virtual machine

How to configure a Web Server within VirtualBox

The point of the project was this, create a web server using VirtualBox and host it on a Windows 7 64-bit platform. And why would I do something odd? Well, I need a copy of Windows 2003 Server Web Edition running on a new platform since the physical PC it was running on literally tore itself to pieces. The drives failed and the cost of buying EIDE drives is just a waste of money.

So why not just upgrade? Well, I will in the future, but I was actually using that machine. I’m familiar with 2003 and had everything dialed in the way I like it. And why host it in Windows 7? That’s the host OS of my most powerful machine, a 6-core machine with 16GB of ram. No sense in rebuilding everything when Windows 2003 Server isn’t multicore aware and only accesses 4GB of ram. But anyway, the OS and the host are sort of irrelevant, it’s the configuration that’s important. So here’s what I did.

First, within VirtualBox, change the networking from NAT to BRIDGED ADAPTER. Select the physical network adapter you want your host machine to connect to. If you have more than one network card, pick which one you want the Guest OS using. My machine has both wired and wireless NICs. I set VirtualBox up on the Wireless NIC.

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Second, pick the Virtual network card you want the guest OS to emulate. I chose the Intel Pro/1000 MT.

Third, boot the Guest OS and change the IP address of the virtual machine to the same IP address as your internal network. By default VirtualBox using 192.168.56.1. You Guest machine will probably have a similar address. Change it over to the same IP range as the guest machine, something like 192.168.1.xxx. For example, my host is 192.168.1.100 so the guest is 192.168.1.101. You need to give it a static IP address so you can set the Port Forwarding on your Router.

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Fouth, set Port forwarding on your router. Send traffic destined for port 80, 21 and whatever else you like (such as RDP) to the internal address of the Guest machine. Again, if the Guest is 192.168.1.101 then forward the traffic to that address. DON’T send anything to the VirtualBox network address of 192.168.56.xxx.

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Finally, make sure to DISABLE all POWER MANAGEMENT functions of both the HOST and GUEST OS. And not just for the machine and hard drives. Make sure you turn it off for the Network Cards. Your Server OS probably doesn’t have anything, but the Host might. My Windows 7 machine had Power Management turned on for both NICS. Disable that or your web server won’t get any traffic. For Windows 7 – Control Panel – Power Options – Change When the Computer Sleeps.

For the network card, Control Panel – Network and Internet – View Network Status and Tasks – Change Adapter Settings – Pick the BRIDGED ADAPTER you selected in VirtualBox, Right Click and choose Properties – Click Configure for the networking device itself. Click the Power Management tab to turn off any power saving options.

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That should be it. I now have Windows Server 2003 on the live web and it loads PHP, HTML and ASPX pages just fine. In fact, it’s faster than it ever was on the old hardware. Now I can load Windows Server 2008, configure it within it’s own VirtualBox, load all the correct modules and make the switch when I’m ready. Plus, I can have a standby server by making a copy of the VHD files.

This is specific to Windows 7 and Server 2003, but the concept is the same. You need to configure a BRIDGED APAPTER and configure a STATIC IP ADDRESS in the Guest OS. From there, you should have it all set.

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Acronis True Image 2012 for $19.95. That includes the Plus Pack and a Second Copy for Free

Here’s a deal I pretty much couldn’t refuse. For $19.95 you get two copies of True Image 2012, the Plus Pack and a free upgrade to True Image 2013 when it comes out. I assume that will be the end of the months since that’s when the deal ends. There is a deal out there right now where you can get this same bundle for $29.95, but this is the same deal for an additional $10 off.

Considering the hard drive issues I’ve had recently, getting a true backup of all my data seems like a good idea. I’ve also been messing around with O&O DiskImage 6, and while that’s a decent app, it’s not really as feature rich as it should be and it’s too kludgey to build a boot disk for it. It’s not bad, it just could be better.

The deal ends August 22, so if you’re looking to make a backup of your entire drive, want to clone your machine into a VM, or you’re looking to do some serious upgrades/patching and want a safety need, this should help you out.

True Image 2012 Features

Acronis True Image 2012 for $19.95. That includes the Plus Pack and a Second Copy for Free

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Converting A Physical Hard Drive To A Virtual Hard Disk

At first glance the project seemed easy – clone the physical hard drive inside a server and restore it into VirtualBox so as to use the virtual copy. Turns out, it doesn’t work the way I envisioned it in my head. All the latest software made promises of one-click cloning and on the fly conversion to VHD. But in the end, after three days of trying, I’m scrapping this project. I just can’t seem to get it to work.

I tried using the latest software like O&O DiskImage 6, which listed VHD as one of the output formats. Well, it outputs to VHD alright, but that image doesn’t load. I cloned the drive without incident, but for the life of me I can’t that server to boot in a virtual environment. I created a VHD, I restored to a new VDI, I installed a new OS and tried the restore from there, I used a boot CD and restored from there. Not one of these methods would actually produce a working system. I can lay down the data to a data drive and see all the content with no problem, but no matter which process I use I can’t seem to get a bootable clone of my server. I admit, I’m not the sharpest knife in the things that holds knives, but I can’t for the life of me see what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been trying for three days and have called it quits.

This was supposed to be a simple task, a 3-4 hour job that would transport the server from the physical realm to the virtual one. With the amount of time I’ve wasted I could have installed a new server, installed all the frameworks and rebuilt everything from scratch, which is exactly what I’m going to do. I wanted a clone so I could perform maintenance with minimal downtime. If I had to rebuild the damn thing, I might as well start over and do a full blown upgrade.It’s not what I had in mine, but when all else fails, reinstalled is the best option.

If anyone knows the right process, the right software, the right way to hold your fingers to clone a drive and get it to load in VirtualBox, please let me know. I’m dying to know how it’s done. It’s sort of like a magic trick, I want to know how the cool kids do it.

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