Since the start of 2012 I’ve been working on a big community project. The project is the AutoLab and it is a tool to make it easy to build a vSphere lab environment for learning and testing.  The lab runs a VMs on your existing laptop or desktop under VMware Workstation, Fusion or ESXi and the magic is in the automation of the parts.

The project lives at where you can download the pre-built (mostly empty shell) VMs and the deployment guide that will help you with the initial setup.

Being a freely distributed download it doesn’t contain any licensed software, you need to bring your own vSphere and Windows installers.

I’m very proud of the AutoLab and even more proud of the community that is contributing back into the project.  Particularly the ongoing help of my vBrownBag brother Damian Karlson. The vCloud and vSphere 5.1 builds were done by people who use the AutoLab and increasing portions of the documentation are being produced or polished by community members.

The AutoLab has helped many people achieve VCP and VCAP-DCA certifications, since hands on experience is so important to learning. I am surprised by the uptake, one of the interesting measures is the number of hits on the web site, over ten thousand in January 2013 alone. There have also been AutoLab presentations at a dozen VMUG meetings around the world and at VMworld in the vBrownBag community TechTalks.

10 Responses to AutoLab

  1. Pandora says:

    Hi Alastair ;

    Thanks for all your work to setup the AutoLab project.

    I am trying to implement the AutoLab which to be used for my vcp-dca exam. I am able to build NAS. When I built the DC, I came across “The BIOS in this system is not fully ACPI compliant” with stop error. I have reset the BIOS on the DC vm to the default but still without success. I also built a new vm with the same 2008 ISO on the same workstation which encounter no issue.

    I hope you can provide me some hints to resolve ACPI compliant issue. I really looking forward having the AutoLab setup and prepare for my exam. Thanks for any of your insight.

    Best regards;

  2. Alastair says:

    Hi Pandora,

    I haven’t seen that error message before & the technet article I found isn’t very useful

    I presume you have tried another copy of the DC VM from a fresh download of the AutoLab.
    You could use the VM you have created to be a replacement DC.
    The only requirement for the DC build automation is to have a floppy disk on the VM and connect the dc.flp, boot from the CDROM with the floppy connected & the DC automated build will happen. Make sure the new VM used the VMNet3 network and change the boot order to HDD then CDROM, Floppy last.

    Good luck.


  3. Ravi Venkatasubbaiah says:


    Autolab is a very helpful tool, thanks for your work on it.

  4. I really appreciate AutoLab and effort you did. Great Job!

  5. Alastair,
    AutoLab is a great way to get your very own VMware vSphere Lab environment and it was very helpful during my preparation for the VCP5-DCV exam. Thank you very much for your efforts!

  6. first time i use autolab but i like it

  7. Mustafa says:

    Have been using this for long for preparing my VCAP it has helped me alot.
    Thank you for your effort for deploying and updating each release.

  8. Amith says:

    Autolab is an AWESOME project. Really appreciate all the effort put on to that project. It’s a poor man’s paradise in VMware world.

  9. Geoff Neish says:

    Nice job making this tool and the price is perfect. Thanks

  10. Maciej says:

    Hi Alastair,

    I was recently reading about Autolab and I thought that my recent work would be really helpful for all persons learning SRM/VRM, vRA/OpenStack and other mass deployment/DR scenarios where size of a VM matters (this applies in particular for homelabs). I made a very small VM which is based on TinyCore and has a very small footprint (48MB RAM, 64MB HDD, 19MB when thin-provisioned). You may want to take a look at it here:

    Feel free to add it to Autolab if you find it useful.

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