Cloud Lab-20: How to Build a vSphere Environment – “Sysprep for VM Customization”

We have reached our last post of basic configuration of “How to Build a vSphere Environment” Lab Section. just for quick recall this is what we have covered so far in this Lab section.

How to Build a vSphere Environment – “vCenter User Management and Identity Source”
How to Build a vSphere Environment – “ESXi Basic Configuration”
How to Build a vSphere Environment – “Basic Network Configuration”
How to Build a vSphere Environment – “Storage (ISCSI/NFS) Configuration”
How to Build a vSphere Environment – “Host Profile Configuration”

In this post i am going to configure sysprep which we later use for VM Customization (Cloning).


In this Lab we will perform following tasks

  1. Sysprep File Placement.
  2. Create Customization Specification.

Step 1:  Sysprep file placement.

In order to create customized Windows 2003 and earlier virtual machines (VMs) the Microsoft Sysprep tools need to be added to VMware vCenter (also formerly known as VirtualCenter). Doing so is not a difficult process, but can be a bit confusing if an administrator 

The default location of sysprep files. Sysprep Data location.

When you have your vCenter running under Windows 2008, the sysprep files are located at this path:

ProgramData\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\sysprep

*NOTE: Program data directory is hidden by default*

If you’re running vCenter on Windows 2003 R2 x64 then the location is here:

c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\sysprep

Then you’ll see that there are empty folders for the sysprep files already created there. The folder structure is created by default, but the files are not there. You must download them from Microsoft’s website first. You just need to download the latest sysprep files and extract the cabinet files there for each and different OS.


If you don’t copy the sysprep files there after installing your vCenter, for certains OS you don’t have the possibility to personalize your installation (the radio buttons are grayed out).

To get the latest sysprep files follow the links below:

Windows Version Sysprep Directory Sysprep Version
Windows 2000 Server SP4 with Update Rollup 1
The updated Deployment Tools are available in the Support\Tools\ file on the Windows 2000 SP4 CD-ROM
directory_path\2k 5.0.2195.2104
Windows 2003 Server SP2
directory_path\svr2003 5.2.3790.3959
Windows 2003 x64
directory_path\svr2003-64 5.2.3790.3959(srv03_sp2_rtm.070216-1710)
Windows XP Pro SP3
directory_path\Windowsxp Pro SP3 5.1.2600.5512
Windows XP Pro SP2
directory_path\xp 5.1.2600.2180
Windows XP x64
directory_path\xp-64 5.2.3790.3959
Windows 2003 Server R2
directory_path\svr2003 5.2.3790.3959

This Information is getting from VMware KB (1005593)

If the file downloaded from the Microsoft Web Site is a .exe file the following additional steps must be executed to extract the files from the .exe:

Open a Windows command prompt. For more information, see Opening a command or shell prompt

Change to the directory where the .exe file is saved.

Enter the name of the .exe file with the /x switch to extract the files. For example:WindowsServer2003-KB926028-v2-x86-ENU.exe /x

When prompted, choose a directory for the extracted files.

Browse the directory and copy the extracted files directly to the Sysprep Directory or extract the files from the and copy to the Sysprep Directory. The file structure in directory is look like below.


Those OS which sysprep files are not needed, because they are already integrated into the OS are: 2008 Server, 2008 R2, Vista or Windows 7

Step 2:  Create customization specification

Navigate to vCenter Servers Home Page >on right side -> monitoring -> Customization Specification Manager-> double Click on the icon


Click on the + sign as highlighted to create new specification


Choose the target OS. There are two options (Linux, Windows) -> we Choose Windows- > Enter the name of specification -> Click “Next”


Enter the Registration Info of the VM -> click “Next”


Choose Use virtual machine name -> Click “Next”


Enter the OS license key, leave other as default -> click “Next”


Enter the administration password -> Click “Next”


Set the time zone setting-> click “Next”


Enter the script path (if any). Which run once after the VM customization. I have none -> Click “Next”


Leave as default to get IP from dhcp -> click “Next”


I want my windows VM to be on domain. So enter domain and administrative domain user credentials -> Click “Next”


Do not uncheck this box. Its default check so leave as default -> Click “Next”


Review the summary of the steps. If everything is fine -> Click “Finish”


Verify your customization specification which we have created


Repeat the same step to create specification for other windows OS such as (xp, w7, 2k8, w8, 2k12, Linux)


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