I haven’t written about ESXi in quote some time as I’ve been concentrating on Hyper-V but ESXi still creeps in to my builds every now and then (and there still is nothing like vConvert that is easily available in the Hyper-V world outside of System Center). I hit a small problem this weekend while trying to reload a small Lenovo server with ESXi 5.1 on top of which I wanted to build a Server 2012 VM using the Lenovo supplied Server 2012 OS media. When I started the build of the VM I got a message stating there must be a problem with the hardware configuration and to check to make sure the machine was a proper Lenovo machine (or words to similar effect). Hmmmm …
The problem is 2012 and 2012 R2 both do some serious checking against some hidden BIOS settings when installing from OEM media. As I was installing against an ESXi VM “BIOS” the settings weren’t there and the installation was failing. What to do???
Thankfully, the problem can be worked around by adding this line to the VMX file that is created when you make the initial settings for the new VM:
smbios.addHostVendor = “TRUE”
With that line added to the VMX your installation will go all the way through without issue. Then, once you have the VM built and are happy with it and want to activate the license you’ll then need to run the following two commands from inside the VM:
c:windowssystem32slmgr.vbs /ipk “your product Key” <—without quotes (but enter in CAPS with dashes)
After executing each command you should get a pop-up window displaying confirmation of success. Two confirmations means you are good to go!
Hope this helps if you have hit a similar situation.