Virtual PC 2007, Virtual Windows XP & Vista

virtualpcLately in the Tech Press there’s been a lot of interest in Microsoft’s new “Virtual XP Mode” for Windows 7.  This addition has the possibility (and some headaches) or allowing older, XP only software to work just fine in the Windows 7 environment.  Not running the Windows 7 RC here, I decided to see if it could be made to work on Vista.

The answer is Yes.

You can download Virtual PC 2007 for Vista here.

You can download the “Virtual XP Image” from Microsoft here.

You’ll need a little utility to extract the VHD from the Virtual XP Image you downloaded from Microsoft.  You can find that here.

Simply install Virtual PC 2007 for Vista, extract the.VHD file from the MS download, and then create a new virtual machine in VPC2007 with the XP image.  And it works!  Install the Virtualization Additions and the performance will be just fine.

My only complaint with VPC 2007 is that it does NOT have USB support.  The whole reason for me to use it is to get my old NEC SuperScript 1400 laser printer working in Vista x64.  I have a hack for Vista x86 (32-bit), but not x64 for not having printing is a pain.  Yes I could buy a printer, but, this one works just fine.

To get the printer working, I did a little Virtualization magic.  I converted the .VHD image from MS into a .VMDK file, and ran it with VMPlayer 2.5 from VMware.  I installed the Windows VMware tools, and everything works just fine.  I now have my old USB printer working on Vista x64.  I expect to use the same trick on Windows 7 when I upgrade.  Incidently, the USB support is pretty slick in VMplayer 2.5.  Unity mode rocks too.

MS Certification & Hyper-V


This week I achieved my Microsoft Certified Professional status when I passed my MCTS exam for Hyper-V. I find certifications valuable for customers when showing credibility. They demonstrate someone has the minimum level of knowledge needed to run a product, which is a good thing, especially in the consulting world.

In spending time learning and working with Hyper-V, it’s clear it is a different type of product than VMware VI3 or vSphere 4. Hyper-V gives, what I expect, good OS level virtualization. While VMware is still the market leader, I think Hyper-V could challenge it, mostly in the smaller enterprise and SMB space. The additional of MS Hyper-V R2 for free (which includes High Availability features and Live Migration similar to VMotion) is going to have customers kicking the tires on the product.

I myself still prefer VMware. From a fit and polish perspective, I find it offers more features and, IMHO, VMware is still more mature and proven. I certainly won’t be able to switch to Hyper-V for, simply because I would require a lot more hardware. I think the lack of memory over subscription and ballooning support will hold some customers (like me), back from the product.


Keeping the bad guys out…

lockAs anyone running servers on the Internet knows, there’s a tonne of people out there who just want to break into your system.  Either for malware, extortion or other nefarious purposes.

Good security best practices need to be observed.  I cannot imagine how the regular home user, survives very long unprotected on the Internet.  Here, as part of the design for, I have two main firewalls.  A screening router, and then a firewall that does even more screening (IDS, Malware, Spyware, etc).  If that’s not enough, the web server for the site is actually inside a private network, with a DMZ based web referral machine.  It’s smart enough to filter out those “bad” requests.

Next, I had the challenge of securing SSH.  I need it for access to the site and my systems remotely.  I found a great tool, DenyHosts that screens out the script kiddies and malware that love to run 1000’s of dictionary attacks on me a month. The traffic is now all but gone, and it safely stops intruders within a few seconds. I recommend anyone who needs SSH access in, take a peak at what it can do.