Packer and PowerShell 5.1

Recently, I have been putting together a local Packer template repository to create a number of base images for testing. While creating the template for Windows Server 2012 R2, I was attempting to install PowerShell 5.1 with Chocolatey. During this, I learned that these types of updates cannot be installed through a WinRM session due to some intentional limitations imposed by Microsoft. Installing with Chocolatey returns the following error:

Installing PowerShell…

WARNING: User (you) cancelled the installation.

Opps we had a error.

Found the following error(s) and warnings in the MSU log “C:\Users\vagrant\AppData\Local\Temp\chocolatey\PowerShell-Install-201807130652.evtx”

ERROR: Running [“C:\Windows\System32\wusa.exe” “C:\Users\vagrant\AppData\Local\Temp\chocolatey\PowerShell\5.1.14409.20180105\Win8.1AndW2K12R2-KB3191564-x64.msu” /quiet /norestart /log:”C:\Users\vagrant\AppData\Local\Temp\chocolatey\PowerShell-Install-201807130652.evtx” ] was not successful. Exit code was ‘5’. Exit code indicates the following: User (you) cancelled the installation.

Exit code 5 actually means Access denied here, which I found out from trying to install the msu file with wusa.exe.

wusa.exe <path-to-package.msu> /quiet

I spent a number of evenings looking around for solutions to this and I came across a handful of approaches. I initially tried creating a scheduled task to run as the local SYSTEM account to execute the install, but this didn’t seem to work either.

After going back and forth, moving execution from provisioners to the Autounattend.xml file, I used some of the commands described in this article. The solution is to unpack the msu with wusa.exe and then install the cab file with Dism.exe.

My simplified implementation follows.


  "builders": [],
  "provisioners": [
      "type": "powershell",
      "script": "scripts/install_powershell.ps1",
      "elevated_user": "vagrant",
      "elevated_password": "vagrant",
      "valid_exit_codes": [
      "type": "windows-restart",
      "restart_timeout": "1h"
  "post-processors": [],
  "variables": {}


$url = ''
$checksum = 'a8d788fa31b02a999cc676fb546fc782e86c2a0acd837976122a1891ceee42c0'
$output = "$env:WinDir\Temp\Win8.1AndW2K12R2-KB3191564-x64.msu"

# Ensure the Windows Update service is running.
Get-Service -Name wuauserv | Start-Service

# Download the update.
(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($url, $output)

# Validate the checksum.
if ((Get-FileHash -Path $output -Algorithm SHA256).Hash.ToLower() -ne $checksum) {
    Write-Output "Checksum does not match."
    exit 1

# Extract the contents of the msu package.
$env:WinDir\System32\wusa.exe `
    $env:WinDir\Temp\Win8.1AndW2K12R2-KB3191564-x64.msu `

# Install the cab file wih Dism.
$env:WinDir\System32\Dism.exe `
    /online /add-package `
    /PackagePath:$env:WinDir\Temp\ `
    /Quiet /NoRestart
# Returns 3010 to signify "reboot required"

# Stop the Windows Update service.
Get-Service -Name wuauserv | Stop-Service

My actual implementation will be published on GitHub once completed.