Building a homelab - Part 1 - Installation and Setup


A homelab is where you learn, practice, and most importantly grow. Having a lab is essential in anyone trying to get a career in IT.

This is a series will go into the installation and setup of common operating system and applications, to a full fledged home lab.

By the end of this part of the post, I will have:

Homelab Network Setup

As I stated before, the purpose of this lab is learn and practice.

pfSense will be used for routing and blocking services from coming in or out of my lab. HOMELAB-DC is my domain controller that will manage the devices I will be connecting to the network. WINSERVER-SPLUNK, will for now just be used to join the domain, but later have splunk installed to receive logs from the DC.

Diagram Update 1

Note: I won’t go into great details about the installation of any of the OS’s, applications, or services. So, be warned! I will be skipping over a lot of the installation process because I will assume you already have the knowledge in doing so. The images you will see are the settings I’ve chosen for my own lab.


pfSense is very easy to install. There are a few ways you can definitely configure pfSense. I did spend a good amount of time trying different methods trying to see which one works for me. After looking at how other users configured their settings I’ve found this way worked best for me.

pfsense settings

This installation is is very straight-forward. You don’t need to configure anything specific, other than ensuring your WAN is DHCP specific. The one thing you have to keep note of is the LAN. It’s up to you if you want to change it, but by default pfSense keeps it at For my setup, I’m leaving it as the default.

Windows Server 2016 - DC

Here comes the intensive and scary part of installing AD DS, DHCP, and DNS, all at once. You must ensure you are entering everything correctly. Rushing may cause things to be misconfigured, or unclarity as to why something is not being able to be pinged, or simply no internet access.

windows server 2016 settings

After the installation of Windows Server 2016, I immediately go into my network adapter, and change my network settings to statically be assgined to the settings I’ve automatically been given by pfSense.

I’ve noticed that doing this way, enabled my second server WINSERV-SPLUNK to connect to the domain I set up.

After my network settigns are statically assigned, it change the computer name to roughly match the usage of the computer. And while I’m at it becaus the computer would need to be restarted. I installed the VirtualBox Guest Additions as well, for a much better experience when using VirtualBox

Computer name

Now, when we log back into we can see the computer name is changed and we now have the ability to resiz the VirtualBox window easily.

Installing - AD DS, DHCP, DNS

Without having any knowledge, understaning, or prior experience, installing these services at once, can seem a bit daughting. I suggest following a video beforehand or brush up on some of the concepts and terminology to be familiar with yourself before diving in head first.

Windows Server Services

Here you can see I installed all the necessary services to get the lab up and running. I created another Windows Server 2016 VM (WINSERV-SPLUNK) to join my homelab.local domain I created.

Here is my current setup of both DHCP and DNS within my domain:


This post was to show the basic installation and setup of my homelab. You were able to get a general idea of what my lab network consists of and how I setup everything.

In the next post, will go through how I use pfSense to block certain sites from the WINSERV-SPLUNK computer from accessing.