A custom sysprep answer file is a file that stores a number of customization settings such as computer name, licensing information, and workgroup or domain settings. You can supply a custom sysprep answer file as an alternative to specifying many of the settings in the Guest Customization wizard.
Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP use a text file called sysprep.inf. Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 use an XML file called sysprep.xml. You can create these files using a text editor, or use the Microsoft Setup Manager utility to generate them.
Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF)
The VMware vSphere Client (vSphere Client) allows you to deploy and export virtual machines, virtual appliances, and vApps stored in Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF). OVF is a file format that allows for exchange of virtual appliances across products and platforms.
Deploying an OVF template allows you to add pre-configured virtual machines to your vCenter Server or ESXi inventory. Deploying an OVF template is similar to deploying a virtual machine from a template. However, you can deploy an OVF template from any local file system accessible from the vSphere Client machine, or from a remote web server. The local file systems can include local disks (such as C:), removable media (such as CDs or USB keychain drives), and shared network drives. In other words you do not need vCenter to deploy OVF based appliance
What are advantages of OVF file?
The OVF format offers the following advantages:
1. OVF files are compressed, allowing for faster downloads.
2. The vSphere Client validates an OVF file before importing it, and ensures that it is compatible with the intended destination server. If the appliance is incompatible with the selected host, it cannot be imported and an error message appears.
3. OVF can encapsulate multi-tiered applications and more than one virtual machine.
Export an OVF Template
Exporting OVF templates allows you to create virtual appliances that can be imported by other users. You can use the export function to distribute pre-installed software as a virtual appliance, or as a means of distributing template virtual machines to users, including users who cannot directly access and use the templates in your vCenter Server inventory.
An OVF package captures the state of a virtual machine or vApp into a self-contained package. The disk files are stored in a compressed, sparse format. In order to export VM into OVF, VM must be powered off
Required privilege: vApp.Export
1. Select the virtual machine or vApp and select File > Export > Export OVF Template.
2. In the Export OVF Template dialog, type the Name of the template.
For example, type MyVm.
NOTE When exporting an OVF template with a name that contains asterisk (*) characters, those characters turn into underscore characters (_).
3. Enter the Directory location where the exported virtual machine template is saved, or click “…” to browse for the location.
The C:\ drive is the default location where the template is stored.
For example, OvfLib.
4. In the Format field, determine how you want to store the files.
Select Folder of files (OVF) to store the OVF template as a set of files (.ovf, .vmdk, and .mf) This format is optimal if you plan to publish the OVF files on a web server or image library. The package can be imported, for example, into the vSphere client by publishing the URL to the .ovf file.
Select Single file (OVA) to package the OVF template into a single .ova file. This might be convenient to distribute the OVF package as a single file if it needs to be explicitly downloaded from a web site or moved around using a USB key.
6. In Description, type a description for the virtual machine.
By default, the text from the Notes pane on the virtual machine’s Summary tab appears in this text box.
7. Select the checkbox if you want to include image files attached to floppy and CD/DVD devices in the OVF package.
NOTE This checkbox only shows if the virtual machine is connected to an ISO file or if the floppy drive is connected to a floppy
8. OVF folder, the following files are created:
Folder structure created is as below
If you choose to export into the OVA format, and type VM03, the file C:\VM03.ova is created.