Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Alas, no booting to a .VHD for me

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about attaching a virtual drive to a computer in Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server R2. It would be nice to have the ability to boot directly into a virtual server. But I’m not seeing a way I can achieve it, at least right now.

My hardware would be my current laptop, an HP Pavilion TX 2000 (I wanted the tablet capabilities) running a 64 bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate. It has 2 CPUs, 4 GB of RAM and a 250 GB hard drive, certainly enough to run one virtual machine. I wanted to run a virtual 64 bit Windows 2008 Server R2 as my BI sandbox. Unfortunately, neither Virtual Server or Virtual PC support running 64 bit guests, only 32 bit. So I built my VM using VMWare’s Workstation. But those virtual disks can’t be mounted.

So I created another VM, this time a 32 bit version of Windows 2008. I created a fixed disk, installed the OS, and followed the directions on Charlie Calvert's blog. Mounting the .vhd file was simple, as was using bcdboot. When I rebooted both servers showed in the boot launcher. Everything good to go, right?

Wrong. When I tried to boot into the .vhd, I'd get an error message that the computer was not correct because of hardware changes. And the computer manager no longer showed the .vhd drive as mounted. That’s when I went back and reread the fine print.

Windows 7 only supports mounting Windows 7 or Windows 2008 Server R2. My VM was only 2008. At this point my options are to restore my VMWare VM (backed up luckily) or to try to install R2 directly into a vhd. But I don’t think that will work, either; it wouldn’t be compatible with Virtual PC.

Well, VMWare Workstation is still a great option. It’s just disappointing I haven’t figured out a way to do this yet.  

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