Virtual PC’s Enhanced Rollout and Troubleshooting

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Virtual PC’s Enhanced Rollout and Troubleshooting

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It isn’t very often that we are fortunate enough to have free software that actually is useful. VM Systems and Microsoft both have free offerings in the virtual PC market. This paper will deal with one of Microsoft’s offerings, Virtual PC. This paper will give you a tour of the product, installation requirements, file structure, new enhancements, and possibilities. Only Virtual PC will be covered here. Virtual Server is another program made for running server software and is quite different in its interface and scope. Look for a future paper on the Virtual Server product....

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  1. Expert Reference Series of White Papers Virtual PC’s Enhanced Rollout and Troubleshooting Run Windows 98, NT, ME, XP, 2003 Server, and Vista 1-800-COURSES www.globalknowledge.com
  2. Virtual PC’s Enhanced Rollout and Troubleshooting Ron Schindler, Global Knowledge Instructor Introduction It isn’t very often that we are fortunate enough to have free software that actually is useful. VM Systems and Microsoft both have free offerings in the virtual PC market. This paper will deal with one of Microsoft’s offer- ings, Virtual PC. This paper will give you a tour of the product, installation requirements, file structure, new enhancements, and possibilities. Only Virtual PC will be covered here. Virtual Server is another program made for running server software and is quite different in its interface and scope. Look for a future paper on the Virtual Server product. Virtual PC Tour Figure 1. Virtual PC Console Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 2
  3. In the past, when you wanted to explore the newest operating system, bench-test images, or just parallel sys- tems until you made sure everything worked, you needed to set up multiple hardware configurations or run a multi-boot system. You could never be two places at once with these types of setups. Virtual PC is changing the way we rollout new operating systems, images, databases, do training, or even help-desk approaches. Virtual PC is made up of a Console, Virtual Configuration Files, and Virtual Hard Drives. The console is where we control which OS we will run. We can alter the Options and Settings that affect the way we use or see our information. The status of each virtual machine is shown to us as one of the following: Running, Not Running, or Saved. Running is an indicator that the virtual machine is either starting up or in use. Not Running is a state that does not use any resources and is pretty much dormant. Saved is a virtual machine that has been saved at a point in operation, very much like a hibernation mode. Limited settings for virtual machines can be changed in all three states, but to change all settings successfully, you must be in a Not Running mode. Virtual machines or operating systems are installed in the same manner you would normally install them. Use your CD or DVD just as you would on any physical machine, but though the interface of the Virtual PC. Remember to have a valid license for every instance of the operating systems that you install. Virtual PC does not license you for any of the operating systems that will run under it. Installation Requirements and Configurations If Virtual PC 2004 is used, Windows 95 and 98 operating systems will be supported by Microsoft. Virtual PC 2007, with support for Windows 2000, XP, and the new Vista operating system now available for download from Microsoft’s website. Both will run legacy operating systems, however, Microsoft will not give official sup- port if legacy operating systems are run in Virtual PC 2007. The minimum system requirements for the physical computer and the host operating system are as follows: An x86-based computer with one of the following processors: AMD Athlon/Duron family or Intel Celeron or Pentium II, III, or 4 family; 400 MHz minimum, 1.0 GHz or faster recommended. You can run Virtual PC on a multi-processor computer, but it uses only one processor. On Duo core processors, Virtual PC is distributed across both cores unless Affinity is set to one processor in the process tab of the task manager. CD-ROM or DVD drive. • Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher resolution monitor recommended. • Keyboard and Microsoft mouse or compatible pointing device. • Host operating system: Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Professional, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Virtual PC comes as an MSI package and installs easily, but if not given the appropriate hardware, you will not be able to enjoy its real power. Virtual PC works well with your upper-end Pentium 4 or AMD Chips. If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase new equipment, look for something with Duo Core technology. As with anything, memory is a necessity. At least 2GB will help you as you start to run multiple operating sys- tems simultaneously. This must be physical non-paged RAM, not virtual memory. Virtual PC software runs on a host operating system. Let’s assume you have an XP computer that has a Duo Core CPU with 4GB of RAM. Your host will need to have 256MB or more of RAM to keep your host Windows XP happy. Every virtual machine installed will need to have RAM allocated to it. but this is only for when the virtual machine is running. If you install a 2003 Server as a virtual machine, it will need to have at least 512 to 768 in Memory. Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 3
  4. Figure 2 shows a virtual XP machine and the RAM allocated for it to run. I’m sure you’re wondering how I got that number of 304MB. Sometimes, in order to run two, three, or even four guest operating systems, you will need to keep adjusting one of the operating systems that don’t seem to require as much memory until you can run all the OSs that you need. The slider is only available when the virtual machine is stopped (see figure 2). CD/DVD drives will rely on the host system for physical drives although ISO images can also be used as if they were in a physical drive. Figure 2. Memory settings for not running OS Floppy Disk is either the physical floppy drive of your host or a virtual floppy drive can be created with the disk wizard program. This would end up being a fixed-size file on your host file system. Networking can be one of four types. Not connected is a standalone virtual guest with no connections. Local Only networking, which just emulates a local network between virtual machines, does not go to external areas like the host or other wired locations. Virtual networking makes each virtual machine a separate workstation viewable across the network by other workstations, whether real or virtual. Shared networking is using Network Address Translation or NAT to share one IP address for external networking. Virtual Machine Additions are additions to the functionality of each guest operating system. Full integra- tion is only available for Windows guest operating systems and will include extras like integrated mouse, time synchronization, cut & paste, drag & drop, folder sharing, and arbitrary screen resolutions. Other guest operat- ing systems will have varying levels of integration support. Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 4
  5. File Structure Each guest system must have a hard disk to store the operating system and files that may be used on them. The size of your virtual hard disk (VHD) is determined by the use of the guest virtual machine. Always give enough for the operating system, programs to be run, and room for temp files and growth. VHDs are either set up as part of the creation of a virtual guest or as an addition to an already existing guest environment. The VHD wizard is used to create these disks. The virtual disk wizard (see figure 3) is used for creating a VHD or floppy disk that exists as a permanent file on the host machine. You can also use this wizard to edit the size or type of an existing hard disk. Virtual PC supports different types of hard drives. The most popular three types are as follows. Figure 3 – Virtual Hard Disk Wizard Dynamically expanding virtual hard disks. These disks are a single file on the physical computer’s hard disk. The virtual hard disk file will dynamically expand as users write data to them. They initially use very little space, and expand up to the maximum size of the disk. Fixed-size virtual hard disks. The fixed-size virtual disks are also a single file that users create on the physical computer’s hard disk. The file is approximately the same size as what you set for the VHD and doesn’t grow or shrink in size. Linked virtual hard disks. Virtual PC supports linkedVHDs, which link directly to a disk in the physical com- puter. This allows you to take advantage of already existing hard disk configurations. Virtual Hard Disks become a VHD file that can be transferred to other hosts. The disks can always be edited through the console or from the virtual window controls (see figure 4). When transferring the .vhd files, make sure to include the .vmc files as well. These files include the settings as discussed earlier for the particular envi- ronment (see figure 5). Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 5
  6. Figure 4. Virtual Window Figure 5 – Virtual PC Hard Disks (.vhd) and Configuration files (.vmc). New Enhancements Virtual PC 2007 is the next installment of the Virtual PC. It has all the features of the predecessor Virtual PC 2004 but includes some important enhancements. Support vs. Compatibility With the release of the Virtual PC 2007 and Vista operating system, come many valuable advantages. Virtual PC has many compatible guest operating systems that will run within the virtual environment. Not all operat- ing systems are supported, though. With the new release, only operating systems that are still supported by Microsoft on a physical machine will be supported in the Virtual PC. Windows 98, for example, will be a com- Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 6
  7. patible operating system and will still run under Virtual PC but will not be supported as far as troubleshooting or help. Windows XP, on the other hand, will be supported by and compatible with the Virtual PC environment. Licensing. Another important enhancement is the improved operating system licensing for Microsoft Vista. For all other operating systems, you must have a separate license to run the operating system in the Virtual PC. This cannot be a license that is already installed on a physical machine or in multiple virtual machines. Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Edition becomes a very nice host system for Virtual PC because you are allowed the install of up to four additional instances for Virtual PC. Optimized for Windows Vista. The virtualization architecture has been optimized for Windows Vista to provide improvements in performance, system resource usage, and stability. Improved performance based on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2. Virtual PC 2007 leverages the performance improvements introduced in Virtual Server 2005 R2. Get the advantages of the Server side. Support for 64-bit host operating systems. You can run Virtual PC 2007 on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. This means you can run 16-bit, 32-bit operating systems (such as Windows 98 SE, or Windows 2000), which are not supported natively on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Support for sound devices in Windows Vista guest operating systems. Virtualized sound device drivers are available to Windows Vista guest operating systems. This allows Windows Vista guest operating sys- tems to play sounds through the host operating system sound devices with virtual drivers that may be differ- ent from that of the host. Other guest operating systems will continue to have sound support as it exists in Virtual PC 2004 today. Possibilities The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, but let me present a few for you. Training As a training company, we have found that virtual machines are very beneficial. We can set up clean classes by merely importing a VHD. Instead of running complicated wiring for an in-class network, virtual machines can run as if in their own contained network. Each student can have three or four machines running with only one host. If labs are included in the course, a VHD can be saved after each successful lab. If a student machine completely fails for some reason, we just replace the VHD with the last lab done by the student. Deployment Most companies will hold off for months or even years to take advantage of the newest release of software because of a fear of incompatibility with current software or systems. With a virtual machine in place, you are able to foresee the areas that will actually be concerns. It is also possible to upgrade to cutting edge operating systems and run older operating systems and proprietary software in a virtual machine. Help Desk It is always frustrating to support many users with different configurations. With Virtual PC, a support profes- sional can bring up any configuration in the company and test issues. Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 7
  8. Avoiding Viruses By setting up a Virtual PC operating system, you can contain all activity to the VHD without penetrating the host operating system. Therefore, all viruses, bugs, spyware, or other malicious software can be cleaned by sim- ply deleting the .vhd file and restoring it with a backup copy previous to damage. Conclusion Virtual PC is much too valuable just to be reading about it. Go to Microsoft’s website and download a copy today. Start using the power of virtual machines and ease of configuration. Hard disk files can be transferred and used in many ways, but please, watch those licensing issues. Now with the release of Virtual PC 2007 hot off the press, you can take full advantage of the new Windows Vista Operating System. Best of all, find new ways to run this amazing program and share them with others. Learn More Learn more about how you can improve productivity, enhance efficiency, and sharpen your competitive edge. Check out our complete list of Microsoft courses at www.globalknowledge.com/microsoft or call 1-800- COURSES to speak with a sales representative. Our courses and enhanced, hands-on labs offer practical skills and tips that you can immediately put to use. Our expert instructors draw upon their experiences to help you understand key concepts and how to apply them to your specific work situation. Choose from our more than 700 courses, delivered through Classrooms, e-Learning, and On-site sessions, to meet your IT and management training needs. About the Author Ron Schindler is an accomplished trainer, speaker, webmaster and President of Absolute Services, a networking and management consulting firm. He has trained groups from one to 100 attendees on topics such as PC trou- bleshooting, Photoshop, Web Development, Management, Business Management, Communications, A+, Microsoft Certification, Microsoft XP, 2003, SQL, and Office Applications. Ron is fluent in Japanese and also does consulting for the Japan – US market. Resources Microsoft® Virtual PC 2004 Technical Overview By Jerry Honeycutt Virtual PC vs. Virtual Server: Comparing Features and Uses Microsoft Corporation by Megan Davis Using Microsoft® Virtual PC 2007 for Application Compatibility White Paper For the latest information,please see http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtualpc/default.mspx. Copyright ©2007 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 8

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