2012 R2 Customization Woes

2012 R2 Customization

I have had a lot of issues with my 2012 R2 template in Vcenter. I could not for the longest time get customization/custom specs to run properly. Each time I deployed a VM with custom specs I would see the same results:

It would trigger and appear to run customization but after about 1-2 seconds it would take you to the login screen and nothing would be different. If you look under the ‘Tasks & Events’ tab in Vcenter you would see it logged that customization started (under Events). But again, it never joined the domain, set the IP, activated, etc, etc. 

Finally I stumbled across this post  which led to this article stating:

…once you install the desktop experience feature, it cannot be fully uninstalled. The only way to sysprep this machine is to keep the desktop experience feature enabled.

Whether you sysprep via the VMWare tools or directly, you can now no longer run a successful sysprep without the desktop experience unless you start over with a new OS.

I couldn’t remember if I had ever added it to the template for testing purposes so I made a clone of the template, then added the feature, and would you believe it – customization now works! Unfortunately I don’t want Desktop Experience installed because it adds a bunch of crap to the OS that us server admins don’t want. I ended up completely rebuilding the template from scratch and it works. I swear I tried this before…

VSphere Versions

We are on VSphere 6.0.1. We were previously on versions 5.5 and 5.1 U2. At one point I had tried rebuilding my template from scratch but I kept observing erratic behavior from my template (and some of the others). Somewhere along the line most of these cleared up with updates but 2012 R2 customization has been broke for 6+ months. I’m glad report it is working again!


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