Installing Ubuntu 8.10 under Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Installing Ubuntu 8.10 under Virtual PC 2007 is the easiest version to install by far, if you have all your bits in the right place. First, you’ll need Virtual PC 2007, available from the Microsoft site. After you have installed VPC 2007, you will need to download and install Virtual PC 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1). I had problems until I installed VPC SP1.

Next you will need to setup a Virtual Machine to hold your Ubuntu. If you are not familiar with VPC, you can see either my step by step instructions or my instructional video. And finally you’ll of course need a copy of Ubuntu 8.10. You can either download an ISO from the Ubuntu website, which is what I did, or find it in some magazine.

OK, just so we’re on the same page, I created my VPC and named it “Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop”. I used that name for both the vmc and vhd files. I selected “Other” for my OS, adjusted the ram to 512 MB. Finally, I left my hard disk at the default of 16384, Launch the VPC and point your virtual CD Drive at either the ISO or the drive where your Ubuntu disk is.

Upon launching, the first thing you see is a screen asking your to select your language. Pick yours by highlighting it and pressing enter. (Note you can get full size images for any of these by clicking on the image.)

u810_01

Now you are at the default screen.

u810_02

Now you need to press F4, for Modes, and pick “Save graphics mode” and press Enter.

u810_03

You should now see “Try Ubuntu without any changes to your computer” already highlighted (as you can see two pictures above). Press enter to begin. During the launch the screen will go black, and stay that way for several minutes (about 4 on my system). Don’t freak out, this is normal. You may also see some garbled graphics, something like:

u810_04

Again, not a big deal, wait several minutes (was about 5 on my system) then the screen turned brown, lasted a few more minutes then came up to a login prompt that offered to auto login as “user” in 10 seconds. I did nothing, and just let it automatically log me in. OK, to be honest I was distracted watching the latest Tekzilla on my Zune piped over my TV and missed the screen, but the end result was the same, I got this screen:

u810_05

If you want, you can explore the Ubuntu environment for a few minutes. One reminder / hint, when you click inside the virtual machine, your mouse becomes “trapped”. To be able to drag the mouse outside the window, press the RIGHT ALT key. (The left won’t work!) Your mouse will escape to freedom.

OK, let’s say we’ve done some playing, or perhaps are single minded and are ready to install. Just double click the install icon. Note it took about 2 minutes on my slow machine for the install dialog to appear. When it did, here’s the screen I saw:

u810_06

Since my language is already selected, all I have to do is click Forward to go onto the next screen. On this screen, it asks me to pick a city near me so the time zone can be set. Chicago IL is in my time zone, so I’m going to pick it, you should of course pick one in your time zone. You can do so by clicking the map, but this is something of a pain, so I went with the faster route of picking my town from the drop down then clicking Forward.

u810_07

On the next screen we’re asked about keyboard layout. Select yours, or in my case it was already selected so all I had to do was hit Forward yet again.

u810_08

After hitting Forward, you’ll see a dialog appear briefly while Ubuntu looks at your disks while it determines the best way to partition them.

u810_09

You don’t have to do anything but be patient while this runs, on my system this was about 3 to 4 minutes. When it completed the step 4 appeared:

u810_10

Here we can adjust how to allocate disk space. Since this is all virtual, the simple thing to do is just accept the default and click Forward, which we will do. The disk will churn for a few minutes (in my case about 5) while it sets up the partition then present me with the next screen.

u810_11

You can see here it’s prompting me for information so it can setup my login name. Here I filled it out, and let it go with the default name to login with (my first name, arcane). I created a password, remember this as it’s also your admin password. Under name of the computer it defaults to your user name with a “-desktop” after it. I added the word virtual in the middle to make it clear.

Also note the “Log in automatically” check box. If you are the only person using this VPC, and you don’t plan to store anything sensitive you may want to check this on, but if you are in doubt leave it unchecked to maintain the best security. For myself, I’ll leave this unchecked.

OK, this last screen says we’re almost to the finish line.

u810_12

Just click “Install” to begin the install.

u810_13 

This dialog will keep you updated as it goes through it’s install. I did notice an odd quirk, when my mouse was escaped the install seemed to pause itself. If possible you may want to leave your focus inside the VPC. Don’t be alarmed if your screen goes black during the install. Just move your mouse around or hit some key. The blank screen is the Ubuntu screen saver kicking in! You’d think the installer would disable the screen saver, but it does not.

On my system, the total install time was just under an hour and a half. When it was complete, I saw this message appear:

u810_14

I picked Restart Now. Only it didn’t, screen went blank after a few minutes and eventually everything just stopped. I wound up doing an Action, Reset from the VPC menu. After that the boot process for my VPC was quite similar to the test environment we just did. I saw the screen go blank for about a minute and a half, then the Ubuntu logo appeared. Another delay while it churned, showed me some garbled graphics, but finally (about 4 minutes total) it fired up and worked fine. I was able to enter my login info and away I went.

u810_15

I want to stress the key to success was, I believe, in having the latest Virtual PC service pack installed, attempts to load prior to updating with the service pack all failed due to graphics errors.

The entire install process took about an hour and a half on my single core Vista computer with 2 gig of ram. I was creating the VPC on an external hard disk via firewire connection. Your install times will vary accordingly.

Installing Ubuntu 8.04 under Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Update: Nov. 10, 2008 – New blog post on installing Ubuntu 8.10 is now out: http://tinyurl.com/vpcubuntu810

I’m pleased to say that Ubuntu 8.04 is probably the easiest install I’ve had to do with VPC yet! One quick reminder before we begin, when working inside the VPC your mouse will get “trapped” or captured by the virtual computer. You won’t be able to move outside of it. To get it released, just press the RIGHT side ALT key. Left side won’t work, has to be the RIGHT side of your keyboard.

To start with, create a new Virtual PC. For a tutorial, see either my step by step tutorial or the video tutorial if you need more instructions. Since I had the space, I was using 768 meg of ram, and left the disk space at the default of 16 gig. If you can, try and use at least 512 meg of ram for good performance. Use the CD menu option to capture the desktop ISO you downloaded from Ubuntu, or if you have a real CD put it in the drive and capture that. When it launches, you’ll see this screen. (By the way, you can click on any of the screens to see the full size graphic, these have been resized slightly to fit in with most common browser sizes).

[image - Select Language]

Pick your language, I just took the default of English.

[image - Safe graphics mode]

Now press F4 to select an alternate starting mode. When it pops up, change to Safe graphics mode, as you see above, and press Enter. Now pick “Try Ubuntu…” (should already be selected) and press enter. Do NOT pick the Install Ubuntu option, I kept getting VPC errors when trying to install directly.

Additionally, don’t be alarmed if the screen goes black for a while, then you see some garbled graphics. This is perfectly normal, it is just passing through and will be OK when Ubuntu gets done doing it’s thing. It took me about 7 minutes to get from the previous screen to the next one.

[image - live environment]

After it boots you should be in the live session trial environment. Double click the Install icon to begin the install process.

[image - Installer welcome screen]

Screen 1 is just a welcome screen, although you can change your language here if you need to. Press Forward to continue.

[image - Installer Set Time Zone]

Next it wants to know where you are, at least time zone wise. I’m in the central time zone, but set yours appropriately and click Forward.

[image - Installer Pick your Keyboard]

Next you can specify your keyboard. Since I’m using a typical USA style keyboard, I just clicked Forward.

[image - Installer Prepare Disk Space]

Next it asks how you want your disk space partitioned. Since we’re in a virtual environment, it made the most sense to just take the defaults and click Forward.

Be aware, after clicking forward my mouse went into the “I’m busy” mode, and there was a delay while the disks were prepared. Mine went about five minutes. Don’t be alarmed, just wait a few minutes and you’ll then proceed to the next screen.

[image - Installer Who Are You]

On this screen, first supply your name; this will be used in documents and the like. The next text box is the important one – it is for your Ubuntu user name. By default it uses your first name, now is your chance to change it. I rather like mine so will accept it. Next you’ll need to key in a good password and confirm, and finally name the computer. When you are happy, click Forward.

Now is where you may get confused. In the screen above, you are on step 5 of 7. When you click forward, you are suddenly on step 7 of 7. I’m not sure what happened to step 6, I even ran the installer yet one more time just to make sure it was gone. Perhaps it was kidnapped by space aliens?

[image - Installer is Ready]

Apparently even without the missing step 6, the installer has everything it needs. Just click Install to begin the install process. Kick back and wait. Don’t be alarmed if the screen goes black during the process, it’s just the screen saver kicking in. Just click in the VPC and wiggle your mouse and your display will return. I had it kick in several times during the 45 (or so) minutes it took to get everything installed.

[image - Install complete time to reboot]

Eventually Ubuntu will complete it’s install, then give you the above message. On the Virtual PC menu click CD, then release the cd. Then click on the big Restart now button inside VPC.

This was the only real snag I hit in the whole install process, I waited a while and it never did restart on its own. I gave it about five minutes, then in the Virtual PC menu I clicked Action, Reset. I figured since it’s already installed, I wouldn’t lose anything, and I was right.

The boot process does take a few minutes; you’ll see some text then a black screen for about 90 seconds. Then it comes up to the big Ubuntu logo and the orange bar as it loads. You’ll see some garbled graphics for a few seconds, then the login screen finally appeared. I gave it my user id and password, and minutes later I was in Ubuntu.

One last piece of business, fixing the networking. First make sure the network card is mapped to a real network card in your computer. For more instructions on this, see my video, Virtual PC Advanced Settings. After that, click on the network icon in the upper right side of the toolbar, as you see below.

[image - Fix Networking]

Then just pick Wired Network. Once connected you’ll be free to visit your favorite websites!

[image - Ubuntu open for business]

I haven’t had much time to check out other features, or get the sound working so if anyone has a quick fix for that by all means leave a comment below.

Virtual PC 2007 Step by Step – The Advanced Settings Video

As I promised last week, here is the second video in the Virtual PC Step by Step series. This video covers some of the advanced settings available in Virtual PC, and explains what the ramifications are for changing each setting.

If you don’t wish to watch in the flash player, or want the best video quality, I would suggest downloading the 20 megabyte WMV file from this link:
http://arcanecode.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/vpcstepbystep02.wmv

This video is the second in the VPC series, you can find the first one on this post from last week.

I would appreciate some feedback, do you like the video format? Is it useful? I’m enjoying producing the videos, but I do find it takes considerably more time than a regular blog post. Let me know your thoughts in the comments area.

BarCamp Birmingham 2 Presentations

At last Saturday’s BarCamp Birmingham, I gave three presentations. The first was on Virtual PC 2007. For more info on it just look to my previous post, which has the first video on VPC. I’m currently working on the other videos in the series and should have them up this week.

My second presentation was “The Developer’s Experience”. As promised in the session, here’s the complete PDF of my slides: The Developer Experience. This has hyperlinks to all of the tools I presented.

My final presentation was on Full Text Searching on SQL Server 2005.  First, here is a PDF of the PowerPoint slides: Full Text Search Power Points

Next, most of the demos used SQL statements. This PDF file has all of the SQL plus some associated notes. Full Text Search Demo Scripts

Finally, I didn’t get to demo this at BarCamp due to time, but I do have a WPF project that demonstrated how to call a full text search query from a WPF Windows application. Annoyingly enough WordPress (who hosts my blog) won’t let me upload ZIP files, so I renamed the extension to pdf. After you download the file to your drive, remove the .pdf and put the zip extension back on, then it should expand all the source for you correctly. (Yes, I know, I really need to get a host server for binaries, one of these days I’ll get around to it, but for today…) Source for WPF Demo

See you at the next BarCamp!

Virtual PC 2007 Step by Step – The Video

Some time back I wrote a post titled Virtual PC Step By Step, which detailed the steps to setup a new machine in Virtual PC. Since we now have a new version (VPC 2007) I decided it was time to update the post. Only now I’ve done it in video form! Yes, Arcane Code is now producing videocasts for the web. This is the first in what I plan to be a series of video content.

Without further delay, here is the video in flash player:

Or you can download the 640×480 WMV version here (about 8.5 megabytes in size):
http://arcanecode.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/vpcstepbystep01.wmv

This is my first, so let me know how this works for you. Still working out various video editing settings, as well as the many options for WordPress. Your feedback will help to improve future productions.

Installing Ubuntu 8.04 Beta under Virtual PC 2007

Update: April 24, 2008 Today Ubuntu 8.04 was released, and it’s a much easier install. Ignore the directions below, and instead jump to my post for April 24th, 2008 – Installing Ubuntu 8.04 under Microsoft Virtual PC 2008.

Like a lot of folks I was interested in working with the latest Ubuntu. However, I had some real issues getting it installed under VPC. On the good news side the pesky mouse problem is gone, apparently the kernel got updated to fix the mouse bug that plagued us with 7.10.

A quick disclaimer, the instructions below were created using BETA software. As new betas trickle out, or the final version is released, some of the things here may or may not work for you.

I do have some bad news. Attempting to install the standard desktop version, when the install got 6% into the Partitioning phase the VPC either locked up, or crashed all together with an unrecoverable error. Now for the good news, I did find a way to get Ubuntu 8.04 Beta installed, but it took some work on the post install to get the display to work. Hang with me though and I’ll show you the steps.

First, you need the right bits. Go to the http://www.ubuntu.com/testing/hardy/beta website . Scroll past the download area and find a mirror that is appropriate to your area. I chose http://mirrors.easynews.com/linux/ubuntu-releases/8.04/ as I live in North America, but all of the pages look the same.

Once on the mirror site, scroll down past the Desktop area, down past the Server section, until you find the “Alternate install CD” area. That’s the one you want! I used the one for the PC Intel platform.

OK, fire up Virtual PC 2007 and create a new machine, I’ll assume you are familiar with VPC and won’t recreate those instructions here. Only note I’ll make is to make sure and pick ‘Other’ for the OS, and for memory you need at least 256 meg of ram for Ubuntu, 512 would be better. Of course if you have more, feel free to bump it up to 768 or even 1024. Since I had the available ram I used 768.

Boot the machine, and use the CD menu to mount the Alternate Install CD ISO that you had downloaded. After it boots you’ll see this screen:

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Just press Enter to continue to the next screen.

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Again, all we have to do is press Enter to continue.

clip_image003

Now select your native language. Since mine is English all I had to do is press Enter.

clip_image004

After picking my language, Ubuntu further wants to narrow in on where I live by asking about my country. I picked my country and pressed Enter.

clip_image005

Next Ubuntu wants to detect my keyboard. If you want you can go through the default of Yes, and walk through a series of screens where you press a letter on your keyboard, or tell it you don’t have that key. Frankly I found it much faster just to tell it what kind of keyboard I had, and picked No and pressed Enter.

clip_image006 

Now it’s asking what the origin country of my keyboard is, since mine is USA (the default) all I had to do is press Enter.

clip_image007 

Next I’m asked what keyboard type. If you want to use something different (I know a few fans of Dvorak) you can pick those, but since I’m using a standard keyboard, I just went with the default you see above and pressed Enter. A

After doing so, the installer went through a series of screens where it was doing a lot of scanning of my (virtual) system and installing various components. It took about 10 to 15 minutes to get to the next screen.

clip_image008 

Here we are asked to give our system a name as it will be known on the network. The default name is ubuntu, but I modified it to what you see above so it would be unique. I would advise you to do the same, in case you wind up running your VPC on a network with others. Once you name your system, tab to Continue and press Enter.

clip_image009 

On this screen you are asked what time zone you live in. I live in the great state of Alabama, which is in the Central time zone, select the time zone for your state and press Enter.

clip_image010 

Next we are asked about partitioning the drive. I just took the default that you see here and pressed Enter.

clip_image011 

Now Ubuntu wants to make sure we understand that it’s about to wipe out what’s on the drive. Since it’s just a virtual drive, that’s fine we can safely press Enter to continue without risking any damage to our host ‘real’ hard disk.

clip_image012 

Ubuntu wants to make sure we really understand it’s about to wipe the drive and create two partitions. It even makes the default No. Change the answer to Yes, and press Enter. At this point a rather long process begins, on my system it was around fifteen to twenty minutes. Your time may vary depending on your system speed and hard disk speeds.

clip_image013 

Now we are asked for our full name. I just entered my nick name here, but you can put your full name if you wish. This will not be your login, but just used as the initial default in e-mails and the like. Once you enter a name, tab down to Continue and press Enter.

clip_image014 

OK, now it is asking you what name you want to use for a login / user ID. Make sure you pick something good as you may be keying this often. By default the installer takes your first name and lower cases it. That’s fine for me, so I’ll just press Enter to continue.

clip_image015 

Next you are asked for a password. Enter a good password, tab down to Continue and press Enter. On the next screen, which I won’t bother to show you as it looks almost identical to this one, it asks us to retype the password. Do so, again tab down to Continue and press Enter to proceed to the next screen.

Ubuntu will do a short install, then show you this:

clip_image016 

Ubuntu wants to find out if you need to use a proxy server. If you do, enter it here. Most people do not, so all you have to do is tab down to Continue and press Enter.

One last question from Ubuntu, asking about the system clock:

clip_image017 

While it’s true many servers are set to UTC, most home machines are not, so I took the NO option and pressed Enter. On my system it took about an hour before I got to the next screen. It didn’t hang up through most of it until the very end. It stayed at 97% – Cleaning up… for quite a bit. But eventually it moved on to the next screen.

clip_image018 

OK, you may think this is the finish line, but not quite. We still have to edit two files before we can use the system, otherwise we wind up with garbled graphics. When you press Enter on the screen above to reboot, look very carefully at the screen during the reboot. When you see the line:

Grub Loading Please Wait…

Immediately press the ESC key, and you should see this menu.

clip_image019 

Change the menu to the second option and press e to edit the line. This will bring up the next screen.

clip_image020 

Move to 2nd line and press e to edit. At the end of the line, add a space then vga=791 . Press Enter to save the change, which returns you to the above screen. Now press b to boot. The system will work, the screen may even go black for a minute, but eventually you will bring you to the following display.

clip_image021 

Change option to root – drop to root shell prompt, tab to OK and press Enter. This will drop you to a command prompt.

clip_image022 

At the command prompt, type sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf and press Enter. This will bring up the nano editor, and let you edit the file that controls system settings.

Scroll down until you find the section titled Section “Screen” . At the bottom add the line DefaultDepth 16 as you see in this snapshot:

clip_image023 

I put spaces, not tabs between DefaultDepth and 16. Once done, press CTRL+O (that’s the letter O, not a zero) to writeOut the file, then CTRL+X to close the editor.

OK, one more file to edit. Now type in sudo nano /boot/grub/menu.lst as you see in this screen snippet, and press Enter.

clip_image024

Now scroll down to the very end of the file. What we are looking at is the menu that appears when you press the ESC key on the GRUB loader. We are going to modify the first item, which is the default, to boot in VGA 1024×768 16k color mode.

Find the first line that says kernel at the end of the file (see where my mouse is pointing in the screen capture below.

clip_image025

Hit the END key to go to the end of the line. The line ends with quiet nosplash. Remove those two words and replace them with vga=791 , as you see below.

clip_image026

Hit CTRL+O (that’s the letter O for writeOut) to save it, then CTRL+X to exit the nano program. When you are returned to the command prompt, type in sudo reboot and press Enter to reboot Ubuntu.

This time, don’t press anything at the grub menu, just let it load. What I found was during the boot you wind up with a black screen that lasts about one minute, but if you carefully observe you’ll notice your drive light flashing. It then returns to a text screen, and eventually you are presented with a pretty screen asking you to login.

clip_image027

Enter your user name and press Enter, then on the next screen type in your password and press Enter again. And after a minute or two of churning… TA-DA!

clip_image028

I’m still looking into things like networking and sound, but at least these instructions will get you up and running with the Beta.

As I said at the beginning, these instructions are based on BETA code. When the final version is released sometime this month things may or may not change. Feel free to post your experiences in the comments area, along with any tips you may have on getting up and going with things like networking and sound.

Differencing Disks in Virtual PC 2007

Yesterday I mentioned I was going to get SQL Server 2008 installed in a Virtual PC (VPC). Now, I could have setup a virtual machine from scratch, or copied an existing one. But there’s a better way: differencing disks. Differencing disks allow you to create a virtual machine, then use it as a base for new machines. Much like you would create a base class and then let new classes inherit from your base.

My first step was to create a brand new virtual PC. I chose Windows Server 2003, using the one from my MSDN license. I could also have gone with XP, or the advanced versions of Vista licenses you to install up to four virtual machines in addition to itself as the host. So I get my VPC setup with Windows Server 2003, and make sure all of the windows updates have been applied, service packs, etc. In addition, if there are any additional tools / utilities I’d like to have available for every machine I’ll be wanting create from it I’ll install those as well. I’m thinking of things like UltraEdit / Notepad++, IE7, AllSnap, etc. I finally conclude by shutting down the machine.

Exit Virtual PC, and go to the folder where your virtual PC’s reside. First delete the VMC file (the small one) of your Virtual PC. You won’t need it any more, as you’ll never open this VPC directly. If you did, you would break all the machines that inherit from it. Again, not unlike changing the signature of a base class.

Next, mark the VHD, the hard drive as Read Only. Again this is for your protection, to keep you from doing something accidental to the base. At this point we have our base machine created, and can now make new machines from it.

Launch Virtual PC again. Click on File, Virtual Disk Wizard. You are given a simple dialog that lets you know you’re in the Virtual Disk Wizard. Click Next to move along.

[Picture 1 - Welcome to Virtual Disk Wizard]

Next it asks if we want to create a new disk or edit an existing one. We’ll want to create a new one, so just click Next.

[Picture 2 - Create a new virtual disk]

Now it wants to know what kind of disk to create. We’re doing a hard disk, so just take the default of virtual hard disk and click next.

[Picture 3 - Disk Type]

Now it asks where you want to put your virtual hard disk. I keep mine on my D drive, and use a naming convention. I start with the OS, then the main software I am using. I then use either the word Working, to indicate it’s alright to launch and work in it, or Base, to show the vhd should only be used to inherit from and not be launched. In this case I will be using this as a working area for my SQL Server 2008 CTP6, so I used Working. You are free of course to name it whatever you want, use a name like “Hanselman is cool.vhd” if you like I just prefer something a bit more logical.

[Picture 4 - Disk Location]

OK, this is where you need to pay attention, as this is the first time you’ll need to change a default. Here you are asked what type of virtual hard drive to create. The default is dynamically expanding, and it’s what you’d want to use if you are installing an OS from scratch or are creating a second hard drive for your virtual machine. Fixed size would be used if you are creating a disk for something like a USB drive and want to make sure it won’t get too big. Again, this would be used when you need an empty drive.

In our case we want the third option, Differencing. What this does is tell the Virtual PC application to base the new hard drive on an existing one. From here on out, only the changes you make to the virtual drive will be recorded. This has a lot of benefits. First it saves you disk space, in that you can use the same base with multiple virtual machines. Second, it lets you install the base OS only once, and not have to keep recreating it over and over. Finally, you can create multiple generations of disks. For example, I could create a base of Windows 2003, then another base with Visual Studio added. I could then use that base to inherit from, and create two drives. One could be used with SQL Server 2008, the other with SQL Server 2005. In our case we’re keeping it simple, so pick Differencing and click next.

[Picture 5 - Hard Disk Options]

Next we need to pick the virtual hard drive we want to base our new machine on. In this case I am selecting my Windows Server 2003 core base, and clicking next.

[Picture 6 - Pick Base Hard Drive]

Next we are told it has all the info it needs. All we have to do is click Finish and we’ll have our new Virtual Hard Disk.

[Picture 7 - Complete Disk Creation]

Virtual PC thoughtfully tells us it was successful.

[Picture 8 - Confirmation Message]

OK, we have a new disk, but now we need to tell Virtual PC we want to use it. Back on the Virtual PC Console, Select File, New Virtual Machine Wizard OR click the New… button on the console. Virtual PC has a need to tell us what we just picked, so just click Next.

[Picture 9 - Create Machine Wizard]

This time we are creating a new virtual machine, which will be based on the virtual hard drive we just created, so take the default and click next.

[Picture 10 - Create a machine]

Next we need to give our machine a name. I usually give it the same name as the hard drive, except for the vmc extension. Name yours and click next.

[Picture 11 - Macine name and location]

Now it asks what OS we’ll be using. Note it has automatically detected that I’m using Windows Server 2003, so all I have to do is click next.

[Picture 12 - Confirm Operating System]

Now it asks what my default RAM size will be. I figure 256 MB is a bit small, since I have the ram I upped it to 768 MB. Set yours according to the free space you can spare and click next.

[Picture 13 - Select default amount of memory]

Now we’re asked if we want to use an existing disk or create a new one. Obviously we want to use the differencing one we just created, so click next.

[Picture 14 - Existing Disk or New Disk - We want existing]

Next it asks where our existing drive is, pick it out using the Browse… button or type it in.

[Picture 15 - Pick name of existing disk]

Let me call your attention to the Check Box, “Enable undo disks”. If you leave this unchecked, your virtual machine will behave like a normal computer. Any changes you make are applied and saved. If you check the undo option on, then during your session any changes are written to a temporary file. When you exit the VPC, you are asked if you want to save any changes you made. If you say yes, they will be permanently applied to the virtual machine. If you say no, they are discarded, lost forever. Undo disks are ideal for test situations where you want to run the same changes over and over but not save them. Testing software installs, for example, or in a classroom where you want the students to do labs but not save them.

While Undo Disks can be very helpful, in this situation I don’t really need them as I want to keep all my changes so I will leave this unchecked and click next.

[Picture 16 - Complete Machine Wizard]

OK, we’re at the finish line. All we have to do is click Finish to complete the creation of our new virtual machine.

Let me call your attention to the file sizes of our new machine. Take a look at them in explorer…

[Picture 17 - Explorer snapsho showing small size of vhd]

Note how tiny the vhd file is right now. That’s because it’s based on another drive, where all the OS bits are. As we open it and apply changes (such as installing SQL Server 2008) it will grow in size, but we’ll always be able to save the disk space of the OS as it’s coming from another file.

The down side to differencing disks is speed, because they are in multiple files the performance won’t be as great. Additionally you can’t update the base machine without breaking its descendants. However, differencing disks offer several advantages as well. They save you time, in that you can create a base OS once and use it over and over. As you can see above they can also save you disk space, in that the core OS only takes up space once on your drive and not over and over.

Consider Differencing Disks, and whether they might be appropriate to your development environment.

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