Please note that bringing a laptop is optional, but recommended, and it's best to bring a CD ROM drive too. If you have a choice, please install your test computer as a Virtual Machine on your laptop.
Can I use a Virtual Machine?
Yes, in fact, using a virtual machine is preferred. You can obtain VMware Player from the VMware web site or Oracle VirtualBox from the VirtualBox web site.
Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise both include Hyper-V too.
How should my laptop or Virtual Machine be configured?
Ideally, please install Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, either the R1 or R2 version (preferably R2). You can download a free evaluation copy of Windows Server from Microsoft, just do a Google search on "site:microsoft.com windows server trial." Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate by itself is insufficient to follow all the exercises in the course, but is nice to have too. Enterprise edition of Windows Server is preferred, but if you can only get Standard edition, that's fine.
Additionally, the Server VM should have a static IP address (perhaps 10.1.1.1) and have the primary DNS server set to this IP address, i.e., you will be your own DNS server. Afterwards, use Server Manager in Administrative Tools to install the Active Directory Domain Services role, then afterwards run DCPROMO.EXE to complete the configuration of the VM as a domain controller. Along the way, install the DNS service when prompted to do so, and choose any domain name you wish, e.g., "testing.local", but don't use your organization's real domain name.
What should I download and have with me?
If you only have Server 2008 R1, please download the following tools and have them with you. Feel free to install them too, but otherwise you'll install them during the seminar. We would simply give you a CD ROM with these tools (or an entire pre configured VM), but Microsoft's licensing does not allow it.
If you have Server 2008 R2, the above extensions are already installed.
What if I do not have a Windows Server laptop?
You are certainly welcome to attend the seminars if your laptop does not meet the above specifications or if you cannot bring a laptop at all. The manuals are filled with screenshots and the instructor will be demonstrating software on projection screens, so you will not miss out. Typically, 50% of the audience will not have laptops with Windows Server configured as domain controllers, so you will not be alone.
What if I have problems configuring my laptop?
Since laptops are optional and there may be hundreds of people who have installation problems per conference, the SANS Institute unfortunately cannot provide technical support. Please use Google to search for the phrases and error numbers shown in the error messages you see.
What if I am totally new to scripting/programming?
You do not need any programming or scripting background whatsoever to attend the course. On the other hand, we will spend the day going through scripts written in PowerShell, so if you want to peruse an article or tutorial on PowerShell, that would be nice, but it's certainly not required. Don't feel too much stress about the PowerShell course, though, since half of the other attendees in there will be new to scripting as well. PowerShell is built into windows 7 and Server 2008, but you must download PowerShell and install it on Windows XP/2003/Vista. You can find links to PowerShell articles and tutorials on Microsoft's site as well.
If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.