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Switching to Windows Server 2008 on my Laptop

Posted in at Monday, January 7, 2008 10:33 AM Pacific Standard Time

Since I do all of my development work using virtual machines, I have been very interested in the new Hyper-V feature found in Windows Server 2008. A few of the new features I was interested in were:

  • New and improved architecture: New 64-bit micro-kernelized hypervisor architecture enables Hyper-V to provide a broad array of device support and improved performance and security.
  • Broad OS support: Broad support for simultaneously running different types of operating systems, including 32-bit and 64-bit systems across different server platforms, such as Windows and Linux.
  • SMP support: Ability to support up to 4 multiple processors (SMP) in a virtual machine environment to enable you to take full advantage of multi-threaded applications in a virtual machine.
  • Virtual machine snapshot: Hyper-V provides the ability to take snapshots of a running virtual machine so you can easily revert to a previous state and improve the overall backup and recoverability solution.

So now I can run 64 bit virtual machines and my virtual machines will have access to the multiple cores on my laptop. The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether I wanted to give up the nice UI in Vista. However, I saw on Stuart Maxwell's blog that you can enable Windows Aero with a couple of extra steps (and you can enable you WiFi connection). So downloaded and installed Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V beta (on a spare drive so I can swap back if things go wrong) using the steps from the Virtual PC Guy's blog. I was able to use all the same drivers that I had used from my 64-bit Vista install that I was previously running. Besides the ~2 minute boot up, my laptop is performing pretty well.

Here are a few tricks and tips if you're thinking about trying this out yourself.

  1. Buy a new laptop hard drive if you don't already have a spare to install it on. This means you can always go back if you can't get things working correctly.
  2. Most applications that I installed (this is a host-only install for me, no Visual Studio or other dev tools) with the exception of the Windows Live applications:
    • Windows Live Messenger - Download the stand-alone installer here. This installs fine using this installer.
    • Windows Live Writer - Just zip up the Writer folder from your Vista 64 bit install and then unzip it on the Server install.
  3. The Hyper-V integration services (equivalent of Virtual Machine additions) will only install on Windows Server 2003 with service pack 2 installed. So before shutting down your other OS make sure you uninstall the virtual machine additions and then install SP2.
  4. Windows Search service is not enabled by default and it isn't obvious how to turn this on. Olav Tollefsen's blog has the details on how to do this.
  5. In Vista you can hold shift and then right click a directory to get the "Command Prompt Here" functionality. This is missing from Server 2008, but if you run the registry script from RandyRants you get both a Command Prompt Here and an Elevated Command Prompt here which is great.
  6. Update[2]: Turn off IE Enhanced Security using this tech recipe.


There are a few things that so far I don't like, one of which might be a deal breaker.

  1. Virtual machines running in Hyper-V cannot use the 802.11 network connection, it only supports 802.3. This might be a real issue if I'm at a location with wireless only and I need to get access to something on my virtual. Update[4]: You can get around this by setting up a virtual network and sharing your Internet connection. See my post here on how to do this.
  2. It would be nice if there was better integration between Virtual PC, Virtual Server, and Hyper-V so that they would all play nice together. But this probably isn't a huge deal.
  3. There is no run-as Windows Vista so that I can fool programs into thinking they are talking to Windows Vista. I was able to get around the Windows Live applications issue with this, but I'm sure there will be some other application down the road that I won't be able to install.
  4. Update[1]: One issue that bugs me is I can't figure out how to disable the shutdown event tracker. This doesn't seem to have the same fix as Windows Server 2003.
  5. Update[3]: When I click on the power icon in the tray I can see all the power options, but they are all grayed out so I cannot change it here. Instead I have to click More Power Options, then Change settings that are currently unavailable, then the UAC dialog, and then I can change the settings. I'm sure there is some way to make this work like Vista where you can just change it in the original dialog, but I'll have to dig around to figure it out.

Other than that I'm liking my new OS. I keep this post up to date if anything else comes up.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008 1:31:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

I just tried this and it worked.
Antonio Rodriguez
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 12:09:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Perhaps the text below does the trick??

The dirty little secret is that powercfg.exe is also pretty much the only way to control power management inside a Windows Server 2008 Core server.

At minimum, I usually set these values on my Core VMs/Core Servers, inside a batch file, which is primarily a cut and paste from some of Richard Smith's post:

REM sets the power configuration to High Performance
powercfg -setactive 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c

REM turns hibernation off
powercfg -hibernate OFF

REM set the absentia power scheme (the scheme used when no one is logged in)
powercfg -setabsentia 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c

Note: Many people might wonder why I am setting power management settings on a virtual machine, but I tend to use VMWare Workstation 6.0 and report battery status, which in turn enables power management items inside Server 2008 and Server Core 2008.

Friday, February 8, 2008 4:48:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
What laptop do you have ? I'm in the market for a new one and would like to find out which laptops can run Hyper-V (ie x64 + Hardware Virt stuff)
Andy Ball
Saturday, February 9, 2008 5:12:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Antonio: Thanks, that worked!

Andy: I have the Toshiba M5 with the T7400 CPU (not all the M5 laptops have the x64 CPU).
Thursday, May 8, 2008 5:38:14 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
cheers for that - I went for a Dell XPS 1530 in the end after quite a bit of research on whether it would run 64 bit (ie drivers cos Dell officially doesn't support) and Hyper-V

So far working a treat

So whats the performance degradation when running SQL in a Hyper-V VM v on the real machine :-) .. I know the answer is "it depends" but I'm testing this now ... :-)
Andy Ball
Monday, June 23, 2008 3:03:26 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
You can install the technology preview of Windows Live Writer on your Windows Server 2008 x64 now see http://www.devprise.com/2008/06/18/howto-install-windows-live-writer-on-windows-server-2008/
Thursday, October 9, 2008 7:14:19 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Nice work, for the shutdown stuff, this worked for me:
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 3:02:29 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
I'm convinced and seems like majority here tried it.I will work on to this one and thanks for a great share of updates.
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