2018 Update: Microsoft have unfortunately dropped support for Hyper-V on Server Nano. Windows Server Core should now be used instead.
Hyper-V Nano server is Microsoft’s true answer to VMware’s ESXi hypervisor. It weighs in at a tiny 500MB (approx) disk footprint and completely cuts out any sort of GUI, instead solely relying on remote management.
This really is the future of the Windows Server ecosystem: significantly reduced attack surface (92% fewer ‘critical’ vulnerabilities), scriptable PowerShell remote management, and a tiny disk footprint.
In this post I’m going to detail the steps I followed to setup a Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Nano server image, and install it to the internal SD card of my home lab server, a HP ProLiant DL360 Gen8.
Before getting started, you’re going to need a few things.:
- Windows Server 2016 ISO image
- Windows 10 ADK (link)
- Nano Server Image Builder Tool (link)
- USB Memory stick
- 16GB SD Card
The image builder tool will need direct access to a USB flash disk, so this needs to be done on a physical Windows PC or a Mac running parallels.
This guide is going to be in three main parts. Building our custom Nano Server image, then onto generating the installation ISO/USB flash drive based on WinPE, and finally installing to the actual SD card.
Once we have generated a working installation USB drive or ISO, you can use this over and over again to easily install Nano Server.