Slipstreaming VMXNET3 drivers into Windows builds


A question came up on Twitter this week about pre-loading drivers into Windows builds to allow future devices to be ready to use. I have been doing this for a while, but take it for granted I guess. I was prompted on responding to blog this, which totally makes sense, so here goes.

In my case we are slipstreaming the VMXNET3 driver, which is needed if you want to provision Windows Server VMs on vCenter with the VMXNET3 network adapter, which is required if you don’t want to limit your Windows VMs to the 1Gbps available to the E1000 adapter type.

Here we are doing it using the autoUnattend.xml file, which I use on a virtual floppy disk to automate Windows builds, but this could apply to however you build your servers, and want to install drivers.

So the following command is in my autoUnattend.xml file, near the end, where we do commands to run at first logon:


This uses the pnputil.exe, which is a built in utility to install drivers, and points to the .inf file, sitting on the virtual floppy drive, in a folder with the below files:


As a heads up, I got these files from a VM which already had VMware Tools installed, from the VMXNET3 specific version folder in ‘C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository’.

Hopefully one day this will be included with Windows, but not sure if this is something Microsoft want to do or not, if not then this is the way I do it for now. I don’t think I entirely figured this out on my own, but have been doing it this way for a while, so apologies for not referencing anyone’s blog I poached this from. I’m sure if you are using SCCM or whatever then you could use a similar method to this, with the command line tool used above to do this (and with any driver, not just VMXNET3).


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