Virtual Machines Rock...

Virtual Machines Rock...

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In case that wasn't obvious!  So why is Ben saying this today?  Well I have been setting up a personal domain environment for playing around in - and to be honest it is getting quite complex.  By now I have a domain controller, a file server, an iSCSI server, a SQL server (with SQL reporting), a MOM 2005 server and two desktop virtual machines.

Now if that wasn't good enough - all of these virtual machines are stored on my USB 2.0 disk and I have been able to move the entire environment between work and home. Even better than that - I have put the virtual network file (.VNC) on the USB disk as well and configured my home and work computers with loopback adapters configured the same way - so there is no reconfiguration.  I just shutdown the virtual machines, take my USB disk home, and start the virtual machines up again where I was.



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  • Gosh that's some setup, I have slowly been trying to build something similar, have you got any tips?
  • What's the loopback adaptor for?  I'd like a sandbox network like this too..  Didn't think you'd need a loopback for a Virtual Network though.
  • i once had a pretty neat virtual network, that you might find interesting to hear about.

    first, i had a 4 interface vm, running linux, that acted soley as a router.  one interface was on my lan, and the other 3 were each on their own seperate subnets.  each of these 3 subnets each had their own network .vnc file.  all the other networks were reachable by putting a static route on my LANs router, so it wasnt necessary to visit each of my real computers and add static routes.  then, each interface on ther router, had a new network behind it.  each network, had a firewall computer, which i use the bsd-based pfsense.  each pfsense box was my ingress/egress for each network site.

    so here, is the painful part of my little experiment.  the first site, had 2 NT4 domain controllers, an NT4 SQL6.5 server, and an NT4  SMS 2.0 server, and NT4 Exchange 5.5 server, 2 NT4 file servers, 1 NT4 workstation and 1 Win98 workstation.

    second site, just had 2 NT4 domain controllers, and a NT4 file server, as well as 1 NT4 workstation and 1 win98 workstation.  

    site 1 and site 2, had a vpn between my pfsense firewalls, and soon i was playing out some NT4 trusted domain scenarios, and was delivering all my spam emails on my production domain over to my exchange 5.5 server (needed somthing streaming in on a regular basis!).

    site 3, did not participate in the vpn, but it was full of various linux distrobutions a the time, but they generally would not run at the same time as my other NT4 domains.

    so really, i had gone back in time with my NT4 experiment, to setup and re-master old techniques that i didnt really had a good handle on when i was a green net-admin.  replicating DNS and WINS was working nicely, emails were flowing, and i ever set up the original exchange email client on my workstation, which i think i was using the SMS2.0 to deploy it with.  also did some office 95 deployments via SMS too.

    THEN... the simulated year of 2000 comes around... so yep, time to start the migration.  i think the proper method was to upgrade the BDCs first, and then the PDCs.  one by one, some were upgraded, some were parallel deployed onto othe VMs and migrated, but eventually i had the whole thing upgraded to windows 2000 (and SQL 7.0, exchange 2000, etc etc).  i was eventually going to migrate them all again to XP/2003, but it never happened.  :)

    (all running from my dual xeon 2.66 with 3GB ram)
  • Ben,

    Are you running your iSCSI server with Storage Server 2003 R2? Or are you using some other (presumably software) iSCSI target?

  • Very interested in your iSCSI configuration.  Can you explain more of what your goals were/are, and what implemented?

    Started looking at StringBean Wintarget, but you guys went and took them off the market by buying them up.  Sure, Storage Server will be nice with an iSCSI target, but it would be better if it wasn't an OEM-only product.

    Now it looks like only Starwind is left as an affordable iSCSI windows target.  There are a few others, but they are very expensive.

    Almost pushes us to use a Linux back-end box just for iSCSI.  Anyone else doing that and finding it working well?
  • > What's the loopback adaptor for?

    Allows the host to communicate to the guests through the VM network rather than through the host's physicial network (assuming the guests are on that as well --- useful when the second Tuesday in the month comes around).
  • Ben, can you give us more info on the way you have set up this VM network? Sounds great!
  • Add the Microsoft Loopback Adapter to the host box. Give it a static IP, do not give it a default gateway. Giving it a gateway will slow down normal internet/intranet access on the host.
    The static IP will be a different subnet than your LAN has. Use this controller in your VPC. I've set my VPCs with static IP's. I only have two, so it was easier than setting up a DHCP.

    This type of setup allows the VPC's to use the host loopback adapter as a hub to have services back and forth between them. The host is also able to access those services.

    Unless you put additional nics into the VPC's, or setup Internet Connection sharing, you will not have internet access in the VPC's. I've not needed it in my scenario and have not set this up yet.
  • You know, I just thought of something this weekend while setting up (yet again) my dev environment at home after a less then sucessfull Vista experiment... :-)   Why not create my dev environment in a Virtual image and have that everywhere I go?  Then all I really need to travel around with is a USB drive and a copy of Virtual PC.  All my favorites, dev tools, office and everything else I'm used to wherever I go and I don't need to spend a week tweaking out a new machine.  Then also throw in a reference "new machine" image that I can copy to sandbox my app with.  Any reason that won't be awsome?
  • Tracy thanks. Were setting up a VM network for demos right now and this is indeed nice to know.
  • Can you speak more to the iSCSI setup? I'm curious what's going on in that VM.
  • just would like to ask,

    is it possible for me to develop assembly language applications in Virtual PC??? :)
  • I have you are licensed for all that ;)
  • Licensing?  That's what an Action Pack is good for.  Or a Technet subscription.  I have both and have enough licenses to sim my entire work network in a sandbox if I wanted to.  An Action Pack is dead-cheap and a the only requirement is a free signup to being a MS partner.
  • Hi All,

    Sorry for the delayed response - I have just got back from a short holiday.

    Gurbhajan -

    Best advice I have is "install Windows once, Sysprep it and then copy it for each new VM"

    Rob -

    Since I have a DC, DNS, etc...  I do not want to connect to the physical network, but I do want to be able to network with the host.

    John / Robert -

    I am using a copy of StringBean WinTarget :-)

    Rob -

    Dev environment in a VM works well - if you have enough memory / CPU.  I have a Vista + Visual Studio 2005 VM that I have used quite happily for UI development

    trace -

    Yes you can (and yes I have)

    Morgan -

    Yup - I have MSDN licensing.

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