This blog post was originally written by Thomas Cantwell & Michael Schroeder.


In a previous blog, we demonstrated how to use Windows Deployment Services (WDS) to deploy a Nano Server VHD. Today, we'll focus on a manual deployment to the R730xd using a USB key. This deployment method will use legacy BIOS boot instead of UEFI boot. Note that some of the new features of Windows Server 2016 require UEFI boot, so in a future blog will provide the steps to deploy in UEFI mode.

For this walkthrough, we’ll be using the PowerEdge™ R730xd Rack Server.


USB Preparation

  1. First, we will need a bootable USB key. The TP5 evaluation image is ~5GB in size so an 8GB USB key will be sufficient for the complete iso.

  2. We are using the Windows Server 2016 TP5 evaluation iso image for one purpose - to use the WinPE (Windows Preinstall Environment) setup environment to deploy the VHD image to the R730xd.

Using a utility like the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool, you can apply the Windows Server 2016 TP5 evaluation iso to a USB Key. A sample screenshot below shows how this tool makes quick work of the install to a USB key.

With the USB key created, we can now boot into WINPE to deploy our VHD image.


Nano Image Preparation

Next, build the Nano Server image (VHD) for the R730XD using the New-NanoServerImage cmdlet provided in the Nano Server folder on the TP5 iso image.

Tip - We deployed Windows Server 2016 TP5 in a Hyper-V VM as our build environment to assist building our Nano Server images. The reason for this is to ensure that when we import modules, our Nano build will be using the latest packages and code from Windows Server 2016. This is our standard practice to maintain latest code for both Windows Server 2016 and Nano Server. This also means you will see any new/changed features.

New-NanoServerImage -Edition Datacenter -DeploymentType Host -MediaPath E:

-BasePath .\Base -TargetPath .\NanoServerPhysical\NanoWDS01.vhd -OEMDrivers

-Compute -EnableRemoteManagementPort


The key to deploying to a physical host is the highlighted command above. The two options are “Host” (to deploy to a physical server), or “Guest” (for VM deployment).

Complete details on creating your Nano Server images can be found under the ‘Nano Server on a physical computer’ section on the Getting Started with Nano Server blog.

Once finished, copy your newly created VHD(s) to your USB key.

VHD Deployment

Insert the USB Key into a USB port on the R730XD.

When booting the R730xd, press F11 for a one time boot. This allows you to select which boot device you would like to boot from. At the boot menu, select the appropriate device that corresponds to your USB key.

Once you reach the Windows setup screen, press “Shift-F10”, this will open a command prompt window. Type “diskpart” and use the following steps to prepare the disk and the VHD for boot.

Note: This is a destructive process and will delete the contents of disk 0 on the system. At a high level, we need to do a few things: Create the partitions for the target drive, copy our VHD to the boot partition and attach the VHD image.

# Create two partitions and assign a logical letter to the boot partition


select disk 0


create partition primary size=300

format fs=ntfs quick


create partition primary

format fs=ntfs label="Nano" quick

assign letter=c



Now copy the .VHD to drive C: from your USB key (ie. copy d:\tp5hv01.vhd c:\). The command “list volumes” in diskpart can be used to help identify logical letters assigned.


select vdisk file=c:\tp5hv01.vhd

attach vdisk

list volume



cd windows\system32

bcdboot f:\windows


# Cleanup - Detach the VHD


select vdisk file=c:\tp5hv01.vhd

detach vdisk



Now reboot the system to begin using Nano Server.



Installing Nano Server from a USB key is another quick and easy way to deploy to a server, and is required if the server is not networked (as may be the case in a development environment).

We’ll be providing additional Nano Server blogs with a more hardware focused perspective. Let us know if you have any specific ideas for what you would like to see at or leave a comment below.

It is important to understand that Nano Server and Windows Server 2016 are still under development. This blog does not reflect what the final product will look like, nor Dell official support for Nano Server as a separate offering. This is for test purposes only.


Additional Resources:

PowerEdge R730xd Rack Server

Getting Started with Nano Server