AutoLab to create quick test labs

One of the best way to learn how to do things in the field of technology is to actually get your hands dirty and practice doing something. That’s one method I have followed for years and has helped me learn most of what I know today.

One way that helps do this is with creating virtual machines through software like Hyper-V or VMware or another program to help build and run things locally on your own machine. I’ve been doing this for a while, but it’s always a struggle I find to quickly spin up machines with certain things enabled and configured a certain way.

I’ve tried different methods in the past to help streamline things like this, but the other day I was made aware of a project on GitHub that really looks like it could be a great help for people who need things built a certain way quickly.

The project is called AutoLab and was created by Jason Helmick b|t a great trainer who has made some fantastic online courses through Pluralsight and other venues as well.

I’ve watched several of his PowerShell training videos in the past to help learn new things, but I think there is some real value here in AutoLab. It only works in Hyper-V but it even helps enable it on a Windows box as part of the installation process.

The basis of the project is another GitHub project called Lability.

The features of this project combine PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) to use config files and other functions to quickly build up a lab, refresh a lab, take a snapshot of multiple VM’s at once, and even when you are done then tear down the entire lab in one command.

HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!! Very awesome indeed!

Right now there are many configurations that people have added to in order to setup different scenarios.

I think there’s some great potential here for this to quickly build up test labs when you need to learn a particular skill or subset of features on a new product.

If you get a chance, check it out and try it out and give feedback to the creators.

I’m going to do my part to help this take off because it’s a great idea!

Thanks and enjoy!




Creating sample data for SharePoint with SPDG

If you work like I do trying to setup test environments in SharePoint often, the experience is great when you finally get all the bells and whistles activated for the features you need to test, but then what?

Now you have a great looking environment with no data! A SharePoint farm with no data in it is like a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips in it. You might as well throw it away and go get something else to eat.

Never fear though as I have recently discovered a great tool that can auto generate much of the content needed to flesh out a SharePoint farm and it happen to be an open source project on GitHub created by the same fine folks that created SPDocKit!

It’s called SPDG (short for SharePoint Data Generator) and it’s another awesome tool to add to your arsenal if you don’t already use it.

Just head over to Github at the following link and check it out here!

Below is an example screenshot to give you an idea of what it looks like:

What is even better about this tool is that you can use it to generate as much content or as little as you need to flesh out your test box. It works with SharePoint Online, and even older versions of SharePoint like 2010!

This tool is so great and I can see so many uses for it, I may just have to do a demo video of this sometime down the road, so stay tuned! I’d love to see more folks talking about this because it definitely saves a lot of time and effort to fill up an empty farm when you need to give a demo!

Many thanks again to the guys over at SysKit for developing something awesome like this!

I hope you enjoy it as well!

Help! I lost my config menu in Hyper-V!!??

If you are like me and recently trying out the new version of Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V everything was working great. I like the command line interface and the ability to log in and configure things about the server from a very low level without having to install all other kinds of “features” in the operating system.

That is until one day I came in and logged in and all I found was a black command line and a blinking cursor. Before I panicked i did some research (ie. googling) and found out that if you do lose this screen it can be easily brought back up from the command line by typing:

sconfig.cmd and then pressing enter…

After that, you are back and are able to configure your Hyper-V machine locally!!! 🙂


Hope this helps clear the confusion. After I originally read the first technet article at

I missed this originally and was lost. Enjoy!