Simon’s Backup Weblog

Useful Windows Vista Beta 1 and Virtual PC tip…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 29, 2005

If you’re installing Windows Vista Beta 1 onto a Virtual PC image, you’ll find that it won’t install onto a dynamic disk. Don’t worry – there is a way around this problem, so you don’t have to dedicated gigabytes of disk space to an image.

First make sure that you’re running Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1, and you’ve burnt the ISO to a DVD. For some reason Virtual PC won’t recognise the ISO as a usable image, but works just fine with a DVD…

The default VPC 2004 settings work well – however, you’ll need to create a fixed sized virtual disk so the installer can, err, format it first. Dynamic disks are visible in the Windows Vista installer, but the set-up application is unable to initialise the disk. Fixed sized disks are no problem, and can be partitioned and formatted with no problems, leaving the OS to install happily. The default VPC “video card” isn’t particularly good, so you will need to install the VPC 2004 Virtual Machine Additions. Don’t worry about this – they work just fine in Windows Vista, as it’s compatible with most Windows XP drivers and devices, and once installed give you a decent display and host machine integration for file transfers.

Once you’ve installed the OS, you can convert the fixed virtual disk into a dynamic disk. Shut down your virtual machine fully, then use the Virtual Disk Wizard to convert your fixed size disk into a dynamic device. First make sure you use a different name for your dynamic disk, just in case the copy and conversion fails. After all, you don’t want to reinstall the OS all over again. The conversion process won’t take too long. From the VPC 2004 console switch the disk image to your new image, and then restart.

Smaller dynamic images mean that you can easily build up a library of test images in different states – without filling your hard disk. It will also make it easier to move them from machine to machine. A dynamic disk that looks like 16GB to the client OS can be around 3GB…


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