VMWare all the way 

Tags: IT Pro, Virtualization

New Laptop, lots of horsepower

I bought a new laptop, but it's got about as much horsepower as my web server from 7 years ago.

Old Server

Dell Precision M4300 (laptop)



Win 2k Server

XP Pro

3 x 18 GB RAID 5 (36 GB available), ?? RPM

1 x 320 GB, 7200 RPM


The old server is still sitting in the box from colocation. I have never laid eyes on it. I bought as much disk space on the laptop as I could with the intent of running VM's.

VMWare is Free to get started

I've been using VMWare Workstation on a different laptop, but mostly as a server that hosts other servers which I then RDP into. I had planned on purchasing my own copy of Workstation, but then I found the free VMWare Server and Converter. I used converter a couple of times, and the built-in importer in Server. With these two utilities, I was able to port all of my existing VM's to the laptop.

One (two?) was a straight file copy, one was a conversion from Virtual PC and one was an import of an existing Windows 2000 machine with some old client apps on it. That old PC had been acting up a bit of late, plus keeping it turned on for the few times I needed it was wasting power. Now I have Office 97, VB 6.0 and Delphi 2 good to go without bailing on these clients or rebuilding a machine with ancient apps. I'm writing this post using Word 2007 on the new laptop host OS against a WSS server running in VMWare. And now a process that took over two minutes takes 16 seconds on my new screamer.

My old laptop is next. It runs VS 2005, Delphi 5, SQL Server Express and IIS 6.0 and a bunch of older apps and web apps. I may put IIS onto the new laptop, but I can avoid that for now. I've gotten it down to 25 GB from about 90 GB. Much of that is stuff that could have been archived, but I've got the room now, we'll go with it. I believe Converter can reduce the disk space allocated at a later time.

VMWare loses head

VMWare server lets one run in "Headless Mode". It has a console Windows app where you can run one or more VM's. You can close the console, and the server still runs. It looks like pausing a machine will quickly do that in a few seconds, and return all the resources back to the OS. However, the 1.4 GB of memory WSS machine takes five minutes or so to fully return. You can start using it before the full recovery, but it's a little slow. Also, when a new machine first starts up, the entire host OS can bog down. Other web sites explain this is due to a lot of page swapping at start up.

Other Cool Stuff

  • Virtual networks – I enabled two virtual Ethernet cards. One works with my existing router so that it is connected to the rest of the LAN. The other is a VMWare VPN running on the laptop itself so that the host OS can see the virtual machine.
  • Remote Desktop - I had already set up most of my computers with RDP, a superb tool. With the ability to see the server even when not plugged in, I can continue to use RDP to work on the server itself.
  • For the Win 2k machine which does not support RDP (maybe this could be installed…), I use the console which isn't bad after installing the VMWare Tools.
  • Snapsots – I used these with Workstation which allows branching and multiple snapshots of a server. VMWare server allows a single snapshot to which you can roll back after, say, an unwanted new software install.
Posted by AndyGett on 1-Jul-08
0 Comments  |  Trackback Url | Bookmark this post with: