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vSphere Lab Build Out – The Domain Controller Configuration

For the Domain Controller build the entire process is much easier and quicker when working from PowerShell instead of the GUI.  It also makes it more repeatable, which is awesome for labs.

The first steps are the basic config of the server.  Below is each command needed, with the variables in red.  Change what you need, then paste the commands into PowerShell.

Set the computer name: 

Rename-Computer LabDC

Enable Remote Desktop access (optional)

Enable-NetFirewallRule -DisplayGroup “Remote Desktop”

Set-ItemProperty -Path ‘HKLM:SystemCurrentControlSetControlTerminal Server’ -name “fDenyTSConnections” -value 0 

Disable DHCP, set the IP address, DNS, and default route:

Set-NetIPInterface -InterfaceAlias Ethernet0 -AddressFamily IPv4 -Dhcp Disabled 

New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Ethernet0 -AddressFamily IPv4 -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 

Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceAlias Ethernet0 -AddressFamily IPv4 -ServerAddresses 

New-NetRoute -AddressFamily IPv4 -InterfaceAlias Ethernet0 -DestinationPrefix -NextHop

Install the AD, DNS, iSCSI, and Remote Server Admin Tools.
Install-WindowsFeature -name AD-Domain-Services,DNS,FS-iSCSITarget-Server,RSAT-ADDS

Reboot to apply the name change:

shutdown -r -t 0

Log into the server again, and create the domain:

Install-ADDSForest -DomainName Lab.local -InstallDNS

When prompted for the AD Restore Mode password enter the password, and then confirm it.  After that, accept the prompt by pressing the “A” key and hitting Enter.  Wait, while the new domain is configured.  When the process completes the server will automatically reboot.

The final task will be getting DNS configured with a reverse DNS zone, and records created for the various devices that will be deployed.

Add-DnsServerPrimaryZone -NetworkID “” -ReplicationScope “Forest” 

Add-DnsServerResourceRecordA -Name “ESX1” -ZoneName “Lab.local” -IPv4Address “” -CreatePtr 

Add-DnsServerResourceRecordA -Name “ESX2” -ZoneName “Lab.local” -IPv4Address “” -CreatePtr 

Add-DnsServerResourceRecordA -Name “vCenter” -ZoneName “Lab.local” -IPv4Address “” -CreatePtr 

Add-DnsServerResourceRecordA -Name “vRO” -ZoneName “Lab.local” -IPv4Address “” -CreatePtr 

Add-DnsServerResourceRecordA -Name “vLCM” -ZoneName “Lab.local” -IPv4Address “” -CreatePtr

That concludes the initial DC config for the environment.

vSphere Lab Build Out – The Domain Controller Deployment

When building out a lab the first thing I do is build out a Domain Controller and DNS server. I can then use AD for credential management, and the DNS functionality is helpful as well.  I also use that server to create an iSCSI target for my hosts.

1. Virtual Environment

The first step is to have your virtualization environment ready to go.  It’s easy enough to next-next-finish your way through the VMware Workstation install, so I won’t detail out those steps.

2. Download Windows ISOs

You can download the Server 2019 ISO here:

Select ISO, fill out the info required, and then hit continue.  Select your language, and then start the download.

3. Create the Lab Domain Controller VM

  1. In VMware Workstation press CTRL+N to open the New Virtual Machine Wizard, and make sure Typical is selected, then click Next
  2. Select the option for Installer Disc Image File, and browse to the location you downloaded the Server 2019 ISO to then click Next
  3. Since this will be using the evaluation license leave the product key blank, enter a name and password, and then click Next.
  4. Accept the prompt about not having a product key
  5. Enter the name and location for the VM, and click Next again
  6. Use the default hard drive size of 60GB (another drive will be added later for the iSCSI target storage), and click Next
  7. Click Customize Hardware…
  8. Set the VM hardware
    1. Set the CPU and RAM to what you’d like.  I used 2 vCPUs and 8GB RAM on my VM.
    2. Change the Network Adapter to Bridged
    3. Click Close
  9. Uncheck the box for Power on this virtual machine after creation and click finish.
  10. Now to add a the hard drive for the iSCSI target and remove the floppy drive.  In the library view right-click on the VM and click Settings
    1. Find the Floppy drive and click Remove (NOTE: If you don’t remove the floppy drive the OS install will encounter an error and fail), then click Add
      1. Select Hard Drive and click Next
      2. Leave the default drive (mine happens to be NVMe) and click Next
      3. Leave the default option to create a new drive and click Next
      4. Enter the size for the drive (I used 750GB) and click Next
      5. Leave the default file name and click Finish
    2. Click OK to finish the hardware changes
  11. Power on the VM

4. Install the OS to the Lab DC

NOTE: While in the VM you will need to press Ctrl+Alt to release the cursor to get to your desktop
  1. While the VM is booting you might see a prompt to press a key to boot from CD.  If that happens click into the window and press a key.
  2. Select the language, and keyboard settings
  3. Click Install Now
  4. When prompted to select the OS choose Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Evaluation (Desktop Experience) because we like graphical interfaces, and click Next
  5. Read through all of the licenses terms, and if you accept the terms check the box to accept them and click Next
  6. Select the Custom install option
  7. Select Drive 0, this should be the 60GB drive, and click Next
  8. Wait for the install to complete.  This might take some time.
  9. When the install is complete it will prompt for a password.  Set that and click Finish.
  10. The last thing to do for the VM deployment is to install VMware Tools.
    1. Log into the VM using the password set previously
    2. Right click on the VM in the Library an select Install VMware Tools
    3. Navigate to the D: drive and double click it.  That should kick off the Autorun for the installer.
    4. Follow the defaults for the install.  Next > Next > Install > Finish and then click Yes when prompted for a reboot.
The DC configuration will be detailed out in another posting in this series.