VM Junkie

April 24, 2009

Virtualization in Windows 7: XP Mode

Filed under: hyper-v, microsoft, vdi, view, vmware — Justin Emerson @ 6:22 pm

Hopefully some of you have seen the exciting news about Microsoft’s “secret feature” in Windows 7 that’s been kept under wraps: built-in hosted virtualization of a Windows XP desktop. As an add-on feature in the Business-targeted versions of Windows 7, you can run a virtual applications in a virtual machine running Windows XP, but using seamless windows on your main desktop. This is similar to what VMware Fusion does with their “Unity” mode on Macs. This is a very interesting development, but not totally unsurprising. Running apps in a VM for compatibility is an old strategy, and it’s interesting to see Microsoft including this in their product. But what does it mean for VDI?

Once the various VDI vendors start supporting Windows 7 as a Virtual Desktop, how will XP Mode be supported? Paul’s article describes that the feature will require hardware virtualization assist technology, which could mean that it won’t work as a VM-in-a-VM…

But what if we took this a step further? Why couldn’t Microsoft (or for that matter, VMware) use this technology in a VDI solution to provide simultaneous desktops to a particular user? What if, when a user logs in, they are logged into two desktops at once, and when they launch applications, they appear on their delivered desktop? These desktops would both be hosted on the same hypervisor (ESX, Hyper-V, whatever) but delivered with one seamless desktop. And the interesting thing is, VMware could do this today with their technology by combining ESX for VM hosting and Fusion’s Unity code. And how much do you want to bet this will be a feature of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2?

Interesting times we live in!


April 21, 2009

vSphere Launch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Justin Emerson @ 10:30 am

So I watched the announcement live, as I’m sure many of you did, and I was actually very disappointed by the lack of any new information.

Almost everything that was talked about has already been demoed, announced, or leaked a long time ago. What I don’t get was – why all this buildup for an announcement where nothing new is announced? The software isn’t even available today! Half the slides were reused from VMworld 2008, which was six months ago.

Mike D has a great blog entry about some of the reasons to upgrade… but he says Upgrade NOW!!! (emphasis his). Sorry Mike, can’t upgrade right now because the software’s not available. Way to prance around with your gold CD to “Chariots of Fire” for software that’s still not shipping. And why at every single VMware event do they need a montage of a mixture of pablum and buzzwords from every partner out there? We get it, VMware’s got a huge partner community. Show a slide full of logos and move on.

Yes, I love VMware and I love vSphere. That’s why I have to give it such a hard time. I’ll try not to sound too much like Stu in the future. =)

April 14, 2009

How to kill a c-class blade

Filed under: Uncategorized — Justin Emerson @ 1:56 pm


So yesterday I decided to run firmware updates on a BL480c blade from HP that I was going to start using here in the lab. Four of five things needed updating, including the iLO processor.

Unfortunately, during the flash of iLO, something went wrong. I’m not really sure what, but the system never really came back… As soon as the flash failed, the fans in the blade chassis started running full bore, and the Onboard Administrator listed the system as having a failed management processor. So I powered it off and reseated it… And then it would never turn back on.

Word of warning – if you’re going to be flashing the iLO, do it from the dongle on the front of the blade, just to be safe. It just might save you a service call to HP and a motherboard replacement. Which, full disclosure, was done as of this morning with no fuss from HP.

April 7, 2009

Graphical help for VI Toolkit – Get-VITKHelp

Filed under: esx, microsoft, powershell, Uncategorized, vmware — Justin Emerson @ 3:25 pm

Just quickie here. The Microsoft ScriptCenter guys did something cool by providing a graphical help file for PowerShell along with a cool Get-GUIHelp function that let you jump straight to the help file from the command line. I modified their script (made it a lot shorter) and made it work with the VI Toolkit Reference Guide that’s provided with the Toolkit. If you are using the toolkit on an x64 machine, you may have to futz with the paths, but you should be able to figure it out:


Making a Thin Client on Fat Hardware: Part 3

Filed under: view, vmware — Justin Emerson @ 10:45 am

I wanted to add a bit to my previous posts about WinFLP – there are still a few more optimizations you can do to get it running a bit better.

Something a friend pointed out was – why does WinFLP have such a smaller disk footprint, but not a substantially smaller memory footprint? Will that’s because for some reason, Microsoft doesn’t turn off very many services for WinFLP. In fact, I’ve managed to get away with disabling all the following services in my WinFLP image with no impact on the View Client (as far as I can tell): (more…)

April 6, 2009

VMware ThinApp in 20 minutes

Filed under: thinapp, vmware — Justin Emerson @ 12:21 pm

The fantastic Eric Sloof has just posted a great couple of tutorials on how to use VMware ThinApp over at his blog. I highly recommend checking it out – I think ThinApp is one of the most important pieces of any VMware View deployment.

And like a true Dutchman, he’s got some great Trance music to get you movin’.

Also, I’ll be posting a brief Part 3 to my WinFLP entries hopefully in a day or so with some more WinFLP-specific optimizations.

April 1, 2009

Making a Thin Client on Fat Hardware: Part 2

Filed under: microsoft, vdi, view, vmware — Justin Emerson @ 6:24 pm

This is a continuation of my last blog post.

Feel free to take a look around WinFLP at this point if it’s your first time. You’ll notice that the Start Menu is a lot more spartan than a normal XP installation. This is good because that’s less junk we need to rip out. The other benefit is that the whole install in my case takes less than 700MB, and that’s including the page file!

Now that we have WinFLP installed, we need to do some basics. First, you should download and install Service Pack 3 for WinFLP. This is a different package from the standard XP SP3 one – if you try to run the wrong one it will say it’s for the wrong version. After SP3, install Windows Updates. I recommend not installing Internet Explorer 7, just because it will add to the size of your image and potentially consume more RAM. And remember, we won’t be running IE on this machine anyway once we’re done. I would also recommend turning on automatic updates, because you want these devices to be as unmanaged as possible, so letting them auto-update at 3AM will make your life easier.


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