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Some basic Virtual Machine questions

Posted on 2009-07-15
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Seems an eternity ago I did a two 2K migration from old to new machine, but was actually less than two weeks.  I got the images transferred, the boots working, but paths to components in the registries of the two old systems are now all stale, and CCleaner shows dlls that are "missing" by the hundreds.  The partitions are maybe 50 percent functional.

I'm looking seriously at MS Virtual PC 07 as an alternative.  But to paraphrase old Bones McCoy, "Damit Jim, I'm a programmer, not an OS guy."  I'm on thin ice here, so here are my dumb questions:

All the discussion I find on MS and sites like eHow describe fresh install of OS on the virtual machines.  Is implementing an image of an existing installation a simple variant of that?

Will the virtual machine boot as though it is mapped to an "original" drive?  That is, would my current 2K, with registry entries pointing to a D drive, think that it is a D: drive?  Or am I missing something basic, such as that the virtual machines don't boot, you just run them?

What about drivers?  Getting the 2K images to play nice with the new chipset was not trivial, and the 2K repair didn't get it all right.  Would not that same circle of Hell remain in the virtual machine approach?

Thanks for any help.
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Question by:pziemer
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by:graye
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Well, let's start at the begining...   Virtual PC will allow you to install a new "guest" OS inside a "hosted" OS.   You can configure them to see each other (or not) .    So you'd actually be running two complete computers inside one physical computer.
There is also server product that is designed for unattented use.
So the install of the quest OS is typically the same as a traditional "bare metal" install... where you boot from the CDROM and run the installer to create a new partition, copy the files, reboot, etc.
However, since the hardware is virtualized, there's never any issue with driver compatiability.   For example, a Virtual Hard Drive that was created on Machine A, can be run on Machine B without any trouble, even if Machine A and Machine B have radically different hardware.
Once you've created a "standard image"... you'd just shutdown Virtual PC and use the good ole copy command to make a copy of the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) file.    Later when you need to create another virtual PC, you can just  start with that VHD and pick up where you left off.
The Virtual PC download is small, and it's fun to play with, so I'd recommend that you just give it a whirl
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by:pziemer
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Thanks for the quick response and tutorial!  One point of clarification, if you don't mind:

if I install from an image (Acronis ImageMagic) onto the Virtual Hard Drive, that image has shared/system/software specific DLL's references that are defined in the registry with the full path including the "old" drive letter.  Does the Virtual PC have the capability of, in effect, "spoofing" the proper drive?  If that's the case, then this is clearly the way to go with multiple OS.  If not, I'm not sure that I gain too much over the traditional multiple partition approach, at least in terms of setup.

Thanks again
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graye earned 500 total points
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Well, you *can* configure a Virtual PC to see the phyiscal drives.. but that's not normally how you'd do it.   Instead, you'd normally crreate yet another drive in the virtual world (just like you'd do in the physical world).   So, if you're Virtual image needs/want to have a D: drive, then you'd create one... and copy files from physical to virtual.
There are some good tools out there that help you transitiion to/from the virtual PC and physical PC.... although I'm not familiar with Acronis ImageMagic
If I'm following you... Yes, you could have many virtual C: drives all connected to the same virtual D: drive.
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Author Comment

by:pziemer
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graye:

Okay, thanks.  You've given me enough for me to go ahead and try it tonight.

BTW, ImageMagic is not defined to be a physical/virtual tool, at least not directly.  It is a product that makes an image of an entire partition (sector by sector if desired) so that the image can be used to rollback, recover, or transfer a complete OS and application environment.  The way I did the multiboot was to build two NTFS partitions on the new machine's drive, place the old partition images in the new partitions, then run the 2K Setup repair on them.  

This took care of most (of course, not all) of the driver issues to the point I could boot up and use the OSs.  However, what it did not take care of was the change in drive letters.  The Acronis product has a drive mapping feature, but I didn't use it, and did not (really, still don't) understand the drive letter assignment process (when is the dvd "D" and when isn't it?)  to have used it to effect.  

Anyway, I'm totally satisfied with your responses, and accepting and grading accordingly.

Thank you.
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Author Closing Comment

by:pziemer
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I didn't do the comment sequence right; my last posted comment really belonged here.  So I'll use this instead:

comment* *authorComments = new comment * [ 2 ];
int idxOfLastComment = mapAllComments( & authorComments );

comment *accecptedSolutionComment = authorComments[idxOfLastComment]

That's sufficiently indirect, and until I get the drive references fixed, it's the last C++ I'll be doing for a while.
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