Nested Virtual PowerShell Desktop Environments on Windows 10 & Windows Server 2019 in Azure – Part 3

Docker Virtual PowerShell Desktop Env to Internet - SaaS

This is the third and likely last post in this series. In Part 1 I introduced the capability to have Virtual PowerShell Environments using Docker and the full Windows 10 / Server 2019 Build 1809 container images. In Part 2 I detailed remotely access the Azure RM Windows 10 / Server 2019 host that contains the Docker Container with our full Windows 1809 environment (and therefore PowerShell Desktop).

In this post I’ll detail building a Docker Image based off of the Windows 1809 Container image. The resulting Docker Image will;

  • create a base PowerShell environment with the necessary PowerShell Modules for performing common Azure based administrative activities
  • using the Docker image for administrative functions
  • be accessible to be started using SSH from other SSH Clients (e.g Putty)

Building a Docker Image based off Windows 1809 Container

Using the capabilities I showed in in Part 2 of this series I’m going to build the image from Azure Cloud Shell that I’ll use to SSH into the Windows 10 AzureRM hosted Virtual Machine.

Having logged in to Azure Cloud Shell and connected to my Azure VM via SSH as detailed in Part 2. I then created a new CMD file named NewImage1809.cmd that has the following command inside it.

docker run -it --name psNov2018 powershell

New Image Start

Running the commands hostname and dir c:\program files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules shows that we are inside the Windows 1809 Container Image.

Hostname and Existing Modules.PNG

I used the Cloud Shell Upload option to upload a New Env Setup.ps1 script that contains the PowerShell commands to install a bunch of PowerShell Modules. Using the Cloud Shell Editor I opened the file.

New Env Setup Script

Here is that series of commands.

I can then select the block of commands and paste it into the PowerShell terminal console below and hit enter for it to execute them.


One by one the modules are installed

Modules Installed

When completed enter exit.

Exit after Module Install

Now we can stop our Container Image.

docker stop psNov2018

Docker stop.PNG

and commit our changes to a new container named ‘powershell-env-image-nov18’

docker commit psNov2018 powershell-env-image-nov18

Docker Commit.PNG

Listing the docker images with

docker image ls

shows our new Image.

Docker Image List.PNG

We can now Run our new image with

docker run -it powershell-env-image-nov18:latest powershell

Run Image.PNG

We can see the modules we installed previously.

Image Module List.PNG

and we can import them.

Import Modules.PNG

Putty to PowerShell Virtual Environment

As good as Azure Cloud Shell is, and as convenient as it is for quick tasks and execution, you’re going to want to use an SSH Client. I’ll show using Putty, but you can use whatever your favourite client is. To connect to the environment I;

  • using the Putty Key Generator I loaded the OpenSSH Private Key generated in Part 1 and saved it in Putty ppk format
  •  using Putty Pageant I can use the ppk formatted key for my SSH session to the Windows 10 1809 host
    • Note: WinSCP can also utilise the ppk key for authentication which makes getting files onto the Host very easy
  • if you find you don’t automatically get your elevated session that allows you to start the Docker Container/Image then create the following registry key on the Windows 10/Server 2019 host and reconnect. DWORD (32-bit) value of 1 for LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy

I can then connect with Putty using my key, and run the DockerPS.cmd file I showed in Part 2 which outputs the version of PowerShell.


In this post I’ve shown how to customise a Windows 1809 Container for a Virtual PowerShell environment, along with using client based SSH and SCP tools to connect to and manage the base Host.

Nested Virtual PowerShell Desktop Environments on Windows 10 & Windows Server 2019 in Azure – Part 2

27 Nov 18 Part 3 is available here that details customizing 
an image and accessing it via other SSH clients with elevated

In Part-1 of this series posted yesterday I showed that with Windows 10/Windows Server 2019 we can now have isolated virtual environments for PowerShell Desktop in Azure through containerization.

In this post I’ll show how I plan to leverage this capability from a mobility perspective. What we need to do first is enable elevated (privileged) access to our VM. My Client will be Azure Cloud Shell. My target/host is the Windows 10 1809 Virtual Machine I deployed in the last post.

Enabling SSH Key Based Privileged Authentication to our Windows 10 VM

To setup Key Based Access (over password access, which is required for elevated access) we need to configure the SSH Server and our Client.

SSH Server

On the Windows 10 Azure VM where we installed OpenSSH as per the first post here, we need to start the SSH-Agent. By default it is set to Disabled. Change the Startup Type, Start it and test it by adding the local user to the Agent. Using an elevated PowerShell session on the Azure Windows VM run;

Set-Service ssh-agent -startupType automatic
Start-Service ssh-agent
cd ~\
ssh-add .\.ssh\id_rsa

Add SSH Key to SSH-Agent on Server.PNG

SSH Client

As I’m using Azure Cloud Shell as my client, I started a Cloud Shell Session in my browser.

  • In Azure Cloud Shell generate a SSH Key using SSH-Keygen
    • Remember your passphrase as this will be required for accessing the Windows 10 Azure VM

Client SSH Keygen.PNG

  • Copy the key to the Windows 10 Azure VM
    • Run the command below (after changing it for your username and Windows VM IP Address) and provide your password to copy up the file
cd ~/
scp ./.ssh/ username@Win10ServerIPAddress:C:\Users\userprofilename\.ssh\authorized_keys\

Copy Public Key from Client to Server.PNG

  • On the Server if C:\ProgramData\ssh\administrators_authorized_keys exists add your Public key that you copied into your home folder above into it. If C:\ProgramData\ssh\administrators_authorized_keys doesn’t exist then copy the authorized_keys file from your .ssh home directory (e.g c:\users\darrenjrobinson\.ssh ) to C:\ProgramData\ssh\administrators_authorized_keys
  • Edit the permission on the administrators_authorized_keys file.
    • Right-Click the file => Properties => Security => Advanced => Disable Inheritance => Choose “Convert inherited permissions into explicit permissions on this object” 
    • Remove Authenticated Users so that only System and Administrators remain as per the screen shot below. Then select Apply and then OK.

Administrators Authorized Keys.PNG

Testing SSH with Key Access

From our Azure Cloud Shell SSH to your Windows 10 Host;

ssh username@ipaddress

SSH Key Access.PNG

You will be prompted for the passphrase you gave when you generated the SSH key. Enter that and you will be authenticated using SSH to the Windows 10 VM.

SSH to Windows 10.PNG

Docker Access from Azure Cloud Shell in Browser

Now that we have Privileged Access to our Windows 10 VM, let’s try running a Windows 10 1809 Container and executing a PowerShell command to query the version of PowerShell available.

docker run -it powershell $psversiontable

Run Docker.PNG

Wait a few seconds (maybe longer depending on the spec of your VM) and

PowerShell Desktop via Docker.PNG

Fantastic, we have a Container with PowerShell Desktop that we have accessed via Cloud Shell in a Browser.

Docker Access from Azure Cloud Shell in iOS Azure App

Using the Azure iOS App on my iPhone I started a Cloud Shell session and changed to my home directory cd ~\ where I had put a file named Connect-Win10.ps1 which contains

ssh username@ipaddressOfWin10Host


I executed it and it prompted me for the passphrase for my SSH Key which I entered


and I was then SSH’d into the Windows 10 VM.


I did a dir d* and saw the DockerPS.cmd file I’d previously created. It contains the following command.

docker run -it powershell $psversiontable


Running that file


starts the Docker Windows 1809 Container with the PowerShell command


and I can see from my phone I’m have access to a PowerShell Desktop via Azure Cloud Shell and Docker from inside a Windows 10 VM based in Azure.



This post has demonstrated that it is possible to get an elevated privileged session into a Windows 10 host using SSH, from which Docker Containers can be orchestrated and executed. By doing this from Azure Cloud Shell, it means that I can essentially login to a browser or app from anywhere in the world and access my Virtual PowerShell environments that in turn will allow world domination. Muwahahahah.

Got thoughts or feedback on this? Twitter || Blog

Nested Virtual PowerShell Desktop Environments on Windows 10 & Windows Server 2019 in Azure – Part 1

22 Nov 18 Part 2 is available here that details accessing
the Docker Image via Azure Cloud Shell / SSH
27 Nov 18 Part 3 is available here that details customizing
an image and accessing it via other SSH clients with 
elevated access.

PowerShell Desktop Virtual Environments

If you’ve been working with PowerShell for any length of time you know that through its flexibility there can come challenges when using disparate PowerShell Modules and often their version dependencies. This isn’t just a PowerShell thing; Python can also trip you up in a similar manner.

Python however has Virtual Environments (virtualenv) capabilities which provides functionality to create an environment that contains all the necessary binaries required for the packages/libraries that a Python project would need. I’ve found this this very useful and I’ve wondered why I couldn’t do the same for PowerShell Desktop (not Core). PowerShell Desktop, PowerShell Core?

PowerShell Desktop vs PowerShell Core

As of August 2016 there are two PowerShell versions;

  • PowerShell Desktop
    • PowerShell 5.1 that runs on Windows and on top of the full .NET Framework stack
  • PowerShell Core
    • PowerShell Core 6.x that is cross platform (Windows, MacOSX, Linux)
      • Doesn’t run on the full .NET Framework

If you are a Windows/Directory Services Admin the likelihood of many of the PowerShell Modules you use running on PowerShell Core are slim. That’s because a lot of the modules you use require the full .NET Framework. And that isn’t available in PowerShell Core.

A Virtual PowerShell Desktop Env? Why is this only possible now?

In July this year Microsoft started providing Windows Container Images for the Insider releases (over and above Nano and Core OS builds). This was great, but meant you needed to be on the Insider Builds and were restricted to environments on physical hardware or VM’s migrated to Azure as there wasn’t an Azure Marketplace OS Version (Windows 10 or Server 2019 Preview) that met the minimum host requirements for the Insider Container images.

We’ve had to wait until Build 1809 became available in the Azure Marketplace which it did at the end of last week (w/e 18 November 2018). The Windows Container Version History shows that there was no 1803 Windows Image. But that’s all bygones now, as 1809 is finally here.

PowerShell Desktop Virtual Environments through Nested Virtualization

The screenshot below on first glance just looks like any command window in a virtual machine. But look a little closer;

  • Remote Desktop Session to an Azure Windows 10 1809 Virtual Machine (
  • Docker Run Windows 1809 PowerShell $psversiontable
    • PowerShell Desktop 5.1 via Docker inside a Virtual Machine in Azure
      • BOOM!!

PowerShell Desktop Virt Env Nested Virtualization.PNG

Ok, so that is a single Docker Container with a full Windows 10 1809 environment running inside a Windows 10 Virtual Machine. But that means we can also add more containers and have multiple isolated PowerShell environments. Something like ….

Nested Virtual PowerShell Desktop Env.png

Wait, what, how? – The Overview

The high-level process is;

  • Provision a Windows 10 Virtual Machine (Build 1809 or later).
    • I recommend to deploy it in Azure, but you could do it in other virtualization environments that support Nested Virtualization
    • NOTE: As I write this Windows Server 2019 Build 1809 hasn’t hit the Azure Marketplace. When it does, as it has a common code-base it should work exactly the same.
  • Enable the OpenSSH Feature (I’ll be using this a little in this post but more in a future post)
  • Enable the Containers and Hyper-V Features
  • Install and configure Docker
  • Pull the Windows Build 1809 Container Image

Windows 10 Build 1809 Virtual Machine

I’m not going to give step-by-step details for deploying a Windows VM in Azure. If you’re looking to setup Virtual PowerShell Desktop Environments with Docker you should be able to deploy a Windows VM. That said you need to choose a VM Size and Version that will support “Nested Virtualization”. The Azure RM Dv3 and Ev3 Series VM’s do. If you get an error similar to this when running a Docker Image then change your VM Series to Dv3. I went with;

  • The Azure Marketplace has a image for Windows 10 Build 1809. Search for Windows 10 Pro, Version 1809
    • In order to run this VM as pragmatic as practical I chose the following size and configuration for my VM initially
      • Standard D2_v3 (2 vCPUs, 8 GB memory)
      • HDD over SSD
      • Un-managed disks
    • Enable SSH and RDP in the NSG configuration
      • initially we’ll need RDP to connect to the workstation
      • moving forward we’ll be using SSH

OpenSSH Server

OpenSSH Client and Server has been available for Windows for a while. Build 1809 though has streamlined the install process considerably. The base install and setup is now just a couple of commands away. The commands below will install the latest version of OpenSSH Server via PowerShell;

# Find OpenSSH Server
$openSSH = Get-WindowsCapability -Online | Where-Object Name -like 'OpenSSH*'

# Install OpenSSH Server
$sshServer = $openSSH | Select-Object name | Where-Object {$ -like "OpenSSH.Server*"}

Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name $sshServer.Name

which when executed via VSCode looks like;

Install OpenSSH Server on Windows 10.PNG

By default the SSH Server service is configured for Manual startup. To configure it for Automatic Startup use the Set-Service cmdlet.

# Set SSH Server for Auto Startup
Get-Service sshd
Set-service sshd -StartupType Automatic

ssh Server Startup Automatic.PNG

Finally we need to increase the ClientAliveInterval setting in the sshd_config configuration file located in the %programdata%\ssh directory. I’ve made mine 3600 seconds (1 hour).

sshd ClientAliveInterval.PNG

Windows Containers / Docker Dependencies

# Install Containers / Docker Dependencies
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName containers –All -NoRestart
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Hyper-V –All
Restart the computer

Install Docker

Head on over to Docker and login (or create an account if you don’t already have one). Get Docker CE for Windows. I’m running 18.06.1-ce-win73.

Download and Install Docker.PNG

As we want a full Windows environment for PowerShell (not PowerShell Core on Linux) select “Use Windows containers” when installing Docker.

Use Windows Containers.PNG

At the end of the Docker install there is a reboot required.

Docker Install Complete.PNG

Get the Windows 1809 Base Container Image

We’re almost there. We need to get the recently released full Windows Image that will be the basis for our containers that will allow us to run full PowerShell environments. Don’t be confused by the Nano and Core images that have been available for quite some time. This is the FULL WINDOWS Build 1809 IMAGE.

As future Windows updates increment the version, the version you want to pull needs to be no greater than the host it is running on. Unlike the Insider Images the release versions follow the Release Number not the Build Number. Looking at the repository we can see that the image name is 1809 where-as its Build Number is 10.0.17763.134.

Docker Windows Image Registry.PNG

With the workstation restarted we SSH into it and pull the Windows 1809 Docker Image. I’ve given my Windows 10 VM a DNS name so I don’t need to figure out the IP Address each time I start it up. From a Windows command prompt to access your new VM (via IPAddress) use;

ssh username@IPAddressofWin10VM

Once we have a console on our Windows 10 VM we can pull the Windows 10 Docker Image.

docker pull

The image will be retrieved.

Pull Windows 1809 Base Image.PNG

After pulling the image it will be extracted. Depending on the spec of your VM this may take 10-20 minutes.

Extracting Windows Base Docker Image.PNG

After Extraction we have our base Container Image.

Completed Docker Image.PNG

In order to create a container from the command console via SSH we need to be elevated. I’ll cover that in the next post. So to validate we are able to create a container based on the full Windows 10 1809 image, RDP into the Windows 10 VM and open an elevated command prompt. Then type the command;

docker run -it powershell $psversiontable

which will start a container using the Windows 10 1809 Image and run PowerShell with the command $PSVersionTable that will return the version of PowerShell.

PowerShell Desktop Virt Env Nested Virtualization


As you can see from the screenshot above, we have Nested Virtualization in an Azure Resource Manager Windows 10 Virtual Machine running a Docker Windows 10 1089 Container Image that allows us to run PowerShell Desktop 5.1. BOOM!!

That’s it for the first post, where I introduced the concept of Full Windows Docker Images supporting PowerShell Desktop in Azure. Stay tuned for the next post that starts putting this new functionality to good use.

Got thoughts or feedback on this? Twitter || Blog

Azure VM Docker CreateContainer Error (0xc0370102)

A real quick post as I’ve just managed to figure out what was causing this error and why my Docker container wasn’t being created.

I’d just deployed a brand new Windows 10 VM in Azure Resource Manager and installed Docker. But when I attempted to create a new container I was getting the error below in both the Docker console and in the Application Event Log.

---snippet start---
Handler for POST /v1.38/containers/6f6e2c37142a63db7a19e2533a97b8affad52b735d7cfcbbd2b69ce87ef4c36c/start
returned error: container 6f6e2c37142a63db7a19e2533a97b8affad52b735d7cfcbbd2b69ce87ef4c36c 
encountered an error during CreateContainer: failure in a Windows system 
call: The virtual machine could not be started because a required feature 
is not installed. (0xc0370102) extra info:
---snippet end---

The key words out of all that are:

CreateContainer: failure in a Windows system call: The virtual machine could not be started because a required feature is not installed. (0xc0370102)

…. but search as you might, you can’t find anything anywhere. Through my troubleshooting process I tried creating a Hyper-V VM which I could, but it wouldn’t start with an error the a Hyper-V Process was not installed/running.

Thinking through want I was trying to do and the errors from both Hyper-V and Docker I realized it need to be something to do with Nested Virtualization.

Light-bulb Moment

Support for Nested Virtualization in Azure VM’s is dependent on the generation of the underlying host. When Microsoft started supporting the Intel Broadwell processors, they also enabled Nested Virtualization on some VM Sizes.

Changing my VM Size from a DS_v2 to a DS_v3 was all that I had to do. My Docker Containers are now running on a Windows 10 Virtual Machine in Azure Resource Manager.

FYI, Azure Dv3 and Ev3 VM’s support Nested Virtualization and I’m sure there are also now others. Hopefully I’ve saved someone else the two hours I’ve just lost.