May 4, 2021

Building Virtual Machine Labs: A Hands-On Guide (Second Edition) Rough Draft available for free



Have you:

* Ever wanted a place to try out new tools and applications when they came out?
* Ever wanted a place to analyze malware in relative safety?
* Ever wanted a lab tailored towards teaching you, your friends, your colleagues, or your class the basics of systems administration, networking, virtualization, and remote access?

Well, I’ve got a book for you. Building Virtual Machine Labs: A Hands-On Guide 2nd Edition

I wrote the first edition of this book and published it back in 2016. I self-published on amazon:


And also on leanpub:


Over the course of several years, I have had tens of thousands of readers, many of which thanked me for sharing my work as it guided them in their career, and in some cases they claimed it helped them get jobs in the industry. I didn’t take out any ads or anything crazy, I just had positive word of mouth from my peers.

…and that was just for the first edition.

I’m here today to talk about the second edition. I recently completed a rough draft. From here out, I don’t have any plans to add additional content, I just plan on doing proofreading to help make the book flow better and fill in the lesser bits and pieces before I move to self-publish. In keeping a tradition from the first edition, I’m distributing that rough draft for free right now, no strings attached. Go grab a copy at:


If the domain name looks sketch, I chose “yeet the ayys” as a domain name because I’m a devoted XCOM fan (shouts to [r/xcom]( , and John “Beaglerush” Teasdale). That, and freenom offers free “.cf” domains. As for the server, its literally a Linux VM in my basement.

Yes, the book is in PDF format. No, its not malware.

Reddit was good to me the first time around, and I ended up getting a lot of love when I did this initially. Especially from the [r/netsecstudents](, and [r/homelab]( communities. I understand that apparently, Reddit’s terms of service have changed since then, and most subreddits don’t allow nor care for self-promotion anymore.

I won’t deny that my end-goal would be to have people read the rough draft, like what they see, and when I announced the final cut and go to publish, they actually buy it and/or tell friends and they buy it too. Like, no shit I’d like money in return for the year of work I put into this.

But right now? I’m not selling you anything. I’m just giving you something for free because I did it last time. Use it or don’t. Like it or don’t. Share with others you know who may want it, or don’t. I’m making it free for now, because information wants to be free, and I want to be a good steward to the IT, Compsci, and Information Technology communities. I want to share tribal knowledge that’s lived in my head for years, and the trove of improvements I’ve made over the first edition.

Speaking of improvements, this book as it stands right now is over 1,000 pages. I added enough content to fill another 400 pages over the first edition. Much of that is more comprehensive instruction, bonus lessons that contain alternative configuration options, links to external resources that might help to fill in any knowledge gaps I don’t cover particularly well, many and more detailed illustrations, and much better, much more detailed troubleshooting instructions, in case things don’t go according to plan.

One of the big complaints in the first book was the large amounts of dead space due to the images being interspersed everywhere. I’d like to think I fixed that this time around. Screen captures are stitched together into a flow chart to show how students should progress through configuring stuff, and what the screen should look like when they’re doing a thing™. Each of these flow charts has captions that summarize what is going on as well. You can kinda think of this as an integrated cliff notes version of the chapter where readers could literally just look at the pictures and the captions and have 90% of the content they need to perform a task.

Another big complaint I got was that the book wasn’t really designed for being printed as a textbook. There was a lot of cross-chapter reference, but no page numbers when cross-referencing a section or chapter, leading to readers having to jump to the GIGANTIC index to figure out where to go next. I’ve since taken that problem into account and will be telling students which pages to jump to when referencing other chapters and sections.

That’s all I wanted to say about that.

I’d like to take a moment to thank my patrons and supporters who otherwise purchased or acquired the first edition and helped improve the work in some way. I wouldn’t have bothered publishing the first edition if not for you, and I wouldn’t be here with a vastly improved second edition if I didn’t think you deserved better.


Tony “da_667” Robinson

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