VMWare-iso & vSphere-iso with questions

First time here and first time user of Packer!

I am confused on several things regarding to VMware-iso and vSphere builder. I am trying to build a Windows environment using ESXi 6.7 & 7.0 (free license) and running into issues.

  1. Is vSphere-iso replacing Vmware-iso builder? (I read somewhere that this “might” be the case.)
  2. Could you use vSphere-iso builder on a single ESXi host (free license)?
  3. Using VMware-iso, how do I tell packer to use “EFI” for firmware?

One of my issues I am having currently, I am using VMware-iso and using Packer to push my OS to the VM. But, I am getting errors within the WinPE wizard process saying “WIndows could not apply the unattend answer file’s setting.” I have modify a Windows answer (unattend.xml) in multiple ways related to the partitioning and nothing will give. I always come up with this error and starting to think that it might be a HCL2 setting not addressed in my .pkr.hcl file. Not sure what is going on exactly. Thanks!

Hi, thanks for reaching out!

  1. We suggest people use vsphere-iso for any remote esxi builds, and vmware-iso for any local desktop (vmware workstation, vmware fusion) builds.

  2. Yes, you should be able to use the VSphere builder on Esxi, but you’ll need to launch the free web application

  3. You probably need to pass those settings in the VMware ISO - Builders | Packer by HashiCorp option. Here’s a community example I found with a quick search: https://gist.github.com/berney/0dd666256ea2f8cf030a65109d3360f0#file-macos-json-L23

@SwampDragons Thank you so for the feedback.

Answer #2: Not sure what you need by “launching the free web application”. Could you provide more details on what you mean by that statement.

Answer #3: I am using HCL2. Do you have any example of that?

If you’ve got a recent install of esxi, it comes with a web client. It’s been a while since I’ve had to look at this, but I think it’s this one: Start the VMware Host Client and Log In

I think you want:

  vmx_data = {
    "firmware" =  "efi"

How do you know what are all the syntaxes are for “vmx_data”? I dont see a list anywhere regarding this. @SwampDragons

They’re just the keys and values you’d find in a .vmx file.

VMWare doesn’t document this in one explicit place since they prefer you edit those files using their GUIs. The best you can do is search around for what you want to do, and check the settings present in the vmx files you already have.

Hello @SwampDragons,

I am getting this error below.

Current license or ESXi version prohibits execution of the request operation

Again, I am using a free license on a single ESXi host. From my understanding from your previous comment and this link below, vsphere-iso should work on a free license ESXi correct?


To the best of my knowledge, it should work. Without logs to look at I’m afraid I can’t help since I don’t know where that error message is getting generated.