23 April 2008

VMWare Snapshot inspirations

I received the following tips on the usage of VMWare Snapshots from fellow SharePoint MVP, Dan Holme. I thought it might be helpful to others…
      Firstly, keep in mind that SYSPREP does MORE than just “new sid”.  If you’re in a super-simple environment (i.e. 2-machine lab), newsid.exe is fine. In production you must also be taking care of other ‘unique identifiers’ such as WSUS client id, for example.  Be wary of using newsid.exe.  What I do on my VMs is bake a SYSPREP.INF script into the system, where all configuration is set except for anything I *want* to configure e.g. machine name.  I run sysprep, shut down, and snapshot.  The first time I return to THAT (sysprepped) snapshot, sysprep runs unattended and life is great. I then snapshot the “new” system (with name and uniqueness) as a ‘fresh’ capture of that machine.
Here’s some inspiration for newbies to snapshots:
This was my WS2008 RC0 system that I had set up for sessions at Windows Connections in Vegas last November.  You can see where I turn the server (sysprepped) into a DC then a separate snapshot with all the sample accounts (I use MS’s sample accounts for MS content and my own ‘fun’ names for Connections).
This is my standard Vista VM… you can see the two snapshots that “match up” with the above (to answer someone’s comment about working with multiple machines)
Note contoso.com RC0/Office 2007 snapshot matches with “with clients” snapshot on WS2008 RC0 system
Note WSS START (paused/already started) snapshot matches with “WSS Baseline” snapshot on WS2008 RC0 system
And this WS2003 VM branch is used to spawn DCs for clients as well as dev/testing/demo for an application we built called MyGroups.  You can see how I’m leveraging the “Sysprepped” snapshot here.

Linked clones

Another great feature of VMware is LINKED CLONES.  The “Sysprepped” snapshot above has linked clones, which use the same “baseline” disk then create what VPC calls “differencing disks” (except VMware does it much more easily!).  The joy of linked clones is that you can be running them both / all at the *same time*, so you can have 2+ servers running, for example, off of the “Sysprepped” base, with only one instance of the ‘giant’ baseline disk for Windows.

Important tips

Running Server (or Vista) in VMware, always
  1. Set the mouse theme to None (turn off Aero)
  2. Turn off mouse shadow
  3. Install VMware tools for better drivers
  4. Turn hw acceleration in the guest OS display properties to full-on. 
Note that sysprep ‘resets’ the mouse and video drivers to ‘basic’, so you can either
  1. Reinstall VMware tools after sysprepping or
  2. go into device manager and update the driver (choose ‘pick manually’ and pick VMware’s drivers from the list).


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