Deploying Server 2016 Nano Server using a VHD

One of the new features of Server 2016 is the ability to deploy Nano server. Nano server has an even smaller footprint than Server Core. There aren’t many workloads that you can run on Nano server, so make sure that your application can support it.

This blog uses Server 2016 Tech Preview 5. Hopefully the directions will not change when it hits RTM. For this exercise, you should have a computer running either Windows 10 or Server 2016 with desktop experience. You can download TP5 here:

Build the VHD

To begin, mount the TP5 ISO that you downloaded from the evaluation center. Copy the folder “NanoServer” to a writeable drive. I copied it to the root of C. Now, open PowerShell as an administrator. You will need to change directories to the directory where you copied the NanoServer folder. Now import the Nano server module:


To create the Nano server VHD, run this command:


It will ask you for an administrator password, even though we tell it to join a domain. This will be the local administrator password for the Nano server. You can join it to your AD after it boots.


After you feed it the administrator password, it will build your VHD.


Let’s take a look at the command I used to build the Nano server image:

new-nanoserverimage -edition Standard -deploymenttype Guest -mediapath d: -basepath .\vhd-create -targetpath .\nano-fileserver.vhd -computername nano-fs01 -domainname -storage

First, the edition parameter specifies the server edition, either Standard or Datacenter. Next, deployment type specifies whether this VHD will be a guest VM or physical host. Third, media path specifies the path to the mounted Server 2016 ISO. Next, base path specifies the location where the cmdlet stores the files necessary to create the VHD. Target path is the location of the outputted VHD. Next, computer name specifies the name of the server. Finally, storage specifies that this will be a file server. There are several options you can select for the purpose of the server, including compute (adds Hyper-V) and clustering. You can also add multiple roles a server.

I skipped the domain name parameter because I want to talk about it in detail. To join this Nano server to your domain, you will need to build the VHD from a machine that is currently in your domain, and from an account with the ability to create computer objects in your default domain location. The build process will build the object as it builds the VHD. At first boot, the VHD will join your domain.

Deploying to Hyper-V

You can add this VHD to Hyper-V running on Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, Server 2008 R2, 2012/R2, or 2016. During the VM build process, reference the VHD that we just created. When it boots, you’ll get this screen:


You can authenticate using the local administrator account and the password you used during VHD creation, or via domain credentials. You will receive the Nano Server Recovery Console when you log in:


You now have a deployed Nano server. You can totally manage it remotely via PowerShell to configure the appropriate roles.


All content provided on this blog is for information purposes only. Windows Management Experts, Inc makes no representation as to accuracy or completeness of any information on this site. Windows Management Experts, Inc will not be liable for any errors or omission in this information nor for the availability of this information. It is highly recommended that you consult one of our technical consultants, should you need any further assistance.



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