James O'Neill's Blog

September 6, 2007

Windows Server Virtualization, some early learnings

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 12:00 am

It has been a frustrating few days.

I’ve got a new (internal) interim build of Windows Server Virtualization to test. Since we’re on the road doing virtualization in a few weeks I’ve used my second internal hard disk (£28 from Scan, or over £100 from Dell with a small peice of plastic attached). Of course that meansthe disk that I do my work on is out of the machine and I’m working in notepad at the moment.

Since I didn’t want to join my 2008 Server to the domain, it doesn’t meet the IP-Sec requirements to connect to corporate servers – although I can connect to the internet via a proxy.

What I can say about WSV is limited and although I’m taking screenshots as I go, the product folks have asked that we don’t post any yet. I haven’t tested the performance and it’s way to early to do so. Since the product isn’t even in beta yet I’m not going to shed much light on features for the time being; although I’ll mention in passing is that WSV doesn’t support connections to wireless networks from a child OS.
What I can say is that moving VMs over from Virtual PC / Virtual Server works, and you can mix old 32bit VMs with new 64bit ones. WSV has “enlightenments” which mean that, instead of seeing emulated hardware, the VM can see one end of a “VM bus” so it sees a VM-Ethernet card (very fast), a VM-Graphics card, a vM-hard disk. The are installed like old VM extensions (by mounting an ISO); but if you don’t remove the old ones first you get a message telling you to do so.Unfortunately removing the old VM extensions involves calling the setup program which checks to see it is running in the right environment. WSV isn’t “right” so it refuses to run, even though you are uninstalling. A brute force and Ignorance removal left me a VM with no mouse ….  

No worries I thought , OK. Off to download virtual PC 2007, which warns me it doesn’t like the OS; set-up a VM using one of the hard disks start it and and BANG! the host machine reboots. Wow it really doesn’t like the OS. So I swithced hard disks to use Virtual PC on vista – plugged in my USB hard disk that had a copy of the VM on and removed the extensions. Of course by the time I had done that it was time to go home so I picked up in the evening at home

The Server 2003 VM I wanted to use told me that my hardware has changed a lot and I have 3 days to activate Windows. No worries… except my home network is wireless so the machine can’t connect to the internet. Next I installed the enlightenments and BANG even my 3 day grace period has gone: I got the “Go directly to activation, do not pass GO etc” message.  Never mind,it was past midnight, so I thought “I’ll do that from the office in the morning”

When I got to the office I found something was wrong with the filesystem (blame the beta OS) and it took an age to fix. When I finally got the VM on the office wired network, I tried to activate. No joy “You’ve used that key” said activation. If I were a customer I’d have to call someone up to get a fix. But as a Microsoft employee I can get keys from an internal server … except that I can’t connect to the server because my machine isn’t joined to the domain.

It all sounds like a version of “there’s a hole in my bucket” I can see a resolution to issue of removing the enlightenments but the change of hardware emulated causing an issue for activation is one that needs to the OS to fix it, and it’s hard to see how that will happen without creating a route for piracy. (Expect some announcemnts on press pass about Vista anti-piracy changes this week).

When I finally got the a key using another machine and got the VM activated it turned out I couldn’t access the files I wanted to use for Server 2003 SP2, so I ended up using a different VM (2003 SP1) whch hadn’t kicked up the same fuss about the change in (virtual) hardware.

Ho-hum. At least I’m a bit wiser.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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