Windows Vagrant

Windows 2012R2/10/2016/2019 Base Vagrant Box (

This builds Windows 2012R2/10/2016/2019 base Vagrant boxes using Packer and VirtualBox/Hyper-V/libvirt/qemu.


Install VirtualBox (or libvirt on Linux based systems), packer 1.6.3+, packer-provisioner-windows-update plugin and vagrant. If you are using Windows and Chocolatey, you can install everything from an administrative PowerShell session with:

choco install -y virtualbox packer packer-provisioner-windows-update vagrant msys2

# configure the msys2 launcher to let the shell inherith the PATH.
$msys2BasePath = 'C:\tools\msys64'
$msys2ConfigPath = "$msys2BasePath\msys2.ini"
    ([IO.File]::ReadAllText($msys2ConfigPath) `
        -replace '#?(MSYS2_PATH_TYPE=).+','$1inherit')

# define a function for easying the execution of bash scripts.
$bashPath = "$msys2BasePath\usr\bin\bash.exe"
function Bash($script) {
    $eap = $ErrorActionPreference
    $ErrorActionPreference = 'Continue'
    try {
        # we also redirect the stderr to stdout because PowerShell
        # oddly interleaves them.
        # see
        echo 'exec 2>&1;set -eu;export PATH="/usr/bin:$PATH";export HOME=$USERPROFILE;' $script | &$bashPath
        if ($LASTEXITCODE) {
            throw "bash execution failed with exit code $LASTEXITCODE"
    } finally {
        $ErrorActionPreference = $eap

Bash 'pacman --noconfirm -Sy make zip unzip tar dos2unix xorriso'

Open a bash shell by starting C:\tools\msys64\mingw64.exe and execute the remaining commands inside it.

To build the base box based on the Windows Server 2019 Evaluation ISO run:

make build-windows-2019-libvirt # or make build-windows-2019-virtualbox

If you want to use your own ISO, you need to manually run the packer command, e.g.:

packer build -var iso_url=<ISO_URL> -var iso_checksum=<ISO_SHA256_CHECKSUM> -only=windows-2019-amd64-virtualbox windows-2019.json

NB if the build fails with something like Post-processor failed: write /tmp/packer073329394/packer-windows-2019-amd64-virtualbox-1505050546-disk001.vmdk: no space left on device you need to increase your temporary partition size or change its location as described in the packer TMPDIR/TMP environment variable documentation.

NB if you are having trouble building the base box due to floppy drive removal errors try adding, as a workaround, "post_shutdown_delay": "30s", to the windows-2019.json file.

NB the packer logs are saved inside a *-packer.log file (e.g. windows-2019-amd64-libvirt-packer.log).

You can then add the base box to your local vagrant installation with:

vagrant box add -f windows-2019-amd64

And test this base box by launching an example Vagrant environment:

cd example
vagrant plugin install vagrant-windows-sysprep
vagrant up --no-destroy-on-error --provider=virtualbox # or --provider=libvirt

NB if you are having trouble running the example with the vagrant libvirt provider check the libvirt logs in the host (e.g. sudo tail -f /var/log/libvirt/qemu/example_default.log) and in the guest (inside C:\Windows\Temp).

Then test with a more complete example:

git clone
cd customize-windows-vagrant
vagrant up --no-destroy-on-error --provider=virtualbox # or --provider=libvirt


Build the base box for the vagrant-libvirt provider with:

make build-windows-2019-libvirt

If you want to access the UI run:

spicy --uri 'spice+unix:///tmp/packer-windows-2019-amd64-libvirt-spice.socket'

NB the packer template file defines qemuargs (which overrides the default packer qemu arguments), if you modify it, verify if you also need include the default packer qemu arguments (see builder/qemu/step_run.go or start packer without qemuargs defined to see how it starts qemu).

Hyper-V usage

Install Hyper-V and also install the Windows Sandbox feature (for some reason, installing this makes DHCP work properly in the vEthernet Default Switch).

Make sure your user is in the Hyper-V Administrators group or you run with Administrative privileges.

Make sure your Virtual Switch (its vEthernet network adapter) is excluded from the Windows Firewall protected network connections by executing the following commands in a bash shell with Administrative privileges:

PowerShell -Command 'Get-NetFirewallProfile | Select-Object -Property Name,DisabledInterfaceAliases'
PowerShell -Command 'Set-NetFirewallProfile -DisabledInterfaceAliases (Get-NetAdapter -name "vEthernet*" | Where-Object {$_.ifIndex}).InterfaceAlias'

Create the base image in a bash shell with Administrative privileges:

cat > <<'EOF'
# set this value when you need to set the VM Switch Name.
export HYPERV_SWITCH_NAME='Default Switch'
# set this value when you need to set the VM VLAN ID.
export HYPERV_VLAN_ID=''
# set the credentials that the guest will use
# to connect to this host smb share.
# NB you should create a new local user named _vagrant_share
#    and use that one here instead of your user credentials.
# NB it would be nice for this user to have its credentials
#    automatically rotated, if you implement that feature,
#    let me known!
export VAGRANT_SMB_USERNAME='_vagrant_share'
# remove the virtual switch from the windows firewall.
# NB execute if the VM fails to obtain an IP address from DHCP.
PowerShell -Command 'Set-NetFirewallProfile -DisabledInterfaceAliases (Get-NetAdapter -name "vEthernet*" | Where-Object {$_.ifIndex}).InterfaceAlias'
time make build-windows-2019-hyperv

Try the example guest:

NB You will need Administrative privileges to create the SMB share.

cd example
# grant $VAGRANT_SMB_USERNAME full permissions to the
# current directory.
# NB you must first install the Carbon PowerShell module
#    with choco install -y carbon.
# TODO set VM screen resolution.
PowerShell -Command 'Import-Module Carbon; Grant-Permission . $env:VAGRANT_SMB_USERNAME FullControl'
vagrant up --provider=hyperv
vagrant ssh
vagrant destroy -f

VMware vSphere

Download the Windows Evaluation ISO (you can find the full iso URL in the windows-2019-vsphere.json file) and place it inside the datastore as defined by the vsphere_iso_url user variable that is inside the packer template.

Download the VMware Tools VMware-tools-windows-<SAME_VERSION_AS_IN_PACKER_TEMPLATE>.iso file into the datastore defined by the vsphere_tools_iso_url user variable that is inside the packer template.

Download govc and place it inside your /usr/local/bin directory.

Install the vsphere vagrant plugin, set your vSphere details, and test the connection to vSphere:

sudo apt-get install build-essential patch ruby-dev zlib1g-dev liblzma-dev
vagrant plugin install vagrant-vsphere
vagrant plugin install vagrant-windows-sysprep
cd example
cat > <<'EOF'
export GOVC_INSECURE='1'
export GOVC_HOST='vsphere.local'
export GOVC_URL="https://$GOVC_HOST/sdk"
export GOVC_USERNAME='[email protected]'
export GOVC_PASSWORD='password'
export GOVC_DATACENTER='Datacenter'
export GOVC_CLUSTER='Cluster'
export GOVC_DATASTORE='Datastore'
export VSPHERE_ESXI_HOST='esxi.local'
export VSPHERE_TEMPLATE_FOLDER='test/templates'
# NB the VSPHERE_TEMPLATE_NAME last segment MUST match the
#    builders.vm_name property inside the packer tamplate.
export VSPHERE_TEMPLATE_NAME="$VSPHERE_TEMPLATE_FOLDER/windows-2019-amd64-vsphere"
export VSPHERE_VM_FOLDER='test'
export VSPHERE_VM_NAME='windows-2019-vagrant-example'
export VSPHERE_VLAN='packer'
# see
govc version
govc about
govc # list datacenters
govc find # find all managed objects

Build the base box with:

make build-windows-2019-vsphere

Try the example guest:

echo $VSPHERE_TEMPLATE_NAME # check if you are using the expected template.
vagrant up --no-destroy-on-error --provider=vsphere
vagrant ssh
vagrant destroy -f

Non-Administrator account

The above example uses the administrator account, but you can use a less privileged account like in the following example.


First, review the glossary:

The ability to perform a specific action or read a specific property.
A collection of privileges. Roles provide a way to aggregate all the individual privileges that are required to perform a higher-level task.
Consists of a user or group and an assigned role for an inventory object.

Then follow the next steps to create an example configuration.

In the vSphere Single Sign-On (SSO) configuration page create a Vagrants group and add your non-administrator user to it.

In the vSphere Access Control page create a Vagrant role with the privileges:

  • Datastore
    • Allocate space
  • Network
    • Assign network
  • Resource
    • Assign virtual machine to resource pool
  • Virtual machine
    • Provisioning
      • Deploy template

In vSphere configure the following Inventory Objects permissions:

Inventory Object Role Principal (User or Group) Propagate
Datacenter Vagrant VSPHERE.LOCAL\Vagrants yes
test Administrator VSPHERE.LOCAL\Vagrants yes

NB test is a folder that will store the virtual machines launched by vagrant.

For more information see the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration/Required Privileges for Common Tasks document in the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration manual.

WinRM access

You can connect to this machine through WinRM to run a remote command, e.g.:

winrs -r:localhost:55985 -u:vagrant -p:vagrant "whoami /all"

NB the exact local WinRM port should be displayed by vagrant, in this case:

==> default: Forwarding ports...
    default: 5985 (guest) => 55985 (host) (adapter 1)

WinRM and UAC (aka LUA)

This base image uses WinRM. WinRM poses several limitations on remote administration, those were worked around by disabling User Account Control (UAC) (aka Limited User Account (LUA)) in autounattend.xml and UAC remote restrictions in winrm.ps1.

If needed, you can later enable them with:

Set-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' -Name EnableLUA -Value 1
Set-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' -Name EnableLUA -Value 1
Remove-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' -Name LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy

Or disable them with:

Set-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' -Name EnableLUA -Value 0
Set-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' -Name EnableLUA -Value 0
New-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' -Name LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy -Value 1 -Force

Windows Unattended Installation

When Windows boots from the installation media its Setup application loads the a:\autounattend.xml file. It contains all the answers needed to automatically install Windows without any human intervention. For more information on how this works see OEM Windows Deployment and Imaging Walkthrough.

autounattend.xml was generated with the Windows System Image Manager (WSIM) application that is included in the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK).

Windows ADK

To create, edit and validate the a:\autounattend.xml file you need to install the Deployment Tools that are included in the Windows ADK.

If you are having trouble installing the ADK (adksetup) or running WSIM (imgmgr) when your machine is on a Windows Domain and the log has:

Image path is [\??\C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\amd64\DISM\wimmount.sys]
Could not acquire privileges; GLE=0x514
Returning status 0x514

It means there's a group policy that is restricting your effective permissions, for an workaround, run adksetup and imgmgr from a SYSTEM shell, something like:

psexec -s -d -i cmd
cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\WSIM"

For more information see Error installing Windows ADK.

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