winxp mode, virtualbox, and VMware Player

Man, I haven’t posted in a long dang time. I’ve been working on a lot of really different and cool things at work and at home.

backdoor man

The other day, I read a post about using split tunnel vpn on WinXP Mode on Windows 7. I like this idea. Essentially, it is simply setting up a virtual machine, installing VPN software on the virtual machine, and using the virtual machine to VPN into your destination network.

I like it for a couple of reasons:

  • My host OS (Windows 7) continues to do whatever it was doing, (bitorrent, IM, etc).
  • My WinXP virtual machine can be 100% dedicated to work stuff

Don’t get me wrong. For work, I have a really nice Macbook Pro. And in the office, I have all the accessories set up so I can just “plug in” and be productive. But at home, I have a pretty beefy Win7 machine and I like using the big monitor and ergo keyboard.

keep moving forward

I was using LogMeIn to access my Mac from my Win7 desktop, but it wasn’t great. I use Virtualbox on my Win7 desktop with Ubuntu Linux and love it, but the VPN doesn’t work great, so and I really need some of the Microsoft functionality.

So, I tried to get it set up with WinXP Mode and it worked pretty well. I installed Office 2007 and use Ninite to install my typical Windows apps. It worked great.  I used WinXP Mode for a couple of days with work and it was okay; I’ve got no major complaints… except I don’t care for the Virtual PC interface and graphic performance stinks.

At first I ran the VMWare converter utility and I created a Physical to Virtual machine and stored the .vmdk on a different harddrive.  Then I installed the VMWare Player and discovered it had an option already to “import Win XP Mode Virtual Machine.” How cool, I thought!

… and so it begins

Computers sometimes suck.

Computers sometimes suck.

After a few minutes, the import completed and I tried to fire it up.  I got an error message that said, “Unable to connect to this virtual machine. Make sure you have proper permissions…. etc” or something along those lines. Uh-oh, I thought.

So then I went to open the converted image I created and got the same error.  Boo!  At that point, I tried to start Virtualbox and I got an even more cryptic error about some kernel.dll not being able to load.  I assumed it was a conflict between VMWare Player and Virtualbox.  So I uninstalled the VMWare Player.

After a reboot, (to complete the de-installation), Virtualbox started up fine, I opened the .vmdk I created and it did open!  I thought I was making progress.  Then, as I read elsewhere, WinXP Mode wants to reactivate itself under Virtualbox.  I couldn’t even get logged in. Upon attempting to activate, it said my product code was invalid.

success!

Still, I was very intriqued about the VMWare Player’s WinXP import utility so I decided to reinstall it and try again.  This time, after I installed it, I did not reboot my system as the installation process requested.  Instead I tried the import again… and it worked!

It installed VMWare Tools… the only drawback was that it was the original WinXP VM so none of my installed apps or settings were there.  That’s cool, I thought since you always can do something better the second time around!

So right now, I just finished installing my favorite free apps using NiNite, and am installing Office, Communicator, and my companies VPN software.

So far, I can say the experience with VMWare Player is much better than the original WinXP Mode.  The VM is noticably faster and the graphics is very much improved.  My host system is pretty beefy, so YMMV, but here’s my settings for my WinXP VM:

  • Memory: 768MB
  • CPU’s: 2
  • Network Adapter: Bridged
  • Sound Card and Display: Autodetect

Great Success!

You can find the links to all the software I used if you want to play along.

Windows 7 is pretty slick…

Nothing fancy to see here, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions around Windows 7. I figured I’d answer them. I recently attended a Microsoft event here in Atlanta where they handed out full copies of Windows 7 Ultimate. They handed out the 32bit version but I can verify that the same key will work on the 64bit version.

Q. Do you like Windows 7?

A. I love it.  I can honestly say that “it just works!”

Q. Why do you like it?

A. Well, at work I use a Mac, and I know it sounds cliche to say that Windows 7 is very Mac-like, but it is.

Q. Will it work with my system?

A. My PC is best a “franken-puter” that I’ve rebuilt and upgraded parts of it over the years.  Not only do I see a impressive performance improvement, I have yet to manually install any drivers.  Win7 found ’em all. So yeah, I’m willing to bet it will certainly work with your system.

Q. Can you get me a copy?

A. Alas, no.  But if I get some more Google wave invites, I might be able to hook you up with that.

Q. Are you using Antivirus? If so, what do you use?

A. Yes, I am using Anti-virus. You’d be nuts not to.  I am personally using Avast.

Q. Are you aware of anything that doesn’t work with Win7?

A. Yes, I know of a few things that don’t work.  Mainly the only thing I really want to use is VMWare’s VI client.  It will not run under Windows 7, or at least the version I’m using.  I’ll check for an update after I finish this post.

Q. I heard you have to format and reinstall if you are upgrading from WinXP? Is that true?

A. Yes, it is, and you know what? I am SO glad I decided to take the plunge.  I backed up all my users Documents and Settings using the WinXP back up utility and was able to restore them and I am so glad I did. Remember, I said my computer have been rebuilt and upgraded many times. Starting “fresh” allowed me to eliminate a bunch of crap and set some things right.  No regrets! Just plan for it and you’ll be in good shape.

Q. What else have you installed on your “new” system?

A. Since I started fresh, I have installed only stuff that I need. I’ll continue to install stuff as I need ’em, but here’s what I installed so far:

If you got other questions, please let me know! I’m sorry I didn’t have a more catchy post title.

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

This cracks me up.  I have been getting a ton of spam comments from the .ru TLD, and it always begins with either:

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

Or

Interesting CMS. What software do you use?

Or some variant of the above.  C’mon, guys, if you are going to try and trick me, you got to do better than that. At this point, I am almost insulted at this feeble attempt.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

Tonight I’m sort of reflective. So much as happened since I last posted. Certainly some of it is good, some of it is exciting, and some of it has certainly been a challenge.  I spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a Youtube vid that represents my mood, but unfortunately, I think the risk of misunderstanding is too high, so therefore, I refrain.

I usually post about technology or funny things, but so much has been queuing up, it’s hard for me to decide where to begin.

  • I am still madly in love with my T-Mobile G1, the Google/Android based phone.  I saw that Google had an Éclair delivered to their office: Each release of the Android OS has been named after pastries: Cupcake, Donut… Éclair is rumored to be Android 2.0…
  • I actually had my first Corny Keg experience with my homebrew in anticipation of our neighborhood Oktoberfest.  Pics and vids to follow, (it’s this weekend).
  • I’ve been rehabbing a rental house in my spare (but limited) time.
  • I’ve been learning Python, (but had to use Perl in a recent pinch).
  • More and more people are asking me for help with Trixbox and Cisco SIP phones.
  • I’ve been to HP HQ in Houston, TX for an executive briefing; I was blown away and met some really cool people.
  • I am meeting with Cisco regarding their UCS offering.
  • I’ve been meeting with Microsoft (and attend the ‘Technical Decision Makers Launch’ of Window 7, Server 2008, and Exchange 2008.
  • I am planning on attending the VMWare Users group event in Atlanta on November 5th, 2009.  Maybe I’ll see ya, there?
  • I’ve been enjoying Google Wave! (Sorry, I haven’t been able to send out invites, yet… so don’t ask!)
  • I have a new WinCE based GPS that I am hacking, (oh yeah, I forgot about this, but it’s a big ‘un!).

So I’ve been busy, but it’s been good. Any of the above items could be a separate blog post.

I’ve been really impressed with Google Wave.  It ain’t perfect yet, but I see the potential of it.  I might even go as far to say that it could be Email 2.0 but I probably need to elaborate on that.  Along the same note, I wonder if Twitter is the new USENET.  <- If you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But if you want my highly entertaining, hand waving monologue on this, let’s meet for a beer!

vmware home project

Okay, it really isn’t a “home project”; I just like playing around with it. We’ve been really going forward with VMWare at work and I have drank the cool aide. I see the bigger picture and how it all fits into place. But I wanted to get an understanding of how it work and how it can be broken and at what point does it fall over.

The Server
I have the fortune to check out a Dell 1750 from work and bring it home and I am running VMWare ESXi.  Yes, I have a rack in my basement and a home run box so this is easy to stick in, (but man, is this thing loud.  I can hear the fans on the first floor).  It’s got dual xeon’s and 2GB of memory.   My goals are as follows:

  • Set up a Spacewalk server (the open source version of Redhat’s Satellite)
  • Run a Trixbox Image
  • Run a media server (TBD)
  • Run a dedicated MySQL server
  • Run a local WordPress installation

So I figure five different servers running CentOS would be a good proof of concept.  At this point, I thought I’d be able to post a bunch of good things about the set up, but it’s been a learning experience.  So I was able to upgrade the drives, reconfigure the RAID setup and start over.  It is my intention to post my finding and results over time. 

Yes, and in case you are wondering, I am intentionally over subscribing my VM’s to my Dell 1750.  I wanted to learn how to make it run as effeciently as possible and see how far I can push it.

Definitely… more to come.