Create a Virtual Training Server

by Mike on May 14, 2009

in Training

Virtual Training Server Lab

The purpose of a Training Server is to provide you with a learning device that will allow you to practice skills that you must master for  Server Administration.   A virtual server using VMWare Player and using a config file to create your own uniquely designed Training Server is a great way to learn skills.  This is a fast an Free option that you can use on Linux and Windows hosts.  This tutorial will show you how to perform a VMWare installation so that you may learn these skills on a practice server before you are working on a production server.

Download the  Server CD of the Distro You Want
You will use the CD to create a virtual machine that you can use for practice. Place the burned .iso into your CDROM.  You also have the option to just use the .iso file that you downloaded.
Download the VMWare Player: Either Linux or Windows
The VMWare player is free and will allow you to create virtual machines to work on.

You may choose to install the player on a Linux box or on a Windows box.  Follow the site instructions for the installation.

Create a VMX File to Create Your Virtual Machine
The site, provides a way for you to configure a file that you can use to build your server.  The most important key is that you create two virtual drives so that you have options to create partitions that you may place RAID and LVM on.

Here is a quote from the site:
” EasyVMX! is the simple and failsafe way to create complete virtual machines for VMware Player on the web.You can install any Windows, Linux, BSD or Solaris, and test LiveCDs in a safe environment.”
Choose the Option for EasyVMX, the first option as it will allow you to create multiple virtual drives which will be valuable for training. The first option allows you to create a name for your virtual machine. For the GuestOS select the Generic Linux 2.6.x and use with with any Linux distro and all works fine. Be sure to select multiple CPUs only if you have them as it will not work except with your real number of CPUs.   Be generous with RAM if you have it, here the example is 512 which will work fine.



Enter a description of your virtual machine. The Network options allow you to use multiple network cards as well if you are going to use NAT, Network Address Translation, bridged or just one host. NAT provides a way of hiding the network of your connection and works easily. If you used bridged you will have to ensure that you have an IP Address for the network the host is on. Use the Intel network card as it has worked flawlessly.


If you have a floppy you can have it detect the floppy. You certainly want to set up the CDROM as you will need it to install the OS. Auto Detect works great but you may find that it will work best with selecting the actual CD/DVD that you will boot from. Also select the .iso, that way you do not need to burn the CD for it to work.


Select two hard drives so that you have the option to create drive space like you want. There are many different sizes which provide larger images. Make them SCSI drives by selecting that option.

If you enable the USB you will be able to transfer files to the virtual machine using a usb flash drive.


Click Create Virtual Machine and you will be able to download a small text file. The text file is a zipped file and you will have to right click and unzip it. Extract it in a location that you want the virtual machine to be in. Extract and select view all files.  You of course can also build this on a Linux host with VMWare Player.


When it is done you can dig into the directory created and you will see a number of files available. Once you have VMWare Player installed you can double click on the *.vmx file and it will start.


Please note: When it starts it will look for either an .iso burned into a CD/DVD or a .iso file so that you can create your own training server.

Build Your Virtual Server
Once you have your virtual machine starting the install follow the process just like a normal install until you get to the drives. You must leave one drive unpartitioned and unused. This will be the drive you can use to practice on while not doing damage to the main installation. When you get to hard drive partitioning choose Manual.

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