DSC Lab using Brix

After listening to Don rant about learning DSC, and using a Brix for a portable lab, I picked one up and am impatiently awaiting its delivery to my desk. Don’s rant was rather inspiring. That said, part of the initial reason I bought it is to have a portable lab and to learn DSC. I guess what I’m looking for is recommendations with where to begin with it. I’m assuming a hypervisor of course, but any recommendations as to what kinds of VM’s I should spin up on it?

I’m also starting to read the DSC ebook that Don and crew are working on, but I haven’t made it real far there yet. There may be recommendations in there as well, I just haven’t made it that far.

Many thanks in advance!

I run Hyper-V on mine - keep in mind that’s free. I actually stood up PowerShell Web Access on it, too. Hyper-V is a pain to manage from a non-domain computer, so this way I can remote, via PWA, into the BRIX and run Hyper-V commands.

From there, I have a DC, two member servers, and a client computer VM. I have scripts pre-staged (I use this for demos a lot, remember) that turn one of the member servers into a pull server, and then configure the other to pull a config from it. All the servers run Server Core and I only give them 512MB of RAM; the client gets about a 1.5GB. Fits very handily in the 16GB I installed! If I want to demo push config, the DC is there for that.

You can do all of that with trial software, of course, if you don’t mind it expiring. As an MVP I get an MSDN subscription, and it’s definitely nice to have that to work with. Frankly, I’d buy the subscription, as expensive as it is, if I had to - it’s just too useful to my job.

Awesome! Great advice and starting points for me. Very much appreciated. MSDN will have to wait, but I’m perfectly content with trial software for now.

Many thanks for the quick response!

Just had a thought from a logistics perspective. You’re using it for demos, which means you’re changing networks constantly. Do you run it headless, and have it setup to do ad hoc networking or something? Something I hadn’t thought of, but I’m going to run into that situation myself since I want it to be extremely portable, and potentially one day doing demos myself.

Thanks again!

EDIT: Just had a thought that may have answered my own question. Hardwired, running a DC, dishing out DHCP. That would make sense.

I do run it headless. I actually carry a small Apple Airport with me, which the BRIX and an Apple TV plug into. I usually position them near the projector, and then use AirPlay to send my laptop screen to the Apple TV. The laptop uses WiFi to get on the same network. That way I can RDP into the VMs, and use PWA to get to the host (the Brix itself). It also means I don’t need to carry around as many dongles and crap for video.

All of the VMs run on a private virtual switch - they don’t have Internet connectivity. It’s rare that I can get reliable Internet in a class or conference center, so I just assume it won’t be there and don’t rely on it. I have an ISO attached to the VMs with everything I might need - DSC modules, SQL Express installer, sample scripts, KB2883200, all that.

Wow… Awesome info! Many many thanks! Gives me a lot of stuff to slowly build to when I get to that point, but also great ideas on how to deal with my situation currently as well…

Thanks again!

I see what you mean about Hyper-V being a pain from a non-domain machine. Egads! And of course, the machines (laptop and Hyper-V) are non-domain, and won’t be domain, and I don’t like some of the guides I’ve seen. I’m going to have to dig into that at a later time.

Would there be any particular reason for Hyper-V versus, say, VMware? Or just personal preference?


With hyper v I can install PWA And manage from the client via web browser. Using PowerShell. Go for the gusto, man.

Time to research it! If I can install PWA right on top of Hyper-V, and ultimately do everything I need without having to worry about using Hyper-V Manager, I’m all for it. I’ll figure this out!

Still learning here, and have a little to play around with it. I’m assuming unattended install so that you can spin up a VM and basically have it assigned an IP address and stuff so you don’t actually need console then, correct? Another aspect of things I haven’t played with, which is good, because now I learn even more… :slight_smile: Time to do some more searching to find answers… Loving this though!

I actually set the VM up to a point manually and then snapshot that. That way part of what I demo is doing the rest with DSC. Then roll back and start over. I wrote some commands on the host that shortcut the snapshot and rollback process, and for unlocking the VM when I want to make sticky changes.

Ah, gotcha. I think that’s going to be a little more than what I can do initially, but it gives me good ideas for where to go. I think I may start with the unattended install to get it up to bare bones, and then go from there, at least for one machine. Maybe I’ll set up another on my laptop partially and then transfer it over to the Brix. Give me different aspects to see and play with.

Thanks again!

For those following along, the lab is finally starting to come together… I’ve now got the Brix running Server Core/Hyper-V. I have one VM up and running right now that is running as a DC/DNS box, also running Server Core. Next up are getting DHCP going, setting up another member server or three, and getting a client in place. Then, DSC.

Took me a bit to fully grasp the power of PSWA. Was wondering once I got the VM copied over to the Brix, how to configure it and set it up without having to do it all from my laptop. Duh, PS from PSWA.

Yep, definitely blame Don for all of this… It’s been well worth it so far though! Thanks again, Don!