Paying homage to its powerful predecessors like Win Server 2000 and 2003, Windows Server 2012 R2 is Microsoft’s penultimate edition to the family with familiar technologies such as Active Directory, DNS, DHCP and Group Policy that administrators have grown to love and organisations frankly can’t do without.

The 2012 edition according to Microsoft has cloud platform vision at its heart with greater flexibility and agility enhancements in virtualization, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, access and information protection, web application platforms and much more. 

If you are aiming at a 70-410 certification in this technology, this document contains detailed information about all the various aspects of configurations required to pass the exam and become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA).

Windows Server 2012 R2 Editions

This server operating system comes in a few flavours and depending on what you intend to do with it, a few editions of the software exists with varying virtualization capabilities suitable for organizations of any size. Unlike previous versions, Server 2012 Standard Edition comes with the full functionality with the only difference from Data Center Editions being the ability to have more virtual machines.

As most of the interactions you going to have with your server will be remote, server core installation helps take advantage of the Remote Desktop Manager feature. The figure below elaborates the editions bit more:

     1.   Installing Windows Server 2012

So here we are at the beginning of our journey into the wonderful world of Windows Server 2012. As an administrator, you can decide on the deployment technique you want for your server infrastructure be it installing directly on a server hardware or deploying into a virtual environment such as VMware or Oracle Virtual Box with .ISO image of the software; any of those platforms will be ideal for our learning purposes today. To manage your .ISO files, download here:

Bear in mind though that Windows Server 2012 has some minimum hardware requirements to run optimally:

  ü  Processor Speed – 1.4 GHz
  ü  Memory (RAM) – 512 MB
  ü  Disk Space – 32 GB
  ü  Virtualization Supported Hardware

Installation of the software itself is nothing new so we are not going to spend much time on that. If you are unfamiliar with it, a quick Google search will bring up numerous results to help with your installation whether you have a full licensed copy or a 180 day evaluation version from Microsoft which can be found here:

During the installation, you will be prompted to choose an administrator password. Microsoft enforces the use of a combination of special characters, upper case letters and numbers to create a strong password. The server manager will be launched as default once Windows Server 2012 installation is complete.

The server manager is where all your configurations for managing Windows Server 2012 will happen. Base configurations such as Computer name, Domain, Firewall status, Ethernet IPV4 or IPV6 addresses and the option to enable the server to accept remote connections can all be set up in the Local Server interface.

Notice on the left side of the server manager are the tabs to manager Active Directory Domain Services, DHCP, DNS and File and Storage Services. This article will be exploring what all those services function and the configuration steps to get them up and running.

Be advised as this a learning environment we are working in, I would advise to turn off your Firewall as you may run into some issues configuring some of the services or features of Windows server 2012. Of course this is not something you would like to do as an administrator in the real work environment, so remember to turn it back on after you are done configuring your required features.

2.   Setting Up IPV4 Addresses on Windows Server 2012 

A very crucial part when setting up your Windows server is to configure the IP address that would form the bases of identifying the server as well as other devices being able to communicate with your server. You will find for example that the ability do remote access your server will depend on the address you have assigned. Notice by default, the IP address is provided via DHCP and we want to change that.

To do this, Click on the Ethernet IPV4 link on the Server Manager > Network Connections > Right Click and Choose Properties > Highlight IPV4 and select Properties.

You can now assign a static IP address of your choice bearing in mind the network you are currently on, For example If you are not sure what network you have, simply launch command line on your host machine and type in ipconfig to display your IP address and the default gateway which will be the address your router uses to reach the rest of the internet. Snapshot can be found below. 

      3.   Installing Active Directory Domain Services

Simply known as AD DS, Active Directory Domain Services is a powerful tool responsible for storing data used to manage communications between users and domains, this includes logon processes, authentication and directory searches. An Active Directory domain controller is a server that is running AD DS. 

To set this up, click on the dashboard and select Add Roles and Features to launch the wizard. 

Notice above there are two types of installation you can choose to configure a single server roles, services and features, as well as remote services installation for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

The next screen lets you choose the server to install AD and if you manage multiple servers, these will appear here for selection then click next. 

The next screen shows all the server roles you can choose to install. We at this stage are only interested in AD DS so tick the box and click next to proceed.

Notice I dialogue box pops up on screen informing you of other tools which are needed for AD DS to function properly. In previous versions of Windows server, you will have to manually go back and install all those features such as Group Policy Management tools in order to proceed but this time, Microsoft has streamlined this task by automatically adding these tools as part of the installation.

Click Add Features to proceed with the installation of Active Directory Domain Services

On this screen, you get to see some more information on AD DS and some other features such as DNS server required to run Windows Server 2012 successfully.

The final confirmation screen presents you with an option to restart the destination servers automatically; you can tick this box if you have remote servers somewhere you are managing in this console but bear in mind, any users or computers connected will be kicked while the reboot happens.

 The installation should now be complete with a notification requiring additional steps to make your server the main domain controller. Click in the blue link to configure your domain. 

In this section you are presented with three deployment options to add a domain controller to an existing domain, add a new domain to an existing forest or add a new forest. Since some of these terminologies may be new to some users, let’s take a closer look at some of them before we proceed.

Logical Components of Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

In this section, we will examine some of the terminologies associated with Active Directory Domain Services. As you use Windows Server more regularly, you will become familiar with these features and the functions they provide in the management of servers.

Partition – A logical section of the actual AD DS.

Schema – This defines all the attributes for all the objects in Active Directory.

Site – A collection of Active Directory objects defined by their physical location.

Organisational Units (OU) – Containers in AD DS that provide a framework for administration and Group Policy links.

Domain – The core administrative units of AD DS.

Tree – A collection of domains that share a common DNS namespace.

Forest – A collection of one or more Active Directory domains that share a common logical structure, directory schema, directory configuration and global catalogue. 

Physical Components of Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

Domain Controllers – This contains copies of the AD DS database.

Data Store – The physical file on each domain controller that stores the AD DS information.

Global Catalog Servers – Domain controllers which host the global catalog, which is a partial, read-only copy of all the objects in the forest.

Read- only Domain Controllers (RODC) – Contains a special read- only copy of the AD DS database which can be used in environments where security is priority and administers want no one to make changes to the database file. 

                                               Time Out 

Well done if you’ve made it this far, you must be excited as I am about delving even deeper into the powerful capabilities of the Windows 2012 R2 operating system framework.

It is extremely important to take regular breaks from a lengthy stare at a computer screen.  

We’ll see you back here after your break for the next lesson in User Account Management.   

                                   Credits to all organisations and development teams at Microsoft Corporation 

                                                       Twitter: @ixploitsecurity

For individuals interested in knowledge for certification in VCP (VMware Certified Professional) and DCV (Data Center Virtualization), this tutorial will give you a clear, hands-on approach to achieving your goals.

Please be aware to pursue a certification as a VCP, VMware requires you to take an online or physical class with an official authorised agent, a list of which can be found on the VMware website.  

Virtual Machines
Imagine being beamed into the world of virtual reality, where you can experience multiple content and signals on a large scale from your living room as if you were present at the scene, just by wearing some advanced goggles fitted with sensors. Impossible once upon a time, right?

Now think about your old computer with the usual components such as ROM, BIOS, CMOS, drivers and peripherals such as mouse, keyboard, USB and monitor that need to be present for a successful boot into an operating system.
What if a hardware can be tricked by software to believe all these parameters are present to create the perfect illusion of a traditional environment? That’s what Hypervisors are.

Hypervisors are a type of system normally in software capable of emulating resources to enable successful booting of operating systems such as Windows or Linux. As far as the operating system is concerned, the components required for it to function are present such as processors, RAM, keyboards etc.

Types of Hypervisors
There are generally two types namely Bare-Metal Hypervisors, where a hardware computer has the hypervisor installed and is hosting two or more operating systems running as guest virtual machines. An example of a Type 1 hypervisor is VMware ESXi installed on a host machine.

Type 2 hypervisors are where the computer is already running an operating system such as Windows, Linux or MAC OS. You can run virtualized operating system environments using software such as VMware workstation, Fusion, Oracle’s Virtual Box and GNS3 for emulating network environments.  

                                        Illustration of Type - 1 and Type - 2 Hypervisors

1  1.   Installation of VMware Workstation with OS (Hypervisor Type-2)

If you’re serious about studying VMware all the way, it is advisable to register for a free account, which can be done using this link;

Carrying out this important task comes with some advantages, such as downloading Workstation and ESXi software, getting access to software licenses, joining a community of experts and also accessing information on training and exams for certification as VCP and DCV.

The current version of Workstation is 12 but installing earlier versions, like 10, will be adequate for this task. Remember this is a demonstration of a Type-2 Hypervisor so an operating system would have already been running on a host before the hypervisor is installed. Think of it like an onion inside another onion when we install additional operating systems in the hypervisor VMware Workstation.

To save space, I would recommend downloading an .iso file of Android x86 for this task, a link to the file on Sourceforge can be found here;

Once downloaded, place the file in a location on your computer and fire up VMware Workstation. 

At the top left corner, click File and select New Virtual Machine to display the set-up wizard above.

Select Typical Installation and click Next to continue the set up with the screen displayed below. 

Here, you’ll be presented with a few installation options such as Installing from a Disc, installing from an .iso file or you can even choose to install the operating system later. Since we already have an .iso file we downloaded earlier, select (.iso) and browse to the location of your file. Click Next to proceed.

At this stage, you get to name your virtual machine and you may change the location where the installation files are stored on your host machine. 

Choose an appropriate name, so it is easy to identify if you intend to install many virtual machines in the future. Click next to proceed with the installation. 

By default, 20GB of HDD space from your host machine is allocated to create your new virtual machine.
You are presented with the option to store your virtual disk as a single file or split it into multiple files.

The idea for choosing the split disk option is that some operating systems have maximum file size limits such as 2GB limit for Fat32 file types, having a split disk will ensure the machine can write excess files onto the multiple disks instead of being limited to one single virtual disk.

Using a configuration process known as Thin Provisioning ensures not all of the 20GB is used up at once. For example, if only 4GB is required, it releases the space to be used by other OS that require it.

You can now check the settings of your virtual machine and customize the hardware by changing the amount of HDD, RAM and networking options if required. Click finish to power on your virtual machine. 

The virtual machine is now ready to boot and you will be presented with a few options to run your operating system. For the purposes of this task, select Install Android – x86 to hard disk and hit Enter.

Remember to switch control from host machine to virtual machine, hold down Ctrl + Alt and click in the virtual machine workspace to use your keyboard and mouse to send inputs. 

1 On the first step, you get to create/modify partitions

2 Create a primary partition using all of the 20GB allocated space.

3 Select New to create new partition from free space.

4 Select Write to partition table. Prompt data will be destroyed, which is fine.

5 Once the Write operation is complete, you can select the partition to install Android OS.

6 Choose the ext3 filesystem to format the partition.

7 Validate partition and select Yes to format sda1.

 8 Choose Yes to install /system directory as read-write.

9 Select Yes to install boot loader GRUB to enable successful boot of the operating system.

10 Wait for a moment while the Android operating system files install.

11 If the set-up configuration goes to plan, you should see this screen signifying your install has been successful.

This concludes the installation of Android OS in VMware workstation as a Type-2 hypervisor. You should now be able to see the Android virtual machine on the left pane of your application, where you have the option to tweak any settings you want for your new machine. Booted interface should look like the image below. 

Test the functionality by launching the browser and accessing your favourite websites. 

           VMware Education Packages & More Information 

As we discussed earlier in this lesson, you stand to gain a lot by registering for an account with VMware

Similarly, if you decide to pursue any certification in the direction of VCP (VMware Certified Professional) and DCV (Data Center Virtualization), you are required to take an online or physical class from an authorised agent. Please visit the website for more information.

Typically, a training course in VMware vSphere: Install, Configure and Management will cost about £3,192.00 with the vSphere Foundations Exam Number: 2V0-620 costing about £276.00

You are welcome to join us as we delve even deeper into more advanced configurations of VMware to help sharpen your skills as you prepare for your exams or career as an engineer. 

As always, don’t forget to teach your fingers by practice, practice and more practice!

Thank you for investing your time with us. 

                                      Written By:

                                               Twitter: @ixploitsecurity

                                         Credits to all organisations and development teams at VMware Incorporated.

                                                                     Download click to begin 976KB .pdf

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