RHCE Practice Lab Setup in VMWare and in VirtualBox

This tutorial explains how to setup RHCE/RHCSA practice lab in VMware or in Virtual Box step by step with examples. Learn how to create, prepare and configure virtual machines in VMware or in Virtual Box for RHCE practice lab. Virtual RHCE lab allows us to complete RHCE practice with in a single computer.

For RHCE practice lab we need minimum two computers. Although it is not necessary, but if you have two additional computers use them as well. Moreover you can use as much computers as you want in lab, for example you can set up a dedicated web server, a dedicate DHCP server, a dedicate DNS server, a dedicate client for testing of each service. But that is not required. You can complete all RHCE exercises with four systems.

RHCE Practice LAB with Physical Computers

Setup your lab as shown in following figure

RHCE Practice LAB

Install RHEL 7.0 in three computers and Windows 7 in one computer.

For step by step installation guide please see the following tutorial.

RHEL 7 Installation Step by Step Explained with Screenshots

Rest of this tutorial explains how to create and prepare virtual machines for RHCE LAB. If you are following this tutorial with physical systems, skip this part and move in the second part which explains essential configurations for RHCE LAB.

RHCE Practice LAB Setup

If you cannot afford dedicated physical computers, use virtual machines. Only few exercises require a dedicate physical computer, for rest you can use virtual machines.

The best option is to get a windows based dedicated physical computer and create four virtual machines in it. First practice all exercises and labs except virtualization, and later format the system and install RHEL in physical computer and practice the virtualization. This way you can complete all RHCE practices on a single dedicated computer.

RHCE Practice LAB with Virtual Machines

Several virtualization software are available. You can choose any software which you prefer. I personally suggest you to choose either Virtual Box or VMware workstation.

Virtual Box :- If you prefer free and open source software, this is the best choice. It includes all essential features which are required to create this lab. You can download Virtual Box from its developers site.


VMware Workstation :- If you prefer paid software, this should be your first choice. It provides more advanced features which are usually required by instructors to create presentation and practice lab for students. You can purchase VMware Workstation from its official site.


I will explain how to setup RHCE practice LAB in both software. For this article I assume that both software or the software which you prefer is installed in dedicated physical computer.

RHCE LAB setup in Virtual Box

Open VM Virtual Box Manager and click New button that will launch a wizard to create new virtual machine in pop up window.

Create new virtual machine in Virtual box

Set a descriptive name for virtual machine and select Linux in type and RHEL 7 in version.

RHCE Practice LAB Select operating system

Although minimum required RAM for RHEL is only 512MB, but with 512MB RAM you will not be able to use graphical environment. Set RAM to 1GB which is sufficient to install all essential packages including X-Window (graphical environment).

Virtual Box Select RAM Size

We can add hard disk in virtual machine right now or later, even more we can use existing virtual hard disk. Since this is our first virtual machine so we have to create new virtual hard disk. Select “Create a virtual hard now” option.

Vitual box create new hard disk

Select VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) from Hard Disk file type options. Since VMware workstation also use this format to store the hard disk file, selecting this format will allow us to access this hard disk from VMware workstation also.

Virtual box hard disk type VMDK

Dynamically allocated :- If we select this option, hard disk file will use the space on physical hard disk as it fills up. Virtual hard disk can span only in allowed maximum size. Once spanned, virtual disk will not shrink automatically if we free the space in virtual disk.

A Fixed Size :- In this option all assigned size will be allocated to virtual disk immediately.

Split into files of less than 2GB :- If we select this option, virtual hard disk file will be split in files of less than 2GB each. This option is helpful if we wish to move this virtual machine to other computer through the USB devices. Some USB drive or old system cannot handle the file larger than 2 GB.

Select first option and click Next.

virtual box hard disk type

Minimum hard disk requirement for RHEL is only 4 GB. But to complete all RHCE exercises we need at least 10 GB hard disk. Select the location where you want to store this hard disk file and set hard disk to 10GB and click Create button.

virtual box hard disk location

In few seconds our first virtual machine will be ready to host RHEL. If you have RHEL DVD, insert DVD in DVDROM and click Start to install the RHEL in virtual machine.

virtual box start

If you have RHEL image stored in physical system, instead of RHEL DVD you can also use that image to install the RHEL. To use locally stored image, we have to make a little change in configuration. Start the machine without inserting DVD in DVDROM. A message will pop up indicating that there is no operating system installed in virtual machine. Cancel the message.

no operating system message

Click Devices menu item and click Optical Drives and click Choose disk image

select ios image virtual box

Select ISO image file and click Open

virtual box open ios file

Virtual machine cannot use this image in current session. To boot virtual machine from RHEL image we have to restart it. Click Machine menu and click Rest

virtual box virtual machine restart

Confirm the Reset (Restart)

confirm restart virtual machine

After restart machine will be boot from RHEL image. After essential booting process installation process will be start automatically.

rhel installation start

Now follow the instruction and install the RHEL in this virtual machine.

For step by step installation guide use the tutorial mentioned above.

After installation our first virtual machine is ready for LAB.

Instead of creating new virtual machine from scratch and installing RHEL in it, we can clone the recently prepared virtual machine. To clone first virtual machine select it from left pane and press right click and click Clone.

virtual machine clone

As we need a separate virtual machine, select Full clone and click Clone.

virtual machine full clone option

In few seconds / minutes a new virtual machine will be cloned from first machine.

cloning virtual machine

So far we have two virtual machines with RHEL, ready for RHCE LAB. Each machine use 1GB RAM and 10GB hard disk.

If your system allows to host more virtual machines, go ahead and clone one more machine.

If your system still have enough room for another virtual machine, create a new virtual machine and install Windows7 in it.

virtual machines for RHCE LAB

For easy identification let’s create a group of all machines. Select all machines and press right click, from open menu box click group.

virtual box group virtual machine

A new group will be created.

virtual machine group virtual box

So far all these virtual machines are independent. They will not communicate with each other until we put them in a single LAN segment. To put virtual machines in a LAN segment we first need to create it.

Select first virtual machine from group and press right click. Make sure virtual machine is powered off. Hardware changes are not allowed in running machine.

From setting click Network. Select Internal Network from Attached to drop down.

new lan segment virtual machine

Set a descriptive name for LAN segment and click OK.

lan segment virtual machine

Repeat same process for second machine. As we have already created a LAN segment, this time we only need to put this machine in that segment. Select the previously created LAN segment

virtual machine lan segment

Repeat same process for remaining virtual machines.

virtual box lan segment

That’s all configuration we need in Virtual Box. Our LAB is ready for RHCE practice. In next section we will set up the same LAB in VMware workstation.

RHCE LAB Setup in VMware workstation

Open VMware workstation and click New Virtual Machine from File menu

VMware workstation create new machine

Select Custom option and click Next

custom option virtual machine

Keep default Hardware compatibility.

hardware compatilitbity vmware virtual machine

If you want to install operating system in this virtual machine from DVD, insert DVD (of operating system) in DVDROM and select first option. If you want to install operating system from ISO image stored locally, select second option and provide the location of ISO image file. In first and second option installation will start automatically once virtual machine is created.

If you don’t want to start the installation process immediately, select the third option. In this option virtual machine will be created with a blank hard disk.

vmware virtual machine installation type

If we have selected first or second option in previous screen, VMware will automatically detect the operating system that we want to install in this virtual machine. But if we have selected the third option in previous screen then we have to select the operating system and its version on this screen (which we want to install in this virtual machine).

vmware virtual machine operating system

Provide a descriptive name to this virtual machine and select the location where you want to store this virtual machine.

virtual machine name and location option vmware

Keep default processor

virtal machine processor type vmware

As discussed earlier provide at least 1GB RAM.

virtual machine RAM

Keep default Network Type, we will customize it later.

virtual machine network type

Keep default I/O Controller.

virtual box i o controllor

Select SCSI hard disk type

virtual machine hard disk type

Just like Virtual Box we can create a new virtual hard disk for this machine or we can use existing virtual hard disk. Even more we can use a physical hard disk attached to the system. Select “Create a new virtual disk” option.

virtual machine create new hard disk

Assign at least 10Gb hard disk.

virtual machine hard disk size

Specify the location where you want to store the virtual hard disk

virtual machine hard disk location

Review the hardware selection, if you need change, use back button. If all looks good click Finish to create a new virtual machine.

virtual machine review hardware selection

Just like virtual box, to use locally stored ISO image file we have to change DVDROM setting. Click CD/DVD (SATA) option.

virtual machine ios image option

Select “Use ISO image file” option and provide the location of ISO file

select IOS image virtual box

Now we can install the RHEL in this virtual machine from this IOS file.

Once RHEL is installed, we can clone this virtual machine to create the reaming two machines. Select virtual machine from left pane and press right click, from open menu click Manage and from sub menu and click Clone.

virtual machine clone option

Click Next on Welcome screen

virtual machine clone wizard

Select current state option for clone

virtual machine clone state

Select “Create a full clone” option

create full option virtual machine

Provide a descriptive name and location for new virtual machine and click Finish

clone name virtual machine

In few seconds VMware will clone the virtual machine.

virtual machine cloning

Our second virtual machine is ready for LAB.

As I said earlier if you have enough RAM and empty hard disk create one more clone and one additional virtual machine with Windows 7 installation.

For easy administration it is always a good idea to keep all belonging virtual machines in a group. Let’s create a new folder (Named RHCE) and drag all machines in it.

virtual machine grouped

Finally we have to put all our virtual machines in a single LAN segment so they can access each other. We have already learned this process in Virtual box section. Same process will be used here. Create new LAN segment on first machine and add remaining machines in it.

To do this select virtual machine and click Network Adapter and use LAN Segment option.

lan segment virtual machine

That’s all setup we need in VMware. Now our virtual machine are ready for essential configuration. In next part of this article we will configure these virtual machines for RHCE LAB.

ComputerNetworkingNotes Linux Tutorials RHCE Practice Lab Setup in VMWare and in VirtualBox