[hemmerling] Making the Transition from VirtualPC to VirtualBox

Motivation

  • VirtualPC and VirtualServer are the standard free virtualisation technologies for W2k, WinXP, Vista and Win 7 hosts. I am using VirtualPC since 2004, creating many VirtualPC machines :-).
  • Now with Win8:
    • VirtualPC can't be installed on a Win8 host ( while it was an integreated product on Win7 hosts ).
    • The successor Hyper-V is just available for 64-bit Windows.
  • So on 32-bit Win8 systems, if you want to use virtualisation, you have to turn to another solution.
  • I decided to turn to VirtualBox, as it may load VirtualPC machines with dynamic file space allocation ( VirtualPC New Virtual Machine Wizard: “Virtual hard disk size” < “Maximum virtual hard disk size” ) without transformation :-). With VMware, you need to transform the VirtualPC file system, by the free “VMware vCenter Converter” :-(.

Definitions

  • Guest operating system - The operating system which is running on the virtualisation system ( i.e. in the simulator ).
  • Host operating system - The operating system which is running the virtualisation system ( i.e. the simulator ). This is the native operating system of the computer, when you turn it on.

Prerequisites

  • Remember, any other virtualisation will crash, if “Virtual Machine Additions” ( or “Extension Pack” ) of a different virtualisation are installed on the guest operating system.
    1. On a Windows host running VirtualPC, run the VirtualPC machine, login.
    2. After login, deinstall the “Virtual Machine Additions” by “Action / Install or Update Virtual Maschine Additions”.
    3. Reboot the VirtualPC and check, that no “Virtual Machine Additions” are installed: The mouse cursor is captured inside the VirtualPC windows. By pressing the “ALT-GR”, you may leave the window.

Installation

  1. Install the OpenSource Oracle VirtualBox and the OpenSource “Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack”.
  2. Call the Oracle VM VirtualBox manager “Oracle VM VirtualBox”.
    • Create a new VirtualBox by pressing the “New” button.
    • Name the new virtual machine, e.g. “vbx5_w2ks”.
    • Select the memory size, e.g. 1024 MB.
    • Select “Do not add a virtual hard drive”, press the button “continue” on the modal warning window.
    • Now at “C:\users\<username>\VirtualBox VMs”, there is a directory “vbx5_w2ks”.
  3. Copy your VirtualPC *vhd file into that directory, e.g. “vpc5_w2ks Hard Disk.vhd”.
  4. Call the Oracle VM VirtualBox manager “Oracle VM VirtualBox”.
    • Select “Settings / Storage”.
    • Mouse-rightclick at “Controller: IDE”.
    • Select “Add Hard Disk”, press the button “Coose existing disk”, select the VirtualPC *vhd file, e.g. “vpc5_w2ks Hard Disk.vhd”.
    • Press the button “Ok”.
  5. Installation and de-installation of devices:
    • Add a shared folder by “Settings / Shared Folders”, e.g. “C:\” → “C_DRIVE” with the option ”[x] Auto-mount”, for Windows guests.
    • For Win98SE guests, you must deselect USB by “Settings / USB”, ”[ ] Enable USB Controller” :-(.

Configuration for W2k Guests

  • Start a VirtualBox by “Start”.
  • After login at the guest operating system, you are captured in the VirtualBox window.
  • If “Found new hardware wizards” windows appears, always select “Cancel”.
  • If the window “System Settings Change. Do you want to restart your computer now?” appears, select “No”.
  • Use “Ctrl” to leave the VirtualBox window.
  • Execute “Devices / Install GuestAdditions...” to install the VirtualBox guest additions.
  • Change number of colors of the graphics card to “True Color (32 bit)”, by mouse-rightclick, “Properties / Setting / Colors”.
  • Change the drive letter of the CDROM drive to “Z:”, by “Start / Control Panel / Administrative Tools / Computer Management / Disk Management”, “CDRom 0” → “Change Drive Letter and Paths”.
  • Reboot the VirtualBox guest operating system.

Drawbacks

Location of VirtualBox Machines

  • With VirtualPC, you have the freedom to create VirtualPC machines at any place :-).
  • You just can install VirtualBox machines at ”/users/public/<username>/VirtualBox VMs/” :-(.

Creation of virtual Floppy-Disks

  • The “Virtual Disk Wizard” of VirtualPC may not just create harddisk images, but also Floppy-Disk images ( *.vfd, *.img, *ima, *.dsk ).
  • Problem: With VirtualBox, you can´t create Floppy-Disk images.
  • Solution:
    • On Windows ( W2k Server, WinXP..., Win8, but not W2k-Pro ): “fsutil file createnew myimage.vfd 1474560”.
    • On Linux: “fallocate -l 1474560 myimage.vfd”.
    • On Linux & other Unix-like systems: “head -c 1474560 /dev/zero > myimage.vfd”.

No Network Access

  • A VirtualPC is part of the Windows network, i.e. “Entire Network / Microsoft Windows Network / Workgroup / <VirtualPC>”. On that base, you may create shares, e.g. “Entire Network / Microsoft Windows Network / Workgroup / <Windows Host> / <Shared Host Folder>”.
  • A VirtualBox isn't part of the Windows network. You may create shares of folders of your local computer, e.g. “Entire Network / VirtualBox Shared Folders / <Shared Host Folder>”.

Concurrent Use of cloned File Systems is prevented

  • With VirtualPC, you can use copies of the VirtualPC filesystem *.vhd ( i.e. filesystems with the same UUID ) to serve with different VirtualPC accounts *.vmc on the same computer.
  • Problem: With VirtualBox, VirtualBox filesystems are registered. If you try to link a copy of a VirtualBox *.vhd filesystem with more than one VirtualBox account, you get an error message
    Failed to open the hard disk "C:\\..." {uuid..}\\
    Cannot register the hard disk "C:\\..." {uuid...} \\
    because a hard disk "C:\\..." with UUID {uuid...} \\
    already exists".
  • The only solution: Move the VirtualBox folder to another location and carefully remove the harddisk and the account which is not needed at once :-(.

Limited Support of Windows 9.x


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