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Windows Thread, VirtualPC 2007 - Load vm from network? in Technical; Im currently making a vm for use in our ict lessons. It will let kids mess with windows without actually ...
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    craigg's Avatar
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    VirtualPC 2007 - Load vm from network?

    Im currently making a vm for use in our ict lessons. It will let kids mess with windows without actually messing up our network.

    I've got it locked down pretty nicely BUT i cant seem to get it to see the actual VM file which is located on the network...

    Would i have to map a drive or should it work with a UNC path?

    Also how would i go about setting this on a wider scale?

    Thanks

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    SC-UK's Avatar
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    I think you need to map a drive for this to work. Does Virtual PC work in the same way as other virtualisation products i.e. do you have a machine file and a separate virtual hard disk file?

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    craigg's Avatar
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    Mapping a drive didn't work mate...


    It just doesn't seem to hold the location for a new user.

    Cant seem to find anything in registry or any config files. :-(

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    Hello

    I am not sure I understand what you're trying to do . . . are you storing the virtual machine VHD file on the network, and trying to run them from there?

    While I've not tried this myself, I'd imagine that the performance would be horrendous.

    How do you mean, 'wider scale'?

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Right,

    Running a VM from a network location can decrease performance unless you have it on a highend SAN or something similar! Although i run a 170gb Applications Server from a NAS box a while back because i never had a server big enough to host that VM due to no other main servers being HOST's at the time.

    Anyway, the answer is yes it can be done but i would not recommend it if your thinking of having a classroom (mutiple) PC's connecting to the same VHD at the same time.

    Now,

    After looking at our new ICT Curriculum (SmartSkills) the students now have to do all kinds of stuff that we generally (and so do many other schools) disallow i.e. Running Commands from CMD etc

    So i am also having to think of away we can create a PC in which will give the students this elevated access but not give them any access to the core network in anyway at all!

    One thing that has crossed my mind and that is having a local VHD on each machine in the ICT Classrooms that the kids can logon to. I am not sure yet how i will allow it to be refreshed everytime the user logs off and a new user logs on but i have a few idea's i need to try.

    If i become successful with any of the above though i will let you know, as i think it is going to be coming more common now expecially in a secondary school where students need alot more access then we would normally give them.

    James.

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    You could use MS Virtual Server if you've got a physical server with enough RAM (if you're allocating 512Mb RAM to each machine and you want 20 of them, you've got to have 10Gb of RAM on the server - say 16Gb to be safe) - in this way, the VHD stays on the server running it and effectively you remote desktop into it.

    You certainly can run Virtual PC with the VHD on a network drive. The VMC file should specify the location of the VHD and you just point virtual PC to it (you can just make a shortcut to the VMC and clicking it will load VPC and the machine)

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    djdohboy's Avatar
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    I've used vm's in classrooms all be it on local machines but if you install Microsoft steady state on the vm's they will revert back to your original config on reboot! Even if they delete folders in the windows dir.

    Ps steady state is free

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    We trialled this for a while.

    Had one PC in each ICT room running VMware Player with a separate image for each room.

    Sadly it requires a fair amount of RAM, which made it almost un-usable.

    We had a problem finding the best VM software:

    1) Virtual PC 2004 - Supports snap shots, but not USB - students need to install a scanner, printer and digicam
    2) Virtual PC 2007 - Supports USB, but not snapshots!
    3) VMware Player - Supports both, but requires full version of VMware Workstation to create the image
    4) VMware Workstation - Perfect, but too pricey
    5) MS Virtual Server 2005 - Didn't suit the problem
    6) VirtualBox - Had issues keeping settings with different profiles

    In the end we took a laptop which had duff WLAN and LAN chips (basically useless) and used that.

    Set up a system restore point, with a VBS file to restore back to the specified point.

    As far as the teaching staff are aware, the students can mess around with it, and they have to run a single file, which restores the laptop.

    It works very well.
    Last edited by Trapper; 9th September 2009 at 11:12 PM.

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    Cache's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EduTech View Post
    Right,

    One thing that has crossed my mind and that is having a local VHD on each machine in the ICT Classrooms that the kids can logon to. I am not sure yet how i will allow it to be refreshed everytime the user logs off and a new user logs on but i have a few idea's i need to try.
    How about using Virtual PC and differentiating disks. The only problem then would be making sure that the kids then didn't save the changes to the differentiating disk and an undo disk, although it would be a lot quicker to recreate that from the reference disk then recreating the whole machine. Possibly even a script of some kind to replace the differentiating disk at some point with a copy o it from somewhere else? Last bit is just a random thought of the top of my head, don't know whether the rest of it will be of any use though.

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cache View Post
    How about using Virtual PC and differentiating disks. The only problem then would be making sure that the kids then didn't save the changes to the differentiating disk and an undo disk, although it would be a lot quicker to recreate that from the reference disk then recreating the whole machine. Possibly even a script of some kind to replace the differentiating disk at some point with a copy o it from somewhere else? Last bit is just a random thought of the top of my head, don't know whether the rest of it will be of any use though.
    I'll keep that in mind, at the moment i have a demo machine standard windows xp, a few changes to the local group policy and then i have windows SteadyState which works at the moment. i just need to test it in a classroom and see how it runs.

    James

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    VMware Player - Supports both, but requires full version of VMware Workstation to create the image
    I recall a ready-to-go ISO booting VM which you could get from VMWares appliance download area. A ready to build XP VM is pretty much the same, but with a tiny (because it's blank) virtual disk. Could be mistaken, but I also vaguely recall VMWare saying they couldn't care less about people throwing those around (would be a few K zipped up). I don't know what Player can do with snapshots though.

    A local VPC image with differencing is certainly one way to do this (so you can revert to a clean image every time). It does work.

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    craigg's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses.

    I have it set up from the network now.

    I sent the ISO out to some machines along with a registry patch to apply the security settings for non administrative users.

    The VHD is then stored on the network in a share which is mapped to a drive for the students at logon.

    There doesnt seem to be any performance issues as of yet... It just took a few tries to get the permissions right.

    The only problem is that it wont "share its settings between users". For example, i logon as admin and add the VHD from the mapped drive and it will show up everytime i open the program. But when i log on as a pupil or a different user i will have to re add the VHD.

    I have tried setting an environment variable called MYVIRTUALMACHINES which is then linked to the location of the VHD (V:\LabPC, in my case) but that just directs them to the folder when they browse to add an existing machine.

    I have read that using the "-defaultuser" switch can work but nobody seems to have it working yet.

    Also, i have undo disks enabled (which is gread i must add) and then have the program locked down so the students can only browse for a new vm and completely close the program.

    After reading the post though, i am concerned about the load on the server when a class of pupils access the VM. So maybe it might be worth having a number of VHDs or even getting them onto the local machine somewhere.



    Anyway, I'll be working on this for part of today so i'll let you know what happens..

    ahhh its going to be one of those days!

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    "The only problem is that it wont "share its settings between users". For example, i logon as admin and add the VHD from the mapped drive and it will show up everytime i open the program. But when i log on as a pupil or a different user i will have to re add the VHD."


    Yeah, Virtual PC is an application really, and wants to store VM's in My Documents by default even (aggravating if you;re every trying to backup someone's My Documents . . . ).

    The way I'm reading this is that you're going to attempt to share the VHD between users - this will not work, as the first user will lock the file.

    If I'm reading this wrong and you've multiple VHD files, I'd be tempted to do some timing tests with one and then increasing numbers of users, to see how the perfomance tails off (e.g. go to an empty classroom, login on ten stations at once and then try to boot 10 VM's at once).

    Although It'd make for a larger deployment package, I'd go with the local VHD every time, fwiw.

    Good luck!

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    you can choose not to save the config files in "my virtual pcs" i generally save them in the same folder as the hard disk file(s). im not sure having the vhd file on a network is a good idea though as i can see one huge amount of traffic being generated and what if 2 people try and use the same vhd at the same time? i cant see it liking that much

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trapper View Post
    2) Virtual PC 2007 - Supports USB
    really? I just installed this today and I could not get it to recognise USB memory sticks. I bit of Googling found many other people with the same problem, and a lot of talk about how it DIDN'T support USB...

    Can anyone else shed any light on the subject please?

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