Friday, December 12, 2008

Vista SP2 Includes Hyper-V…

...but you can’t actually access it:

“Hyper-V *

  • “Windows Vista SP2 includes Hyper-V™ technology, enabling full virtualization of server workloads

“*To clarify, Hyper-V is not included in Windows Vista SP2, it is part of the Windows Server 2008 service pack. This means that when you install SP2 for Windows Server 2008, or if you install a slipstreamed version of Windows Server 2008 with SP2, the RTM version of the Hyper-V role will be included. Hyper-V was released after Windows Server 2008, which means that the role you currently install is a pre-release role and needs to be updated to bring it up to RTM. This update will be applied (only if necessary) automatically when you install SP2.”

The post goes on to state that*:

“There Is Now Free Lunch*, (*to clarify: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)”.

*To clarify, the post does not actually state that.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Installing Security Update for SQL Server Service Pack 2 (KB954606) takes a LOOOONG time

While I’m ranting, I might as well point out that installing the Security Update for SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (KB954606) takes forever and a day, with no info in the “Overall Progress” bar.  That said – don’t try to cancel the update, the Cancel operation takes just as long.  So the longer you waited before you gave up on the update, the longer you’ll have to wait for the cancellation to finish.


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<rant> The Bane of my VPC Existence


Aaaargh.  Other than simply plugging the plug on my VPC (Action – Close – Turn Off), there just doesn’t seem to be a reliable way to quickly suspend my VPC work: 


Since I work on an external drive with a standalone power supply I don’t dare simply suspending my laptop.

Finding that this is an issue that basically has been around since 1998 does not make me any more happy:

Still Some Bumps -- We mentioned in TidBITS-397 that changing the Mac's state, such as swapping a CD-ROM drive for a floppy drive in a PowerBook, could wreak havoc with Virtual PC's "saved state" feature. This is somewhat understandable, since when Virtual PC saves the state of your emulated PC clone for quick launching later, it has to assume that the physical machine will remain the same.

However, Virtual PC could handle these situations more gracefully. The current procedure - informing the user that the saved PC state could not be restored, and then restarting the PC - nearly guarantees the same kind of directory damage and hurt feelings that suddenly restarting a real PC would cause. The software should tell the user what's wrong and either allow an opportunity to set things right before proceeding or cancel the launch and let the user try again later with the proper hardware present, resorting to a restart only as a final option.

TidBITS, Mac News for the rest of us: Virtual PC 2.0: Not Just a Minor Upgrade

Oh – and in case you’re thinking this talks about a different product, no – it’s the same…:

Virtual PC was originally developed by Connectix for the Macintosh and was released in June 1997. In June 2001 the first version of Virtual PC for Windows, version 4.0, was released. Connectix sold versions of Virtual PC bundled with a variety of operating systems, including many versions of Windows, OS/2, and Red Hat Linux. As it became clear that virtualization was important to the enterprise, Microsoft became interested in the sector and acquired Virtual PC and an (at the time) unreleased product called "Virtual Server" from Connectix in February 2003. 

Wikipedia, Microsoft Virtual PC, Version History

I’m oh so happy to see that Connectix/MS did NOTHING to address this in the 8-9 years between v2 and v2007.


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mounting a Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) as a Disk Drive or Folder

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2 (who named this thing?) has a utility called VhdMount which lets you mount a virtual hard drive file as a disk on your physical machine.  This comes in handy when say, you know you have a file in one vpc (A), but you’re already in another vpc (B) and you don’t want to shut down B, start up A, copy from A to the host, shut down A, start up B, and copy from the host to B.  (And it’s not as if you can add the vhd for A to B at runtime; that would be too convenient.)

In theory, once you have Virtual Server 2005 (R2 SP1 Beta 2) installed, mounting a vhd should be as easy as calling the following from a command line:

“C:\program files\microsoft virtual server\vhdmount\vhdmount.exe” /m VHDFileName [DriveLetter]

However, it’s not quite that easy:  because the device driver is in beta, it’s not signed and can’t be installed automatically (at least not in XP and Vista).  So after you (attempt to) mount the vhd, you have to perform some additional steps outlined here:

(The article also describes how you can install the VhdMount utility only, and not the full Virtual Server.)

These steps are a pain, since they have to be done EVERY TIME you mount a drive, but they’re still better than the A-B dance listed above.  Supposedly, the steps are supposed to become unnecessary when the service pack finally ships, as the drivers will then be signed.  Supposedly.  Also, to lessen some of the pain, you can add a registry entry to mount a vhd by double-clicking, as described by Virtual PC Guy here:

(Virtual PC Guy also acknowledges the painful steps you have to go through in XP (and Vista):


Monday, May 07, 2007

Idea: Clustered Virtual Machine to run Windows on EC2

Surely this is already done (if not on EC2 then elsewhere), or someone is working on it, or it's just not possible and I am making a fool of myself for writing this, but...

I was looking again at Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) and was thinking it's too bad I can't use it for Windows (well, you can, but not with performance).

Idea: Use a cluster of EC2 nodes to serve up a single Virtual Machine image, on top of which you could run software designed for a single server with more resources than is currently available from EC2.

This could also be extensible to regular computers on a LAN, which would probably be the more likely scenario.

I guess this is (sort of) what Google's Cluster does, right?


Monday, March 19, 2007

VPC Networking Tip

This may be blindingly obvious to some, but I didn’t think to do this until today:

If you are connecting your VPC to the internet from multiple physical locations and network topologies (such as from the office, home, or Starbucks), you may want to add a virtual network card for both your physical Ethernet and Wireless cards. That way the VPC should automatically pick up at least one of the two connections (assuming you have a connection from the host).

Unless you’re one of those freaks who actually shut down your laptop and vpc, you’ll still most likely have to dance the ipconfig /release and ipconfig /renew jig (on both the host and the vpc) but at least there’s one less step to do to get connected.


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