While doing maintenance on the Canada and Netherlands based factories, we have also taken the opportunity to gather some of the questions and answers we have received for the http://ranversvsvmfactory.codeplex.com/ initiative. A very special thanks to Paul, who was on his Snowboarding holiday, but still made a point of dialing in to assist, monitor and supply answers as well!j0444170

I for one LOVE this factory concept … I loaded 15 virtual machines, fully configured with OS, Office, SharePoint, Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio this weekend as part of the maintenance testing and spent less than 15 minutes doing actual work … most peeking whether VM setup is complete and starting the next.

So what questions bubbled up last week and this weekend?

  1. How do I use either the Canadian or the Netherlands factory?

    • The Canadian and Netherlands factories mentioned below are limited to Microsoft internal only. Zayd is working on a public, South-African, based factory.
    • When you select the ISO with the NL token you will use the Netherlands factory and the CA token points you to the Canadian factory. For example:
      • VSTSR-MDT-CA_LiteTouchPE_x64 goes to Canada
      • VSTSR-MDT-NL_LiteTouchPE_x64 goes to the Netherlands
  2. Why is here no factory in the US?

    • We are working on this ... watch the space.
  3. Can I use either factory from the US?

    • Yes, but you should use the one closest to you to minimise cross ocean latencies.
  4. I occasionally get a dialog popping up saying “cannot find ...”, i.e. Microsoft Project. What is this all about?

    • During periods of DNS problems ... and we had many this weekend ... the automated installation may experience network connectivity problems. Usually just clicking OK on the dialog, pointing at the same location, will do the trick. We are investigating this issue, but are hoping that the static IP address will resolve this problem as well.
  5. Is there anything I should do before starting a factory installation?

    • make sure that the VM can connect to your factory of choice (see Question 8);
    • make sure you have enough room available. Images tend to be around 25 GB in size;
    • expect to leave your computer connected for at least 2 hours, up to more than 8 hours, depending on the connection speed to the factory.
  6. If the installation fails, can I restart the automated install?

    • You can only restart the whole sequence, starting with the OS install. Continuing a failed install is currently not supported.
  7. Why are the 64-bit trial images not asking for the license key, similar to the 32-bit trial images?

    • We are dependent on publicly published trial media. The 32 bit images are based on the Windows 2008 trial media, which always prompts for a key. We cannot prevent this otherwise than by supplying a key, which defeats the trial mechanism. The 64 bit images are based on the Windows 2008 R2 trial media, which does not ask for a key during install.
  8. How do I troubleshoot connection problems when booting from the factory ISO?

    • Whenever the deployment wizard fails or is cancelled, you will be dropped to a command prompt. This command prompt allows you to do some basic troubleshooting.
    • Try to ping the factory (e.g. “ping VSTSR-MDT-CA”). If this does not work, the VM has no network connectivity to the factory. Check the VM network setup. Wired corpnet is advisable.

Thanks for the interest in this initiative and the candid feedback. Keep the questions rolling in!