Tag Archives: Virtualization

Prepare base Windows 2003 image using SysPrep

After installing Windows 2003 and required updates on your virtual machine, we now need to prepare it for easy duplication later. Now extract files from system preparation package, which we had previously downloaded. As we have installed Service Pack 2 for Windows 2003, so we will use only preparation package related to that.

SP-055 Now run “setupmgr.exe” from the extracted files. This is a setup wizard which will help you create your configuration set and answer file for automating your duplication process.

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Installing Windows 2003 on virtual machine

Previously we had created our first virtual machine, and then I showed you how we can configure it further for our likings. Now we need to install any guest operating system on this machine. As we have to create an environment where we can emulate a full intranet system, with its own domain controller, so we need to install any server operating system which can support these things.

I know currently Microsoft is planning to release Windows 2008 Server, but I could only get my hand to a Windows 2003 media for installation. I will use our first virtual machine as a base machine, and would create other machines from this, just by creating another copy out of it. That way we don’t have to install things on each machine.

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Configuring a virtual machine

Lastly we had created our first virtual machine. We had provided some configuration options while creating that machine. Mostly that would work for our purpose, but if someone want to tweak some configuration items, then this would help him do whatever he needs to change.

That machine is now listed on your virtual server main page. You can see this machines settings and configure it further, to do that, click on “Virtual Machines” > Configure > WIN2K3 menu item on the left sidebar.

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Creating a virtual machine

Some might wonder what a virtual machine is? It is an emulation of real world computer, which emulates complete hardware system, from process to network card, in a self-contained, isolated software environment. Virtual machine facilitates in running different operating system on a host system.

After installing Virtual Server, it’s time to create a new machine to play with. Open Virtual Sever Administration Website in your browser, you will see your server’s status screen, and list of recent events, which you can see below.

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Using Sysprep for virtual machine image duplication

Microsoft provides a system preparation tool, Sysprep, which helps in deploying Windows on multiple computers. It has many scenario usage, but we will be using it for duplicating our virtual machines images, so that we don’t have to install all things from scratch each time.

Microsoft TechNet has listed detailed requirements when this tool can be used for duplication purposes, and analyzing that I think our scenario fits in it perfectly. Our master and destination computers have compatible hardware, no extra drivers, and disk are exactly same.

How should we walk our walk for this work, lets list them down.

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Setting configuration and search paths

When I initially worked with Virtual Server, I used default configuration. That caused me some trouble, as I started creating new virtual machines, my system drive started loosing space. I had to move all those virtual machines and their virtual disks manually to another location to release some space. Then I had to add those machines again, after doing what I should had done earlier.

You can avoid this problem by settings these paths after installing Virtual Server. There are two paths associated with Virtual Server.

Virtual Machine configuration folder: this is where virtual machine configuration files, virtual hard disks, undo disks would be stored for each virtual machines.

Search paths: These are additional paths, where you can look for existing virtual machines, virtual hard disks, undo disks, any ISO image files (.iso) that you can use later on.

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Installing Virtual Server

Considering how I wanted to approach my SharePoint exploration, I had to install Microsoft Virtual Server on my machine. That way I would be able to emulate a true intranet environment, in which I would have a domain controller, and other required resources.

Another reason I had in mind was that, I could save images of these machines at different stages, and then can experiment with different configurations, saving some of my time to redo all those installation again.

I am using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, which is the latest at the moment. I have Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 installed on my physical machine, with a lot of RAM, and disk space. One more thing I must check, do I have installed IIS (Internet Information Services), yes I do. I have IIS 5.x with me, and it should be there, because Virtual Server presents web interface for its administration.

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