Network Administrator Knowledgebase

Apr 25 2008   5:06PM GMT

Running Windows 2008 Server core under VMware

Michael Khanin Michael Khanin Profile: Michael Khanin

One of the first software that I install on any OS under VMWARE is VMware Tools. The most important benefit is the VMware enhanced video and mouse drivers. On VMware ESX, VMWare tools must be installed to get the NIC working. The Installation process of VMware Tools on Windows 2008 Server Core edition is a bit tricky. As far as you remember, Server Core it is a command line only version of Windows Server 2008. VMWareTools is a GUI installation so this is not an option for Server Core. Today we have few workarounds :)Solution 1

  • Log into your Windows Server 2008 Server Core VM with an admin account
  • From the VMware Workstation console, click the VM menu Install VMware Tools. This will mount the VMware Tools disk (Windows. iso file) in the virtual CD-Rom drive.
  • Switch to drive D: (or whatever drive is your CD drive)
  • Type Setup and press Enter
  • Click Install to the VMware informational message. The VMware Tools will begin to setup.
  • Click Next to install
  • Click Next to perform a Typical setup
  • Click Install to begin the installation
  • When you see the status stall, open Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Ins Start Task Manager)
  • Click the Applications tab, select the RUNDLL process and choose End Task
  • Close Task Manager and click OK to any error messages. Setup will continue as normal.
  • Click Finish and click Yes to restart the server
  • When Windows Server 2008 Server Core starts up, it will be in 640×480 resolution. As a quick solution, read my “CoreConfigurator – Graphic Management Tool  for Windows Server 2008 Core” post to explain how to configure the resolution in Windows 2008 Server Core :).

Solution 2

  • First step, On Server Core we need to mount the VMware Tools ISO by selecting the “Install VMware Tools” option:
  • From a command line run the following command:

    msiexec / i “d:\VMware Tools. msi” / qn

Solution 3
This solution a specially for VMware ESX Server. The workaround is to transfer VMWareTools (contained in a file called windows.iso) from your ESX server to a local drive. Use Virtual Center to mount the windows.iso file as a CDROM drive in the Windows 2008 Server Core VM. The exact location of driver is: \ Program Files\VMWare\VMWare Tools\Drivers\VMXNet\w2k of the windows.iso file. The command used to install the drivers is:

C:\Windows\System32> pnputil – i -a vmxnet. inf

You should get the following message:

Microsoft PnP Utility
Processing inf : vmxnet. inf
Successfully installed the driver on a device on the system.
Driver package added successfully.
Published name : oem2. inf

The next step is to set “Hardware Acceleration” for the display adaptor to “Full”. Well, you have to use Registry.
Launch the Registry editor on the command prompt by typing “ regedit”. Then you navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Video\{81E0A29D-B654-4848-9421-BEA1C8A6F938}000

The long number is a GUID and it will be different on your system. You should find Acceleration.Level key in the 0000 folder. To be sure that you’ve found a correct key check in the same location key “Device Description” with a value “VMware SVGA II“. You have to set the Acceleration.Level key value to 0.

Exit from registry and reboot your server.

The END :).

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