Virtual Mania Part 2

Been thinking about Virtual Machines in generic and specific implementations.I think DebbieToo (a Debian 4.

Been thinking about Virtual Machines in generic and specific implementations.

I think DebbieToo (a Debian 4.0 Home Server) is going to get a “make-over”. She's been outstandingly reliable. Always boots up when I have to turn her off for some reason. Malware free without any special anti-virus programs.

Why screw with success?

Because there are some applications I'd like to add to her and I don't trust them completely. One is Windows XP Pro SP3. Another is Win 7 beta. I'm convinced that the best way to run Windows is in a VM. Put all of your data files or downloads on an external drive or a served drive somewhere else, like on a Linux server. Something craters or you get torched by a viral attack, delete the VM and copy the backup clone you have and start it in a new VM. Hard drive space is incredibly cheap now. Sort of the ultimate software firewall. Nothing still beats disconnecting the Cat5 though this comes close.

Like misters Watson and Meyer, I have been looking at VMs lately both at work and here at home. At home I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to use it but it looked enticing. It generated an itch that I couldn't locate. At work I found it extremely useful though I was disappointed with the VMWare Workstation performance in Vista, in Windows XP Pro it definitely shines. What clinched it was my personal discovery that “shared folders” both in VMWare and VirtualBox from Sun offered the potential way to share files without dealing with logons through Samba 3. This allows a server the capability to look like a Windows box or a Linux box without too much fuss and NO direct User access to the underlying host whatever it is.

For work I eventually came up with a compromise. I put the VMWare back on the XP Pro system with 2 monitors where it worked very well. Then I left the (expletive deleted) MS Office 2007 on the Visaster box now only sporting one monitor. Plug mouses in both systems. Run the VMWare window on the second monitor, a mouse click or two handles grabbing and saving screen captures. Make a shared folder on the Visaster box I can write to from the XP Pro system and that takes care of the documentation screen capture issue.

Another option at home is to go fully into Linux server mentality. Load a instance of Ubuntu server onto a drive, put Sun's VirtualBox on it and add VMs as needed. Because running Win XP Pro and Win7 simultaneously eats up too much RAM, its unlikely I'll be running more than one of them at a time on the server system any way. Linux seems to be a lot more useful with smaller RAM requirements.

Check List

First step is to clone all the system drives involved (multiple computers). Verify that the clones all are bit for bit good clones. Remove the floppy drive in the target system for the host. Haven't used it in 5 years at least. Prep a new drive for Ubuntu server and install it. Install the Ubuntu (Debian) Virtual Box applications. Create and verify the VM “envelopes”. Drop into the VM's OS images from the cloned images. Allow stored ISOs to be accessible and mounted from the VMs. Set NLS file shares and permissions. Setup shared folders with the VMs and verify permissions. Setup the DVD-/+RW drive and the DVD ROM drive on the target system as drives in the VMs. Make changes in the Apache server and Samba 3 setups in the VM that will be operating as Debbietoo. Turn on NAT services in Virtual Box and the host server. Set logon permissions in all the VMs and what needs to be done in the host. Setup folder redirection for Windows clients, Links for Linux clients. Modify the scripts for Debbietoo's Windows clients and attach them to shortcut icons.* Test everything and fix the things I screwed up. Clone the VMs. Save copies somewhere else but on the system drive. Clone the target system drive.

I don't know what I may have left out of that list but I'm sure there's something missing. End result is I get another computer that previously was running Debbietoo that is as fast as the new Debbietoo system. Also the VM host becomes a system that can serve as a backup system for the entire household network.

* (Since I'm presently the only Linux client: “I don't need no stinking logon script.” via “Blazing Saddles” from “The Wild Bunch” !)

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