Windows7 installs fast.

I downloaded Windows7 as part of my technet plus subscription and got a few minutes to try the installation whilst listening to the Hyper-V deep dive training session this evening. The time taken to install from my iso image to  a running installation was 31 minutes – thats VERY good going.

The client not surprisingly uses ie8 which was a bit of a pain for me. I use SGP for my online password management and that relies on the links bar within the browser. Now called the Favorites bar, for some reason this would not allow me to save the SGP bookmarklet in the bar – instead I had to add it to my favourites and then drag it into the bar afterwards.

It is too soon to make any more comments on it at the moment as it is time for bed, but so far it looks nice.

The one big plus is that Microsoft have FINALLY got the time zone problem fixed. Now they actually remember the timezone preference set during the installation and keep it afterwards rather than setting it to GMT-8 which theyhave been doing ever since Windows95!

I am getting some quirky things going on with my keyboard missing some characters, but I’m not sure if that is due to my bluetooth keyboard, ie8 or the fact I’m running in a hyper-v client where the parent server has been up for several days now.

Hyper-V has been released.

If you can’t wait 12 days for it to be released on Windows update, and lets face it, if you are running Windows 2008 you are likely to be an early adopter and keen to get your hands on the final product – you can download it from the Microsoft’s Hyper-v download page. I’d also recommend reading the description of Hyper-V release version- kb950050

When I installed it I shut down all my virtual machines and then ran the install program. You will need to reboot your host windows2008 server. Upon reboot your saved states will have been removed (this is in the readme). When the virtual machines are fired up they will be running the RTM version. Windows will detect new hardware, and as before you just cancel this routine and then go to Action, Insert Integration Services Setup Disk, let the installation proceed and then reboot the virtual machine (again). After this reboot the screen gets reset to 640*480 so this needs to be reset again.

One of the nice things for me is the support of XPsp2 as a guest OS. Previously this worked but there wasn’t an integration service disk available which meant that the keyboard/mouse integration wasn’t as good and I had to keep pressing ctrl alt and the left arrow to release the mouse which gets a pain as it didn’t work on my synergy kvm (I had to use the real keyboard).

The xp upgrade was a bit harder for me. I’d recommend copying the Integration disk to the desktop and then capturing your xpcd – I didn’t and had several disk swaps required – I had to unblock add/remove programs (I’m not sure why it was blocked – but delete HKLM \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Policies \Uninstall \NoAddRemovePrograms fixed that. I was then able to remove the virtual machine additions and reboot.Then I had to upgrade the HAL which meant putting the xp disk in the drive and rebooting, then inserting the Integration Services disk (switching back to xp disk mid way for hidusb.sys for the mouse) and then a final reboot. 


Phew – after all that I’m up and running with Hyper-V RTM, 1 client XPsp2, 1 W2k3 DC and 1 w2k3 SSE server.  My next project is probably going to be Windows Deployment Services

Teched hands on lab – behind the scenes.

A 3 or 4 minute video on the infrastructure behind the 900 machines used to build the hands on labs at TechEd. It was interesting to see that most of the main servers were all virtual servers and that the virtual images stored on the lab pc’s themselves were deployed using Ghost but the actual OS of the desktop was deployed using Windows Deployment Services (WDS). I’ve never been to TechEd but hope to go one day but it makes me wonder what they used to do before virtual machines existed?

System Center Essentials finally installed.

I finally managed to get the System Center Essentials VHD working on my windows2008 server this evening. I tried to install it two nights ago but after the installation process got to the Reporting services, it would then remove everything again. Looking through the log files (%temp%\scesetup0.log) I found the error “current security context is not associated with an active directory domain or forest” which didn’t help one iota. The server was part of the domain, I was successfully logged in and therefore this shouldn’t have been a problem. There was very little information about this in google searches, most of them pointing to .net programming issues.
Trying to reinstall the software would give me different results – one time telling me that I needed to install the xml6 software and another time telling me that the installation had completed successfully but the log files disagreed!
In the end I deleted the vhd file, extracted it again and did the following.
Created a new machine in Hyper-V. Pointing to the extracted vhd, 1gb memory, nic on the external network, everything else was defaults (apart from the file locations).
Start the virtual machine. Log in and remove the virtual machine additions. Reboot.
Cancel the new hardware has been detected, approve the new Hal detection, reboot.
Log in, install Integration services, reboot.
Run Windows Updates (until no more updates found) and update everything (apart from remote desktop 6 client, silverlight) reboot. Make sure that all the service packs for the .net frameworks are installed.
Change the ip address of the dns server to be my existing domain controller, join the domain, reboot.
Take a snapshot of the virtual machine so I can roll back if required.
Run setup program, wait, wait and wait some more – success!
I’m prettty sure that the issue was due to not updating the .net frameworks and then trying to install the software. The first installation left remnants behind that then confused subsequent installation attempts.
Update Now I find that there is a System Center Essentials 2007 sp1 eval software that would probably have been better (although this is just SCE not a vhd). There is also a upgrade to SSCsp1 but I think this only works on retail or licenced versions – not eval ones (I’ll find out tomorrow as it’s too late to start on this now).
Update2 The upgrade to SSCsp1 does work and is a smaller download.

Hyper-V Release candidate 0

I upgraded to the latest version of Hyper-V this evening but none of the VM’s would start. This is because the new version is unable to read the old machine configuration files (nice integration there!). The trick is to delete the machines and then create new ones pointing to the old vhd files that do not get deleted. The only thing is that an xp sp2 machine will not be able to use the integrated services disk for it’s network adapter as the integrated service is xpsp3, vista or w2k3/8 only. Instead you have to delete the network adapter and create a legacy network adapter. At that point you could download sp3 (if you don’t already have it) and then use the integration cd or just carry on without the integrated services.
I didn’t bother with the sp3 upgrade (yet) and the machine had a problem with the vga controller and an “unknown” device. The VGA works after XP boots up, detects it is running at a low resolution and offers to change it to 800*600 which is acceptable for the testing I am doing in a lab environment in preparation for the next exam. The unknown device didn’t seem to be causing any problems so I’m not worrying about it for the moment.
The Windows 2003 server needed the integration cd inserted and offered to upgrade my previous components and then worked well with all the components being recognised.

Mounting cd images in Windows 2008

I downloaded an evaluation copy of Windows2003 for my MCSE training tonight from Microsoft. The cd image is in an img file that of course can not be read by Hyper-V! Now I could burn the file to a cd and then capture the image within Hyper-V but that was too much work and I’d have to hunt for a blank cd. I knew that VirtualCloneDrive wouldn’t work in Windows2008 as I had already tried this for something else earlier on, but I did find MagicISO – a package I had also used on XP – it said it would work on 64Vista and as Windows2008 seems to have a lot of similarities with Vista I thought I’d give it a go….I ran the install of MagicISO and then mounted the img file with it and explorer recognised the drive. I closed down the Hyper-V console, re-opened it and was able to capture my new drive for my new Windows 2003 installation. It’s working very well – highly recommended.
Hopefully this will come in handy for others as I couldn’t find any useful information on mounting a virtual iso img or cd image in Windows 2008