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Creating VirtualBox VMs for Active Directory Practice Pt. 1: Setting Up the Virtual Machines

I’ve been learning more about Active Directory, and one useful study resource is Kevtech IT Support’s video series. The first video involves setting up two VMs in VirtualBox – one for Windows 10 Enterprise, and one for Windows Server 2016. The Server 2016 VM accesses the domain controller, and we then add the Windows 10 machine to the domain.

The video is a stream, and quite long, so I’ll summarize the steps in my next couple of posts for reference.

1. Step One: download both ISO free-trial files from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

Just click on “Download ISO file,” and fill out your information. It’s a few gigabytes in size and may take some time to download depending on your connection speed. The Server free trial period is 180 days.

I used the Server 2022 file (instead of 2016, as Kevtech does in his video), and that worked fine for this lab. Server 2022 is an upgraded version of Server 2019; it mainly added security features. Server 2019 is itself an upgrade from Server 2016, and added features like Hybrid Cloud. Read about all the differences in the Microsoft documentation here.

For the Windows 10 Enterprise file, make sure to choose “ISO - Enterprise” and NOT “ISO – Enterprise LTSC”. (The LTSC – Long Term Servicing Channel – version is configured to delay feature updates and only provide security updates; it is intended for “special purpose devices.”) The free trial period is 90 days.

2. Make sure you have VirtualBox installed! I’ll assume you have some familiarity with VirtualBox for the rest of these posts. If you don't, check out the full Kevtech video, or NetworkChuck’s introductory VM video to get started.

3. Create your two new VMs in VirtualBox. (I gave each 4 GB of RAM, and the preset amount of storage space.) Then start up both machines and go through the usual installation process. Select ‘Custom Install’ instead of ‘Upgrade Install,’ and click 'Next' right on through. Again, reference Kevtech’s video if you want a more detailed look at the process, but the on-screen instructions are quite simple.

At the ‘Sign in with Microsoft’ page on the Windows 10 Enterprise VM, choose ‘Domain join instead,’ down in the left-hand corner. Set up a username and password and log right into the machine; we’ll join it to the domain later on.

Create usernames and passwords and log in to both VMs.

4. (Optional) Windows Server requires you to hit Ctrl+Alt+Del every time you want to log in. This doesn’t work in VirtualBox (it will apply it to your host computer instead of the VM). I found a workaround to disable that feature - there's a quick option (from this video) and a way to permanently disable it (from this video):

Quick Option:

Just to hold down the RIGHT Ctrl key, and then hit Delete

You could also click on ‘Input’ on the VirtualBox toolbar, then Keyboard > Insert Ctrl+Alt+Del

To Disable Permanently

5. Install Guest Additions on both machines once they are up and running. Guest Additions enable a few helpful features on VirtualBox VMs, like a larger display instead of the initial low resolution version. Here’s how:

Go to the VirtualBox toolbar, click on Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD Image

On the VM, go to File Explorer > This PC > CD Drive (D:) VirtualBox Guest Additions > VboxWindowsAdditions

6. Kevtech suggests renaming the PCs for easier reference. Here’s how:

File Explorer > right-click on This PC > Properties > Rename this PC

Now your VMs are ready to go! In part 2, we’ll look at setting up Active Directory and adding our Enterprise VM to the domain.



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