This post gives instructions on installing and running SQL Server 2017 Developer Edition, completely free, with VirtualBox. This method should only be used on Developer workstations. This method should not be used for shared developer/test/QA installations. It absolutely should not be used for production installations. Also, that would be a violation of the Developer Edition license terms.

Step 1: Download and Install VirtualBox

You can grab the latest copy of VirtualBox for your host operating system here. Download and install it.

Step 2: Download the ISO for Windows Hyper-V Server 2016

Yes, Hyper-V server is built for running other servers. However, you can install SQL Server quite easily onto Hyper-V server, and that’s perfect for developer scenarios.

Create a new VM. Give it as much RAM, CPU, and disk as you can afford given your machine configuration. Go through the installation and allow the machine to reboot.

You’ll need to create an Administrator password. I recommend Administrat0r, but do whatever you want and whatever you’ll remember. (I won’t look.)

Step 3: Install the VirtualBox Guest Additions

From the VirtualBox menu, you can install the Guest Additions. These enable additional functionality, including port forwarding, shared clipboard, and folder sharing. When you mount the Guest Additions disk, you should be able to run D:\VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe. If your disk drive is not D:, use that drive letter instead.

After the Guest Additions are installed, reboot the machine.

Step 4: Disable the Firewall

Yes, you can go about opening the correct firewall ports. The easier solution, since this is a developer installation on a developer workstation, is to disable the firewall entirely.

> netsh advfirewall set currentprofile state off

Step 5: Download SQL Server 2017 Developer Edition

You can grab a copy of SQL Server from here.

Step 6: Install SQL Server 2017 Developer Edition

Mount the SQLServer2017-x64-ENU-Dev.iso file. Run the following command. This will launch the installer and make sure that named pipes and TCP are enabled.

> D:\setup.exe /uimode=EnableUIOnServerCore /action=Install /NPEnabled=1 /TCPEnabled=1

When you select features, I recommend that you install the following.

  • Database Engine
  • Full-Text and Semantic Extractions for Search
  • Analysis Services
  • Integration Services

Some features will not successfully install on Windows Server Core. You will get a rule check violation if you attempt to install unsupported features. If you need some of these features, you will need to get a proper copy of Windows Server 2016.

I use the default SQL Server instance. There is no reason to use a named instance on a virtual machine that has only one purpose.

I use mixed-mode authentication. My SA password is mySApassword*123. Again, put whatever you want here, as long as it’s something you’ll remember. I also add the BUILTIN\Administrators group as SQL admins.

If you include Analysis Services, be sure to add the BUILTIN\Administrators group as admins there, as well.

I leave all default folders and collation settings as-is. I enable Filestreams.

Once the install completes, reboot the server.

Step 7: Connect to SQL Server

You should now be able to connect to SQL Server from the host machine. Open up SQL Server Management Studio and attempt to connect to (local) with the credentials sa/mySApassword*123.

Step 8: Enable Server Updates

Using the server configuration tool (sconfig), enable updates. Also, start downloading and installing updates. These can take a while, and many updates require a server restart, so do these during your lunch break, after work, etc.

After all of these steps, you’re all set! You can connect from your host machine and query away as if you were working on localhost. Happy querying!