Building an Active Directory Domain Controller for Development using VMware Workstation – Pt. 1

So I guess earlier this year someone was going through my post for setting up a development environment and called it useless because the post didn’t discuss setting up an Windows Server AD (Active Directory) Domain Controller.  They called the post useless, but I figured there are a ton of posts out there for setting up DC’s (Domain Controllers).  Oh well, since they complained and I haven’t posted anything in a while, I decided to write a tutorial on setting up AD for development purposes.  I suppose that you can also use this post to set up a production system, but I’m not going into AD Policies and such in this post.

For this tutorial, I’m going to be using VMware Workstation 6.5.2 build 156735, and by the end of the tutorial, you should have a step-by-step roadmap to setting up a DC for development.  I’ll be installing Windows Server 2003 R2, not 2008, but the steps for a Windows Server 2008 DC are very similar and if someone requests it, I’ll post pics of the Windows Server 2008 steps.

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If you’re using an earlier version of VMware Workstation, or a different product for virtualization —hiss— :), you will likely have to manually configure some of the settings in creating the VM, and installing the OS will require more interaction.

To begin, I’ll start by setting up the virtual machine.

1. Starting in VMware Workstation, click on File > New > Virtual Machine, or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL – N.


2. Leave the default, ‘Typical’ configuration selected and click ‘Next’.


3. Choose your installation media.  I’m installing from an .ISO file (disk image file) that is standard for MSDN downloads and readily used for installing software to virtual environments.  Then click ‘Next’.  You can also choose the option to install the operating system later if you’d like, but I’m not following that step.


4. Enter your product key and user information, then click ‘Next’.  NOTE:  I’ve never used this wizard for setup and installation before, so we’ll see how it works out.


5. Enter your virtual machine name and location to save the VM’s files.  Click ‘Next’.


6.  Set your VM maximum disk size to 16GB.  This should give you plenty of space for installations and updates.  Click ‘Next’.


7 and 8.  Click on ‘Customize Hardware’, which will open a new window.  Make any hardware adjustments that you see fit.  For this virtual machine (VM), I select ‘Memory’ in the pane on the left, and adjust the memory on the right to 256MB.  The default/suggested memory is 384MB minimum, but for domain controller purposes – specifically for a development environment, you don’t need the extra overhead so why waste the resources.  Click ‘Ok’ after you’ve made your adjustments.



9.  Leave ‘Power on this virutal machine after creation’ checked, and click on ‘Finish’.


‘Easy install’ will then begin installing the OS on the VM.  Go grab a cup of coffee, hit up Facebook or Twitter, read some of my other blog entries, leave some comments, or whatever you do to kill time during an install.  This install took just under 25 minutes on my system.


VMware Workstation logs into the VM and installs the VMware Tools.


10. The installer will then ask, within the VM, if you would like to set your hardware acceleration.  Click ‘Yes’.  Follow the instructions presented in HWaccel.txt within the VM.  Do NOT restart yet.  Adjust your screen resolution as you see fit.



Then click ‘Yes’ to restart the VM.


After the VM restarts, press CTRL-ALT-Insert (VMware only) to log into the VM using the password that you configured during the setup for the administrator account.

11.  At this point, it would be a good thing to run through all the automatic updates.  This helps bring your server up to production level with patches and fixes.  I typically use all recommended updates via the Express button in the update wizard.


NOTE: You can disable the Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration (not pictured), by going to ‘Start’ > ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Add / Remove Programs’. Click on ‘Add / Remove Windows Components’ in the left pane.  Scroll down the list and uncheck Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration.  Click ‘Next’.  I do this for all of my development environments as it can be a royal pain in the arse.  Click ‘Finish’ when available.

After updates, you can also install an AV (anti-virus) program if you want to, for development, it’s typically not necessary, but completely up to you.  If you are planning on using this server as a live server, in a connected or production environment, I suggest installing one.

Click on ‘Finish’ after you’re done updating.  It may have required a reboot or two.


Your VM is now ready to be configured as a Active Directory Domain Controller.  We’ll be configuring a few items in the next section that I use regularly and include in all of my DC (Domain Controller) deployments for development.

You can also choose to rename your server to something more easily remembered if you want to.

Part 2 – Coming up Here’s the link for Pt. 2.


3 thoughts on “Building an Active Directory Domain Controller for Development using VMware Workstation – Pt. 1”

  1. Nice article.
    I use your info to build a demo platform for Sharepoint 2010!!
    Using nat and 3 virtual images (VMWARE) hosted in my windows 7.
    I reference you my italian blog.

  2. Nice article. do you have part 2? I need to make sure 2nd or 3rd vm can be part of the AD thats on vm as well?

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