When a Provisioning Services Target Device is booted from Provisioning Services (across the network), it is not possible to perform any software updates that affect the NIC driver, since the NIC changes will drop the connection to the vDisk.
However, some NIC-affecting software needs to be periodically updated, including the following:
- Hypervisor Tools/Drivers (e.g. VMware Tools, XenServer Tools, VirtIO, etc.)
- Provisioning Services Target Device Software
- Windows 10 upgrades
To update NIC-affecting software, you must first convert (clone) the Provisioning Services vDisk to a traditional virtual machine local disk. The process to convert from vDisk to local disk is sometimes called Reverse Imaging. Once booted from local disk (instead of vDisk), you can do whatever you want with the NIC. In this state, it’s just a regular virtual machine and no longer connected to Provisioning Services.
If your Provisioning Services Target Device Software is version 7.6.1 or newer, then you no longer need to Reverse Image to update the Provisioning Services Target Device Software. In that case, create a new version of your vDisk, boot it, and in-place upgrade the Target Device Software.
However, reverse imaging is still needed to update hypervisor tools (NIC driver).
With “reverse imaging”, the end goal is to boot from local disk instead of from Provisioning Services vDisk across the network. There are several methods of “reverse imaging”, including the following:
- Boot a Target Device from the vDisk. Attach a new local disk to the Target Device. Run XenConvert (P2PVS.exe) to copy the vDisk to local disk. Then boot from local disk instead of from the network.
- vDisks are VHD files. Some hypervisors (e.g. Hyper-V, XenServer) can directly boot VHD files. In that case, simply copy the vDisk VHD file to the local hypervisor’s storage, and configure a virtual machine to boot from the local VHD instead of from the network.
- Windows 7 and newer can boot from VHD files. Build a Windows 7 or newer virtual machine, copy the vDisk VHD to the C: drive of the Windows 7 machine, and then configure bcdedit to boot from the VHD. o Newer versions of Provisioning Services create VHDX files instead of VHD. For VHDX files, the bcdedit method requires Windows 8 or newer.
- Another option for vSphere is to change the Target Device’s NIC type to E1000, boot from E1000 NIC, upgrade VMware Tools, and then switch the NIC type back to VMXNET3. No reverse imaging needed.