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I typically require multiple SharePoint virtual machines for development purposes. I currently manually build these every time I need one, either starting from a fresh OS install or using sysprep when working with SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2. I currently use VMWare, but am open to VirtualBox or Hyper-V.

I'd like to be able to go from zero to a working VM with SharePoint, SQL and Visual Studio all through script. Is this a feasible task? Or are there more practical methods which would start from a VM with a fresh installation of an OS, and then use more standard unattended installs.

Although general, I'd like to know which direction to focus my efforts.

Thanks in advance, vnat

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Are you using vmware workstation, player, or one of vmware's server products (eg vmware server, ESXi) – JakeRobinson Jan 7 '11 at 4:05

What I usually do in situations like this, especially if I have a virtual machine system running, is to create one that looks like I want it -- then copy that VM when I need a new copy. Make changes to the copy so that it looks as different from the original as you need.

Note this won't work if you are trying to iteratively create sharepoint instances (ie each instance is different due to something you learn while playing with the previous one).

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If you are using vmware server you can look into the snapshot feature to create a primary VM then take the snapshot as you have tweaked to your liking. Then you can utilize the snapshot manager to "revert" back to a clean vm when your project is complete.

If you are using the the vmware workstation then you would be best server to follow David's advice.

Virtualbox too has this ability and it is included free, so if cost is an issue perhaps that is a better choice.

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I currently have a license for VMware 6.5.

An issue I've faced with using a snapshot or "base" images, is that SharePoint machine cannot be easily renamed (which is necessary if I want to have them connected to the network). Although I can use NAT mode, I'd prefer the ability to have unique virtual machines that can work in Bridged mode. I apologize for not mentioning this requirement.

Using sysprep (only compatible with SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2), requires manual steps of finishing the installations (through GUI or Powershell).

Ideally I'd want to be able to get 2 VMs with different server names and SIDS with, for instance, Windows 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010, Visual Studio 2010 and other small applications with a single click (to run a script).

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