In this blog post, we will be taking a look at VMWare's fling, Imager. The tool provides means to automatically create Windows 10 golden Images or VMs from Windows 10 installation ISO. This would be a really interesting and useful tool for horizon or other VDI admins.
This fling needs to be run from a Win 10/ Win 11 PC running VMware Workstation Pro 16.2+ or Workstation Player 16.2+.
Installing the fling to your local PC is quite easy. Before starting of with your installation, ensure the correct Workstation version has been installed on your local PC. You can download the images tool from VMware fling page: https://flings.vmware.com/imager . The "Imager.msi" will be downloaded to your PC. Double click on this msi file to begin the installation. Click "Next", "Next" for the installation to complete:
Once the installation is completed, the imager shortcut is created on your desktop.
Let us look at some of the key features of the imager tool:
You can select the image type from the Windows ISO; which you would want to use for creating the golden image.
You can set the Guest OS admin credentials on the golden image. This is a great feature; as setting credentials for multiple VMs provisioned is a major task of sys admins.
You can add all software packages, that you would want to install on the VMs to be provisioned from the Golden Image; thus saving time on initial software installations. The software packages must be in .ppkg format. To understand how to convert software to .ppkg format, refer this link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/configuration/provisioning-packages/provisioning-create-package
You can also attach the sysprep unattend.xml; in order to silently execute sysprep on the image. Refer this link to understand why we need to carry out sys prep when provisioning from a Golden Image: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/manufacture/desktop/sysprep--generalize--a-windows-installation?view=windows-11
Now, let us look at the steps for using the Imager to create Golden Image VMs.
1- Open the imager tool and click on the "+Next" soft button to start creating an new image:
2- Under "Source Image", for Windows Image, browse to the location of the Windows ISO in your PC. In the Edition drop down, select the exact image you would want to use for the golden image:
3- Under 'Plan' click on the 'Stop here' soft button, next to the stage where you would want to terminate the image build:
4- Under 'Virtual machine Specification' enter the details for 'VMname', procesors, cores per socket, Memory size and Disk size. Ensure you meet the min requirements, previously mentioned:
5- Under 'Software' add any software packages (.ppkg) files previously created:
6- Under 'Sysprep', browse and to the unattend.xml file location (if any); then click on "Build Image":
7- Wait for the Image build process to complete:
One the build is complete, you should be able to see the Image, in imager home screen. Select the Image created and click on "Open file location":
You will notice that the Image is created in .vmx and .vmdk (for the disk) file formats:
It would have been nicer if there was a way in which the tool could convert these to OVA/OVF. Nevertheless, this is a very useful tool from VMware Flings team!!