Author Archives: Alastair Cooke

AutoLab YouTube Channel

We now have a YouTube Channel for AutoLab videos. You can find the channel here.

To start off I’ve posted a video on setting up the networking under Fusion Pro 5 for the AutoLab and another with the initial setup and populating the build share on the same MAC, right up to building the domain controller VM.

I plan to put up more videos around the initial setup and builds, on Workstation, ESXi and VMware Player.

AutoLab V1.5 with vSphere 5.5 support

It is finally here, the long awaited AutoLab build with support for vSphere 5.5 is available for your downloading pleasure at the AutoLab home page.

The addition of v5.5 support is the headline item here, along with a fair bit of cleanup. The big change is that ESXi 5.5 wants 4GB of RAM before it will install, not a problem if you have 16GB of RAM in your physical machine, but those still using 8GB will need to reduce each ESXi VMs RAM to 2GB after it builds.

vSphere 5.5 brings VSAN, so there are now three ESXi VMs in the lab. Each is configured with three disks, one for boot, one tagged as SSD and the final as a normal disk. To get VSAN to configure you will need all three ESXi servers built & they will need their RAM increased to 6GB each (24GB physical required) but after that VSAN deploys normally.

I’ve also added support for View 5.2 & 5.3 since these have shipped since I started the new build. SRM support is a work in progress, you will find signs of the work in this build but it is still a little way off. The deployment guide has been reworked a little so it’s flow is a little clearer and formatted to be prettier than the eBook format I experimented with.

I have a laundry list of fixes and enhancements that I will add to AutoLab in the coming months. Big thanks to Infinio for their support which will enable me to take some time off to do this work. If you would like to contribute to AutoLab or have suggestions of ways to make it easier get in touch via or contact me on Twitter @DemitasseNZ.

Have fun.

Big news for AutoLab

It has been a bit quiet on the public side of AutoLab for a while, mostly because my day job has been getting in the way of developing the new version of AutoLab with vSphere 5.5 support. The new release is almost ready, some final testing and documentation updates so the next couple of weeks should see AutoLab 1.5 released.


The big news for this week is that AutoLab has a new sponsor, my friends at Infinio are helping to enable me to spend some more time developing AutoLab and generally make the project better. If you haven’t heard about Infinio I suggest you take a look at their site, the basics of the product is that it can alleviate NFS storage performance issues on ESXi servers. One potential customer I saw last year was spending a lot of money on more disk shelves for their aging NFS array just to get better performance, the Infinio caching could have given them a much more graceful solution to the problem for less money.

Infinio have their own big news today, the release of Infinio Accelerator version 1.2, which add support for ESXi5.5. Of special interest is that they are giving away a limited number of licenses for home lab use. If your home lab is based around a low end NAS with SATA disks as shared storage you already know that this is a bottleneck, adding the Infinio accelerator will improve storage performance. You can enter the giveaway by filling in this form on Infinio’s site.

One of the things that makes me happy about the Infinio support is that we finally have a logo for AutoLab which you may see on shirts and buttons at future events.

AutoLab color  leftside 72 dpi

Stay tuned for the AutoLab v1.5 release post


AutoLab v1.1a released

A new build of the AutoLab is available, this is mainly a bug fix release but there is a headline feature:

vCloud Director v5.1 is now included in the AutoLab.

You can download from the usual page in all the usual formats and as always I’ve tried to resolve the top issues I see on the forums.

One other new thing is that the deployment guide is now available as an eBook, already available on Amazon and it should also turn up on other major eBook marketplaces over the next few days, simply search for “vSphere 5 AutoLab 1.1a Deployment Guide”. Amazon wouldn’t let me publish the guide for free, so it will cost you 99 US cents. The deployment guide is also available as a PDF from the download page at no cost.

In the near future I will be publishing some actual Lab Guides! The first ones will be for people who have attended the vSphere 5 Install Configure Manage courses and want to use the AutoLab to repeat the course labs.  I also plan on some guidance on labs to help you prep for VCP5 and VCAP5-DCA exams, although those are a little further away.

AutoLab 1.1 released

It has taken a while to bring together but it’s finally out.  The fourth release of the AutoLab in 2012 is available for download from the AutoLab page.

Building on the features of AutoLab 0.5, 0.8 and 1.0 this release adds the new vSphere release as well as a lot of improvements driven by issues people have been reporting on the forums.

Main new features:

  • vSphere 5.1 support, thanks to Grant Orchard
  • NAS updated to FreeNAS 0.8
  • Builds work with any service pack of Windows 2008R2
  • Nested VMs build from customised ISO created during VC build process
  • Better validation of ESXi 5.0 vs ESXi 5.0U1 at build time.

Like all projects there are still things requiring requiring work

  • vCloud 5.1
  • Veeam VM builds still require 2008R2 SP1
  • Deployment of trusted certificates as part of build
  • Better automation of the View configurations
  • New View update versions
  • Site Recovery Manager

I’ve had an amazing year with AutoLab and vBrownBag, looking forward to a great 2013.

VMworld Tech Talks “UnSupported” and AutoLab

One of the many cool things that is going on in the community area of VMworld next week is Randy Keener’s Unsupported sessions.  These are a forum to advance the community’s knowledge of how do do things that VMware never thought you’d want to do with their products.

The sessions run 1pm until 3pm each day, surrounded by the vBownBag Tech Talks sessions, the schedule is on the Tech Talks schedule page

The TechTalks are brief sessions of community generated wisdom and excitement, they will be live streamed and available recorded at It’s not too late to get your session in, but you will need to email or tweet to one of the vBrownBag team as the signup form has closed.

I’m taking part in the Tuesday session where we will spend the whole two hours looking at AutoLab and nested ESXi.  If you want to get started on AutoLab or if you’ve gotten started but then got stuck this is your chance. Bring your laptop and do some lab time in the community lounge.

The VMware Workstation and Fusion product teams will be joining us for the sessions and there is a rumour that they will be giving away product!

Bring your lunch, your Laptop and your Windows and vSphere ISOs. Veterans of past VMworld will tell you not to expect reliable Internet access while you’re on the show floor, so you need to bring these with you rather than try to download while you’re there. We can get you the AutoLab bits but you will need to bring your own Microsoft and VMware software. The good news is you probably already have these, here’s the list of software to bring:

  • vCenter 5.0 Install DVD
  • ESXi 5.0 Install CDROM
  • VMware PowerCLI installer
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 ISO
  • Microsoft Windows 2003 Server 32bit CDROM ISO

We will be doing demos and building real labs, it should be a lot of fun. One thing we might try to do is a Microsoft free nested ESXi lab. How much can we do without the Windows vSphere client?

To be clear this is not access to the VMworld Hand on Labs, it is your own lab that you build on your own laptop.

AutoLab 1.0 Released

The AutoLab is a small package with big potential. What it contains, is a number of “shell” VMs that can be run up in VMware Workstation, Fusion or ESXi. When fed with the operating systems ISOs from VMware and Microsoft, it automatically provisions a powerful test environment with almost no effort required.

Only needing a modest machine to run, the AutoLab provides a modular approach to testing where only the needed components are installed. The core lab can run on a single PC, a dual core 64bit CPU and a minimum of 8GB RAM, along with around 100GB of free disk space.

Veeam have generously sponsored this release, and we highly recommend using the AutoLab to test and evaluate their Veeam ONE and Veeam Backup & Replication products. LabGuides plan on having some study / training material that can be used alongside the AutoLab for learning purposes also.

If you have been following along with the AutoLab since v0.5 there’s a couple of big enhancements with this release, most notably support for VMware vCloud Director and VMware View.

Support for the AutoLab is now handled in our Thanks very much to our team of volunteer moderators that will help you get unstuck should you get caught in a bind.

You’re still reading? Head on over to grab AutoLab 1.0 now!