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How do you do....it? Thread, Virtual PC for Visual Studio 2008 in Technical; Has anyone managed to create a Virtual PC running Windows XP (and secure it so that students can't take a ...
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    amyr's Avatar
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    Virtual PC for Visual Studio 2008

    Has anyone managed to create a Virtual PC running Windows XP (and secure it so that students can't take a copy of it) so that Students can run Visual Studio 2008 with full admin privileges as part of one of the Computing A Levels this year.

    We've tried Virtual PC 2007 and VMware player, just can't seem to get it locked down enough.

    Help! We need this for the start of term and are running out of ideas....

    Thanks,
    Amy

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    VMware server lets you stop and start VMs from the command line (so it would be easy to call it with a script). It might be possible to cook up something that lets them start up the VM and then access it via remote desktop. The only thing is VMware server doesn't have any shared drives support (although you could do this via remote desktop).

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    amyr's Avatar
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    thanks for that, however we need them to be able to save work to and from the virtual machine, and leave the machine in a 'clean' state so that multiple students can use the same image if that makes sense?

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    Theblacksheep's Avatar
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    Not much help to you now, more of a long term solution:

    We run a ESX3.5 box with a bunch of XPs VMs, these run ALAN test VMs (that are connected to another domain). We also run a bunch of VMs that are used by the Kids for stuff they cant do on ciric machines (change desktop, font etc etc) but these run with the disks in non-persistant mode (a reboot will reset it) and scheduled reboots every lesson change. The can be on a domain and have access to network shares.

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    Quote Originally Posted by amyr View Post
    thanks for that, however we need them to be able to save work to and from the virtual machine, and leave the machine in a 'clean' state so that multiple students can use the same image if that makes sense?
    If they're connecting to the VMs via remote desktop they can use 'connect local resources'.

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    amyr's Avatar
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    to be honest, I don't think my boss will let us go down the route of vmware server and remote desktop. I will explore it though and see what comes up from it. Any more ideas? Anyone actually succeeded in doing this for the students?

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    DrPerceptron's Avatar
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    OT Question: Why does VS2008 need Admin Rights? or why do these VPC's need admin rights? Raises a question since VS2008 is something we looked at once and may consider again...

    What about using VM's that aren't attached to the domain? shared drives etc can be mapped from a workgroup using domain accounts and VPC supports Undo Disks which would revert the VM back to its original state when shutdown/rebooted.

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    Yes.

    Sorry to be a tease, but I'm off out to a meeting in 2 minutes so will post more details when I get back.

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    Why does VS2008 need Admin Rights?
    In a nutshell: So you can Debug your code with the Debugger, which needs the all-powerful system seDebugPrivilege right.

    There may be lots of other little reasons because it's primarily for professional developers and most of them need local admin rights for lots of reasons associated with the process i.e. there's not a lot of incentive for MS to make it work in significantly restricted environments.

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    Are you trying to lock down the guest machine so that the students can't do any damage inside it or lock down the host?

    If it's the former then I'm not sure that you can - as piqueaboo says, you need pretty high level privileges to be able to debug code - but it may not matter; you can just put back a copy of the VM hard disc if someone messes it up (I'd guess only you know whether they're likely to deliberately mess things up or just do it by accident. If it's just an occasional accident then copying back the big virtual disc won't be a big deal. If it's routine badness then that's harder)

    You could put the vitual machine "master" in a read only folder on each machine with an icon saying "replace VM" - if users have a problem, they just shut down their virtual machine, double click the icon and less than 5 minutes later they're ready to go again.

    If you just want to stop students "stealing" the VM then don't bother :-) Sign up for MSDN Academic Alliance (Academic Alliance Home - Microsoft UK) and you can then just give XP, Visual Studio and lots more to your students. If you buy your software through Campus Agreement then I think MSDN AA is included in the cost - not sure about the schools agreement but even if you have to pay for it, it's not expensive and will save so much grief in terms of licensing!

    Alternatively, take a look at the prepared VHDs here - Try Visual Studio Team System 2008 - Virtual Machines - not sure if this has more than you need but this is intended for users to download and use freely.

  11. Thanks to srochford from:

    AngryTechnician (24th August 2009)

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    OK re-reading I had missed the poart about ensuring students can't nick a copy of the VHD. That's very difficult to prevent since they have to have read access to the VHD to run it. We didn't have that level of security.

    What we had was pretty much what's already been suggested; a VHD using differencing disks, and a shortcut available to students to delete the current differencing file, replacing it with a 'clean' one that I had taken a copy off immediately after creating the differencing disk. We found that automatically resetting is dangerous in case of a VPC crash, or the students closing it by accident (both of which happened), since the student would lose any work they had saved inside the VHD without a chance to retrieve it.

    I think srochford's suggestion of the pre-made VHD might well be your best solution.

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