Thursday, September 21, 2006

Virtual Vista RC1 - "Re" Vista-ed

Get it? Re-Vista-ed, re-visited...? ....nevermind....(sigh)

So here I have been playing with Vista RC1 in a number of different Virtual PC 2004 sessions on a newly released business-class model Dell laptop (XP Pro), a (I think) higher-end consumer Compaq laptop (XP Home), and a mid-range older Shuttle desktop system (XP Home).

I've done some tweaking and surfing and here are some new updates you might be interested in.

Dealing with the Vista RC1 ISO

I have been using Daemon Tools to mount ISO's "virtually" for a long time on all my systems (2000 Pro / XP Home/Pro) and have never had an issue. I use the 32-bit flavor of it. Haven't tried the 64-bit offering. Dwight Silverman posted a comment that when he tried it on his system, some unpleasant things occurred....Hard to say.

Another alternative you may want to try is Alcohol 120%. I used this software in the past and found it very polished and great. Only drawback was that it is trialware and not freeware. It is another alternative.

While poking around in the Alcohol Soft forums, I found this post that announces that they are offering Alcohol 52% in a free version that has " limitations on this version, other than the ability to create only 6 virtual drives. [The] retail version still supports 31 virtual drives. Remember you can not run Alcohol 52% if you have Alcohol 120% installed on the same drive. This version of Alcohol 52% is for private, non-commercial, single home computer use only.The license is provided personally to you and for that reason it does not allow you to make any duplicate (copy) to be sold, borrowed, assigned, leased or transferred." I haven't tired Alcohol 52% but this might be a great freeware alternative to either Daemon Tools (freeware) or Alcohol 120% ($$). (Nice outline of the differences between the 52% and 120% proof versions!)

Ed Bott wrote a post as well Working with ISO files that lays out IsoBuster and CDmage (as suggested on a MSDN page) that seems to suggest those tools can be used to mount ISO's as images also. I couldn't find how to do it after a good part of a day trying/reading the Help guides. If anyone knows, I'd love a tip. I frequently use IsoBuster and love it. I can't make my pleasure and satisfaction in their product known well enough. It's fantastic. CDmage was a nice find as well.

Why do we need to jump through these hoops to mount the ISO in Virtual PC 2004? (Assuming you don't want to just burn a DVD of the Vista RC1 ISO...)

Remember, Virtual PC 2004 can mount a "real" physical disk and it can also mount an ISO image of a disk as a "virtual" disk cannot read ISO images over 2.2GB. Why not? I don't know....ask Microsoft...

So, choose your method of dealing with the Vista RC1 ISO accordingly.

Can I try to install Daemon Tools or Alcohol 120% on Vista RC1?

Daemon Tools--Not really and probably shouldn't try according to this Daemon Tools Forum thread.

Same seems to be the case with Alcohol 120% as well for now.

Some think it is a Konspiracy! Moving on....

Powering up Vista RC1 in Virtual PC 2004

So once I got it running on all the systems, it was still "kinda" slow for real usage. What now?

Well, I went back to the unpacked setup files of Virtual PC 2004. In there is a sub-folder titled "Laptop Hotfix". According to the corresponding Microsoft KB article 889677 it helps with getting Virtual PC to respond after bringing the laptop/desktop out of hibernation mode. It installs on the host system (not the virtual session). So I put that on all the machines for good measure. Performance--no change.

Next I bumped up the RAM setting in the virtual pc settings on my Vista RC1 file as high as I could get it to take. That maxed out around 650ish RAM before it balked. Small help.

Finally, I decided to risk everything and try installing some of the beta "Virtual Server" add-ons that were released for earlier versions of Vista. This was the ticket! Yes, that's right. I decided to live dangerously and install some add-ons, 1) not specifically released for Virtual PC 2004 and 2) not even specifically released for RC1 version of Vista. Know what? I'm glad I did!

Read the Virtually Vista post FINALLY: Virtual Machine Additions for Beta 2 are available on where to go and how to get the Microsoft Virtual Machine Additions for Windows Vista Beta 2. If you have stuck with me so far, you've probably already gotten your Windows Live ID account when you picked up Vista RC1. Use that to log into the site, and join in to participate in the Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 1 program. Now you can download all the goodies. Once on the page, go to Downloads link on the left. First one I tried was the VM Additions for Visa Beta 2.

I downloaded the file, unpacked it, and found the Addition file in my Program Folders list. I renamed the old one in my Virtual PC / add-ons folder, then copied this new one into it, then followed my previously posted steps on installing this Virtual Addition.

It installed, it complained about 3 services that were running that it didn't like and wanted closed. I was able to end two of them in the Services Console window, but the third running service (Windows Explorer--the GUI shell???) I couldn't end. So I eventually clicked Ignore and it installed. Vista rebooted, and installed it again on the reboot. I think I had to "Ignore" again, anyway it installed and after one more reboot, was back up. Virtual Vista RC1 performance was noticeably snappier on all my systems that I did this on.

I was even able to match the screen resolution of Lavie's laptop, then pop the Virtual PC window into "full size mode" and when I showed Lavie, she really thought I had loaded Vista "real-time" onto her laptop. Performance was that good (though still not rocking-fast/great). Your mileage on this may vary, of course.

What broke in Vista RC1 by using this unsupported add-on? Well, only thing I could tell was that now the shared drive folder I set up to transfer files between my "real" and "virtual" pc's was now displaying an ass-ugly unattractive icon instead of the original pretty one. Also it reports that the shared folder is "disconnected" even though if you click into the folder anyway, it clearly is still connected and you can still copy files back and forth in it. Hmmm. Nothing else harmed so far (on the surface anyway) that I can tell.

Since that turned out well, I downloaded the full Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta2 (32-bit) package onto my XP Pro machine (since it won't go through an install on XP Home). I ran the setup so I could extract the latest Vista supported Additions package that is supposedly included in this one). I then found the Additons file, copied it into the appropriate Virtual PC 2004 program folder, then uninstalled Virtual Server 2005 (don't need that much firepower). Finally I went through the same installation steps (with balks at the three running services again and subsequent reboots). It took, same issue with the network folder. Couldn't tell any performance gains or I personally can't recommend you experiment with using this VM Addition pack.

John Howard says to uninstall previous VM Additions first before putting on a new one. (Oops! better go back and do that over...see if that helps!)

Should you try this? Can't say. You decide. It did make enough of a performance boost on my Virtual Vista systems I'm keeping it on. Fooled Lavie good.

I'd at least try using the VM Additions for Vista Beta 2. If you are kind nervous, just make a copy of your current Vista RC1 Virtual PC files. That way if you don't like it, just delete the one you played with, and restore the old ones. Instant imaging! One of the benefits of using virtual systems!

Vista Tips, Impressions, and Useful Links

Tip #1 Rebooting Vista RC1 in Virtual PC can take a while. So.....instead of "shutting down" Virtual Vista, just shut it down in Virtual PC instead, and choose the option to save the current state. It will write the status of your virtual session when it closes. Next time you want to play...just restart and Vista will be right back up where you left it...kinda like a virtual hibernation. Saves a ton of time.

Tip #2 Are you getting tired quickly of the constant security permission requests Vista is presenting you? Turn off Secure Desktop: "In the Administrative Tools menu, select Local Security Policy (you'll get the security prompt). In the left pane of the console, expand Local Policies and click Security Options. Scroll down in the right pane to the item labeled "User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation" and double click. This policy is enabled by default; click Disable to turn the behavior off." (Courtesy of SunbeltBlog)

Tip#3 Still confused about Aero Glass, Vista Standard, Vista Basic and Windows Classic GUI effects? Ed Bott posts a link to Long Zheng's awesome comparison post that visually and clearly illustrates the differences.

Computer Zen dude Scott Hanselman vents his frustrations with Vista Beta 4. Nice background review. Vista Reliability and my Tolerance for Pain

Scott also details how ReadyBoost (hook a FAST USB drive up to your system and leverage it for extra system RAM) and how it works with Vista. Interesting....

shell:revealed The Microsoft development team responsible for the XP/Vista GUI interfaces (shell) are up and blogging. It's a wonderfully refreshing peak into the working of the eye-candy team.

Additional Virtual PC 2004 blogs and useful linkage...for the curious

Someone Else blog - (Robert Moir) has a new post on Vista RC1 on a Mac, as well as this useful post archive category on Computers - Virtual Machines with lots of well written suggestions.

While we are still talking about Robert Moir. he has this wonderful FAQ on Virtual PC 2004 that must be bookmarked by anyone toying with Microsoft Virtual PC. Lots of great links, tips and tricks.

Jonathan Maltz has way too much time on his hands. He's documented an impressively large listing of various operating systems that do and do not work on Virtual PC 2004.

Megan Davis is a technical writer at Microsoft. She has a blog with the catchy title: The Soul of a Virtual Machine. Virtual Server is a kissing-cousin of Virtual PC. While much more technically based, there are a number of good articles here.

Virtual Machine Downloads - on Useful list of links and related files/topics.

Michael Swanson has some useful posts regarding Virtual PC 2004. Check out his blog as well.

Finally, there are some useful tips here on Tuning Virtual PC Performance. Not too heavy to read. If you are really getting into this Virtual PC thing, check the page out.... (via Windows Networking)

Vista RC1 and VMware

No, I haven't forgotten about that other darling of virtualization...VMware.

It can be done. Seemed to take some work according to this VMware forum thread.

Tim posted a comment in this Virtually Vista post that he found it to be (generally) smoother than in Virtual PC. posted a tip for setting up the VMware configuration .vmx file video settings to a better screen resolution so Vista RC1 won't hang up in the setup process under VMware.

Finally, for you German speakers out there (or those clever enough to use a web-translator), Tipps, Tricks, Tweaks..rund um Windows website has a post "Windows Vista RC1 unter VMware installieren" which translates (roughly) to "How I got Vista rockin under VMware--with screen-shots." Well...not really, but that's a good summary....I couldn't write it any least not in German...

Claus Valca's thoughts on Vista RC1.

Love it. Looking forward to it. Hope they get all the needed hardware drivers supported for it before it gets released...mighty impressed so far...both as a home-user and as a sysadmin.

Gute Fahrt / Reise!


1 comment:

Claus said...


I went back and uninstalled the "Virtual Machine Additions for Beta 2" I had installed ON TOP OF the existing Virtual Machine Additions that come with Virtual PC 2004.

1) First attempt--Go to Control Panel in Vista...Look for Add/Remove Programs. Not there! What? Oh, now it's been renamed "Programs and Features". Whatever. Tried to uninstall from there, but refused as I didn't have sufficient administrative rights. What? I'm in the Administrator Group!

2) Found that typing gpedit.msc in the Run line will still bring up the Group Policy editor in Vista. At least that is the same. Poked around but figured I would waste too much time tweaking these things.

3) Had a Eureka moment. Since I had to install Virtual Machine Additions via the Virtual PC 2004 menu (outside the virtual OS) tried to re-run it again, hoping I would get an option to uninstall. Yep! Bingo. That technique gave the system/action sufficiently higher rights than administrator (System maybe?). Pulled off.

4) After reboot, logged back in (running deathly slow again without the Virtual Additions in place--lost network connectivity as well) and reinstall the Virtual Addition again, cleanly. Didn't need a second reboot/installation this time.

Enhanced virtual performance has returned (along with network connectivity--but that shared folder icon is still reporting "disconnected" and is "unattractive" even though the shared folder connection is working).

OK. Enough of that for now...