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At War With The Virtual Machines

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From Coral's  "So You Want To Play With Computers" Series

A bit of background first, so this story will make a little sense.

One day, probably because he needed a good laugh, Finagle hooked me up with a church to upgrade/run their Media Booth. {Yeah, I know. I've been to "Hell and back" so many times, I already have my spot picked out and homesteaded}.
Anyhow, getting time to work on their system is hard to do, so I've been dual booting to a clone of their hard drive, so I can check the music, fix/add lyrics, and set up the music schedules, at my place. Then copy the schedules for a couple of weeks to a USB stick to take in with me, and copy to their computer.
But lately they have been throwing new music at me, and booting back and forth between Vista (nic is blocked) and W7, to go online to chase down lyrics, is getting to be a pita.

So I thought I would move Vista to a VM, then I could just toggle between them. Which brings me to what follows:

After firing up my Googlefu, and doing some research, I had a few points I wanted clarified, so I posted a Q on EE, which Finagle promptly kept the VM Gurus from posting in. Looks like I'm on my own.
That's alright. I can do this. After all, I'm a self taught computer geek. I've been mucking with computers for over 25 years. And I recently took a ComTIA  A+  Cram Course, and set the new high A+ test score for that class. As a bonus, it kind of irritated the college boys with IT Degrees that were also taking the class.   {snicker}
So getting a VM up and running, shouldn't be that hard.  I'm good.


At first I was just going to use the VPC that comes with W7. Looks easy enough, and I only need Vista to run the one program the church uses. But in reading about VirtualBox, I saw that it can use the actual HD, so you don't have to convert the drive to a "virtual drive" file.  SWEET!

OK. Let's do this smart. VBox runs on most platforms, so I decided to install it on a laptop running Ubuntu 14, use the oldest backup clone on a external USB HD, and work out the bugs that way. I'm staying well clear of my W7 rig, knowing Finagle's sense of humor, the way I do.
The Install was a breeze. Set up the basic VM, then went to make the "pointer" .VMDK file, so VBox could use the real HD.
First thing to do, is boot the Paragon Adaptive Restore CD, and get rid of the incorrect drivers.
Next is to fire up Ubuntu, and get to the Terminal (Command Prompt in Windows).
I then carefully type in the various commands, and...
ERROR {blablabla} File not created.   What!!??!!

After half a dozen hours of chasing 'fixes' and uncounted attempts over two days to make the file -- Skirmish One goes to VBox.


Back to converting the stupid thing.
But I think I will boot from the External first, and get Vista working. It should be easier that way, instead of fighting with it in the VM.

Set the External to boot first, hit F8 for Safe Mode, watch all the pretty text scroll up the screen, and about halfway through, WHAM!!  CRASH!!  Reboot!
Bugger! A bad clone. Vista is broke.  
Wasted a couple of hours testing the drive (good), and trying to fix the Startup problem, but no joy. It's being a hardcase.

Killed the power to everthing, and moved the External over to the USB hub connected to my W7 rig, to delete the Partitions. Then I can use it to put the "virtual drive" file on, that I can make using the latest clone, from the other day.
Went into Disk Management. Clicked on the drive, checked that it did indeed have the Vista Folder structure, and not W7, and proceded to nuke both Partitions right out of existence.
Man, I wish everything else was going this smooth. Hold on a second. Something isn't right. There's not enough drives listed. Huh???
After a quick look around, the frickin' power cord to the USB hub was unplugged!!!
AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGG!!!!!!! The External never showed, and I just nuked the Vista drive I have been working from!

Just about that time, there was a big gust of wind, a clap of thunder, and it started raining. Apparently Finagle fell off his chair, from laughing so hard he couldn't breathe, and had tears rolling down his face.

Tried a couple of the Undelete programs I keep around for things like this, but they weren't any help this time. Looks like I'm going to have to break out the UBCD disc to fix this problem.

Hold on. It's not the end of the world, yet. I still have the fresh clone I made the other day.
All I have to do is run Adaptive Restore against the fresh clone, and in about a hour, I will be up and going again.
So I Disconnected the W7 drive so nothing would happen to it, connected the fresh clone to the mobo, and with needed tweaks here and there, finally sat back and started watching the text roll up the screen...  
WHAM!!  CRASH!!  Reboot!  

{insertstringofbadwordshere}   Now it's the end of the world.

Frak it. Powered Off, connected the External, and booted the Paragon CD again. This time I used the P2V section to make a virtual drive file. I had Paragon make it a .VHD type, since that's what Windows VirtualPC uses, and VBox can run virtual disk files made from just about all the othe VM's out there.

After some token resistance, I got that to CRASH!! Reboot, in both VPC and VBox. At least I now know the VM's are working good -- so Skirmish Two is a split Decision. I got the VM's up and running, but it cost me a Vista install.


All that's left to do now, is make another clone, and get the dual boot working again. Then I can make a new .VHD of Vista, with the correct drivers in place, and just drop it into VirtualPC.
But I think I will take a few days of R&R, first. I need a break from this -- so Skirmish Three goes to ME!

If anybody needs me, call somebody else....   ; )

up and running.

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Author Comment

added screenshot of Vista running in MS Virtual PC.    ; )

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