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  1. #1
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    Virtualization questions from a VM newbie

    OK- Ive always taken the new hard drive route when a new OS comes out. I add the drive in my good ol' dual core HP test box, install the OS to the new drive from optical media and use the F12 BIOS boot option to boot to what ever hard drive/OS I want.

    Ive run out of room in my test system for new drives - Wire tying a new hard drive up inside is not a good option, so Im considering alternatives. The obvious one is virtualization, but other than knowing the basic concept of Solaris zones from several years ago, Im pretty new to it and have no experience in virtualization on Windows at all. I understand that you can make a VM inside a system, actually several if you want to, but I don't know how to do it on a Windows host, how to boot a VM once its created, or how to manage the hardware in the system going forward [if that's even a concern]

    Im considering VirtualBox as my VM software. But Ive got a number of questions:

    1. Does creating a VM set up a logical new hard drive space from an available pool of storage? What does it get called? Can I choose the drive letter?

    2. I know I assign hardware resources to the VM. If I only have one VM booted at a time, can I assign 1/2 of my RAM to the host and 1/2 to the current VM, without impacting other VMs? I plan to only have one VM booted at a time, along with the host. Or is the VM manager smart enough to spread the demand for RAM across booted systems?

    3. Can I restore a [Macrium Reflect] image to a VM? How will this impact the current drivers on the image? [All the images would be coming from other OSes already loaded on the same test system]

    4. Can I combine internal drive resources for a larger pool amount of storage with a VM i.e. if the system has additional 500G HD + 250G HD - will this give me an available 750G for VM space or am I stuck with usual physical limitations of disks? [these drives are not part of the primary boot device and are internal and additional to the system disk drive] What Im asking is can I create a logical volume between several other unused disks to make a larger source pool of storage.

    5. Im presuming that I can use the DVDROM that's part of the host hardware to install an OS from optical disk. Is there any trick on mounting the DVD in the VM? Can this be configured to happen on boot of the VM? I have multiple optical disk drives on my test system

    6. Can I use USB ports that are on the host system in a VM for flash drives, external hard drives, etc? If so, do they become dedicated to the VM or are/can they assigned to the VM as needed?

    7. Does anyone have a suggestion for something [free/open source] other than VirtualBox? Why?

    You can tell Im a real newbie in VM, but Im certainly willing to give it a try. Thanks to anyone that responds.

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger lumpy95's Avatar
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    I'm in the same boat ( no knowledge of VM workings ), I'll be interested in the answers.

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    I use VMWare Player (free) so I'll give you answers based on that player but VBox is going to be similar. A VM is basically one big file that goes in a folder somewhere once it's created and has a OS installed to it. Works best if it's on a different drive than the system drive, with a fast data bus.

    All VMs operate from within the VM software shell so that's where everything is assigned and controlled, from RAM allocation to DVD drives and USB devices, etc., and the VMs only take up resources they were specified to have when they are running.

    Restoring images to VMs is just not done for any useful purpose. Some software will convert some images from some companies to VMs; Acronis images come to mind. Also some physical installations can be converted into VMs. Once a VM is established, this is the backup procedure from a VMWare KB article:

    To back up the virtual machine:
    Ensure your virtual machine is in a powered off state.
    Locate the virtual machine folder. For more information, see Locating a hosted virtual machine's files (1003880)
    Right-click the virtual machine folder and click Copy.
    Navigate to the folder in which you want to store the backup, right-click anywhere within the folder, and click Paste.


    The rest of the questions all refer back to the resource assignment settings in the VM shell. I don't think there would ever be a need to assign a large pool of storage. In fact best practices dictates never storing data in a VM since a corrupt VM, while easy to replace, may not be so easily repaired to retrieve data; capture a USB port with a drive attached and use that instead.

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    Virtualbox has all kinds of problems with Win10 host right now; I'm working around them, but it's been quite disappointing. I would recommend Virtualbox, but would wait until they make it truly compatible with Win10 host. Even the latest version is not being released as compatible with Win10, though, with caveats, still works. Not sure about VMWare Player.

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    1. The disk in a VM looks like a standard disk and can be partitioned / formatted / assigned any drive letter allowed by the OS. As FUN said, it's actually a file or files, so you can add space to the disk by adding additional file space from your physical disk in real time.

    2. The VM manager use the maximum RAM you have allocated as an upper limit. If the OS doesn't use that much RAM the VM also uses less from the physical pool. You can have more VMs running than you have RAM and the manager will juggle, but the VMs will be slower.

    3. Restoring to a VM requires that you have the correct drivers and configuration, the same as restoring to different hardware. You can convert your MR image to VHD.

    4. See disk expansion in 1 above.

    5. You can use the CD as a boot device but I prefer to mount ISO images direct - they are really fast in this mode.

    6. USB access is dedicated and cannot be shared, but you can dis/connect in real time. This is required to prevent corruption.

    7. Any of the free offerings are good. Use the one you like the look of.

    Notes
    When you create a VM you need to place the files in a folder. You should use the fastest disk you have for these files - mine all run from my SSD, which is also C: in Windows.
    Avoid external storage for VM working files, disks, ISO etc. They are OK for transfer, but most VMs allow host to VM transfer.
    You must have a CPU that has in-built virtualization for VMs to run well - some won't run without. What CPU do you have?

    cheers, Paul

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    5 Star Lounger petesmst's Avatar
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    Rather than run Macrium Reflect (or any other backup App) within the Virtual machine OS, I suggest you simply include the whole VM with your other system and/or file backups from within your main desktop.
    (My Setup: Custom built: 3,70GHz Intel Core i7-4820K CPU; MSI Military Class iii X79A-GD45 Plus Motherboard; Win 10 Pro (64 bit) - (UEFI-booted); 16GB RAM; 512GB SAMSUNG SD850 PRO SSD; 120GB SAMSUNG 840 SSD; Seagate 2TB Barracuda SATA6G HDD; GeForceGTX 980 4GB Graphics Card; Office 2013 Prof (32-bit); MS Project 2013 (32-bit); Acronis TI 2015 Premium, NIS 2016, VMWare Workstation12 Pro, etc). WD My Book 3 1TB USB External Backup Drive). Samsung 24" Curved HD Monitor.

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    Have a correction to make. With the beta version released (haven't tried 10.0.2 yet due to warning on their site), and with recent Win10 updates (even as late as yesterday afternoon), my system is finally stable with VB (including hibernate and sleep modes). Whoever fixed the issues, I salute you. Can now recommend VB for Win10 with caveate that you need to stick with stable beta version for now. Have to install the Guest additions separately too since the beta doesn't automatically install them. You download the ISO, then mount the ISO within your Virtualbox VM to install (pain I know, but not difficult).

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    Quote Originally Posted by petesmst View Post
    Rather than run Macrium Reflect (or any other backup App) within the Virtual machine OS, I suggest you simply include the whole VM with your other system and/or file backups from within your main desktop.
    thats a great idea. But my question should have been better phrased: I want to restore the image to the new VM - its an old xp version thats fully patched to xp eol. How do I do that i.e. will Macrium's restore disk see an VM [disk space]?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    1. The disk in a VM looks like a standard disk and can be partitioned / formatted / assigned any drive letter allowed by the OS. As FUN said, it's actually a file or files, so you can add space to the disk by adding additional file space from your physical disk in real time.

    2. The VM manager use the maximum RAM you have allocated as an upper limit. If the OS doesn't use that much RAM the VM also uses less from the physical pool. You can have more VMs running than you have RAM and the manager will juggle, but the VMs will be slower.

    3. Restoring to a VM requires that you have the correct drivers and configuration, the same as restoring to different hardware. You can convert your MR image to VHD.

    4. See disk expansion in 1 above.

    5. You can use the CD as a boot device but I prefer to mount ISO images direct - they are really fast in this mode.

    6. USB access is dedicated and cannot be shared, but you can dis/connect in real time. This is required to prevent corruption.

    7. Any of the free offerings are good. Use the one you like the look of.

    Notes
    When you create a VM you need to place the files in a folder. You should use the fastest disk you have for these files - mine all run from my SSD, which is also C: in Windows.
    Avoid external storage for VM working files, disks, ISO etc. They are OK for transfer, but most VMs allow host to VM transfer.
    You must have a CPU that has in-built virtualization for VMs to run well - some won't run without. What CPU do you have?

    cheers, Paul
    CPU is an Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core processor 3800+

    Also some clarification: in your note section, What files need to go into the folder? Files for what - the VM, the image, ?

  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmgoat View Post
    thats a great idea. But my question should have been better phrased: I want to restore the image to the new VM - its an old xp version thats fully patched to xp eol. How do I do that i.e. will Macrium's restore disk see an VM [disk space]?
    All ya gotta do is read my post again, only from within the VM can you restore an image, in other words the VM has to be established and running by other means first much like a hardware install needs to be present first before you can image it for the first time.

    Also for the next question, disk space is allocated for the VM by the VM shell software (either VB or VMWare Player) but to the host it just looks like a folder with a big file in it with various small supporting files that are created in the same folder by the VM shell when the VM is first run.

    Also I said there is some software that can do something similar to what you want to do with certain images, Acronis being one of those types of images but not MR images as far as I know. Also Paragon's Go Virtual will convert a hardware installation of XP to a virtual install but that XP would need a valid license you can also transfer to the VM install.

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    The Athlon X2 from 2006 have virtualization, but it may need to be turned on in the BIOS.

    When you create a VM you are asked where to store the config and VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) files. Choose a fast hard disk with enough space, e.g. if you create a 10GB hard disk and allocate 2GB RAM you need at least 12GB space on your hard disk.

    You don't need to restore the XP image to your VM, instead you can convert the image file to a VHD and use that as the C: in the VM - don't create a new VHD.

    cheers, Paul

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    Does anyone have a suggestion for something other than VirtualBox?

    Quote Originally Posted by wmgoat View Post
    2. I know I assign hardware resources to the VM. If I only have one VM booted at a time, can I assign 1/2 of my RAM to the host and 1/2 to the current VM, without impacting other VMs? I plan to only have one VM booted at a time, along with the host. Or is the VM manager smart enough to spread the demand for RAM across booted systems?
    When you create the virtual machine, you specify how much hard drive space and how much RAM you want to allocate to the virtual machine.

    Hard disk space is allocated as starting small and becoming larger as actually used up to the maximum size that you specify.

    RAM however is not managed by the hypervisor. If you allocate 2GB, then when you start the virtual machine, you must actually have 2GB available for the virtual machine, whether the virtual machine actually uses it or not. So if you have 2GB of RAM on your system, you cannot start a virtual machine with 2GB of RAM allocated to it. If you have 4GB of RAM, and your system is already using 3GB of RAM, you can't start a virtual machine with 2GB of RAM.

    If you have 8GB of RAM, and your system is using 3GB of RAM and you want to start a virtual machine with 2GB of RAM, you are fine. If you want to start 3 virtual machines with 2GB of RAM each, not so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by wmgoat View Post
    7. Does anyone have a suggestion for something [free/open source] other than VirtualBox? Why?
    VMware Player.

    Several times, I have been able to create virtual machines from .iso files with VMware Player, when I couldn't with VirtualBox.

    Also, I have created a V: partition for virtual machines, and it's easier to put them there with VMware Player.
    Last edited by Prescott; 2015-08-17 at 14:49.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prescott View Post

    Several times, I have been able to create virtual machines from .iso files with VMware Player, when I couldn't with VirtualBox.

    Also, I have created a V: partition for virtual machines, and it's easier to put them there with VMware Player.
    I've done that and a lot more with/for VMWare but the reason I chose it initially was for more powerful graphics emulation.

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    3 Star Lounger djohnson's Avatar
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    You can also create a Virtual Hard drive, which is a file. You can then install to it, and it will be in your boot menu when you start up. There are many sites which talk about this. But, the easiest way is to use Disk Manager to create a VHD, then use either dism, or imagex to install with a command prompt. You can then assign a boot item with EasyBCD to finish the installation. There are other ways to install also. Google, and you will know!

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    Admittedly, I began reading this thread & then scanned to the end. Ergo, these comments may not match up w/ the content exactly but, anyway...

    I have done quite a lot w/ virtualization over quite some time. Often used it whilst beta-testing a few OSs. I heartily recommend using Hyper-V in 8.1 & Windows 10. Of course, it works well w/in the OSs, although, not surprising as it comes in them. It is easy to use & does what's expected very obligingly. I have tried & used other 3rd Party virtualizing software and did not like them.

    Yes, User can create one or more OSs as VMs.

    As someone mentioned there is, also, the VHD route & those are two very different things (that & VMs in Hyper-V).

    VMs can be easily & quickly built. If wanting to get rid of one, 1 Clk & it's gone.

    Yes, one can take a Sys Image of a VM. Except for sacrificing some things (like web cams & mics & other USBs) VMs are very much like physical machines... they, still, connect to the Net, still, need security, still need a valid license and will still print to the same printer the Host uses.

    IF using Win7 then instead of Hyper-V one must install WVPC, to which can be added XP Mode.

    Again, I very much recommend WVPC & Hyper-V rather than the 3rd Party programs.

    I did up a complete tutorial for Hyper-V way back when in another IT Forum that doesn't exist anymore. Haven't checked if I put it elsewhere or not but, if anyone wants/needs instructions, please, just ask..

    Sorry if in the above I have missed addressing any queries there were. If so, just repeat them, please.

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