizes you need.

After you’ve done that, there is only one more configuration step. Click the Settings tab to edit your Store listing details such as your app’s description, language, Store association details, privacy policy, and other similar information. To publish to the Store, you must fill out the Store Association info here. For detailed instructions on publishing, please see the documentation.

6_publishtostore

Once you enter the information, click Save. Then you’re ready to finish and generate the app.

Step Three: Generating the app

When you’ve finished configuring settings, click the gray Finish button at the top. You’ll then be taken to a page where you can preview the app on different device form factors. The only thing you need to do on this page is click the big Generate button at the top. That will open a pop-out where you select the type of packages you want to generate. (The Visual Studio solution is always generated by default).

Note that in order to generate Publish packages, you’ll need to enter the Store Association details in the previous screen.

7_generatepublishpackages

After everything is ready to go, click Generate. It should take under a minute to run the generation. After that, you will have the app ready to go with the package type(s) you selected.

Conclusion

That’s everything you need to do to create a Hosted Web App in Windows App Studio.

We’d love to hear your feedback as you use the tool, so please let us know your thoughts on our User Voice and the Windows App Studio forums. Happy app building!