Virtual PC on Windows 7

You can run Virtual PC 2007 on Windows 7, but Windows 7 does include a new version of Virtual PC as part of the operating system, which is good.

The problem I have, and as will many others, is though my 64Bit Acer 8210’s Intel process has hardware virtualization support, Acer for some bizarre reason chose to disable it in the BIOS; thought it was enabled in the 32bit 8200 series, and is enable in the later Travelmate equivalents. Acer are not alone in this choice. This means that many people with fairly recent PCs will not be able to run the newer version of Virtual PC.

If at all possible I think Microsoft need to provide support for host PCs with no hardware virtualization support,or that lack the option to enable it in the BIOS, as does my Acer. However I wonder, as hardware virtualisation is pre-requisite for Hyper V, is it that this new version Virtual PC share technology with Hyper V, thus giving the same hardware requirements?

Virtual Server and MAC addresses

Today I had to do some work on an old VB6 system, a development environment I do not have on my Vista laptop.

So I copied a Virtual PC image I had with most of the tools I needed and ran it on one of our Virtual Servers. As this VPC needed to run at the same time as the VPC I copied it from, I ran NewSid to change the SID and the PC names.

All seemed good until I tried to use the network, both within our LAN and the Internet it was very intermittent, but I saw no errors.

To cut a long story short the problem was I had two VPC images with the same MAC address. Once I stopped the new VPC, changed the MAC address and restarted it all was fine.

So the Technical Tip is – if you copy a VPC image you need to run NewSID and manually alter the MAC address to avoid network clashes

Accessing Virtual Server via VMRC through a ISA firewall with Vista

The problem

We have had an insteresting problem, we have a Virtual Server 2007 R2 (Beta), this is accessed both internally on our company network and externally via a ISA 2006 on the Internet. This has been working fine with our XP PCs, but we saw problems when we tried to use Vista.

When on our LAN, the Vista PC was fine, you could connect to the Virtual Server console web page and VMRC to any VPC. We had set our domain *.blackmarble.co.uk as the local intranet in IE security so we were not prompted for for repeated logins.

If the Vista PC was a member of our domain then VMRC login failed outside the firewall, you were still prompted for the ISA login and got to the Virtual Server console but the VMRC failed with an authentication failure, the same happened if I used the VMRC.EXE. However, if the Vista PC was not a member of our domain it worked (and also remember XP worked whether a member of the domain for not).

The Solutions

I contacted Ben Armstrong (http://blogs.msdn.com/Virtual_PC_Guy/) to see if there were any known issues long this line, and there were not, but he made some interesting suggestions that in the end got us to the solution. 

If we temporarily removed *.blackmarble.co.uk from the Vista PCs IE local intranet group and it started to work both inside and outside the firewall, but we had to authenticate a good few times.

We then put the entry for *.blackmarble.co.uk from the Vista PCs IE local intranet group back, and as expected it started to fail again.

We then had a look on the Virtual Server Console, server properties, VMRC server properties. The authentication was set to automatic (the default), we changed this to NTLM. Once this was done the Vista PC could VMRC from inside and outside the firewall without issues.

So I think being a member of the domain was a red herring, it was the fact the PCs in our domain had the IE local intranet set was the key issue.

I am not sure of the route cause, especially as it seem to be Vista specific, it could be:

  1. A kerberos issue on our LAN
  2. Bug in Vista/IE authentication
  3. Bug in Virtual Server 2007R2 (we did try both the beta and RC)
  4. Bug in VMRC.EXE

Anyway at least we have a solution.

Update on Virtual Server

Yesterday I posted about problems with accessing remotely the Virtual PCs from the Virtual Server console. It turns out the problem was domain name related. We had a different name on the internal DNS to that on the external side.

In effect the server was trying to call:

vmrc://virtualserver.mydomain.co.uk:5900/my pc

when we should have been calling

vmrc://virtualserver-external.mydomain.co.uk:5900/my pc

even though we had actually accessed the system via

http://virtualserver-external.mydomain.co.uk

This has been fixed by getting all our DNS entries in line.

Accessing Virtual Server via an ISA server

We have been moving over to ISA Server to allow better management of internet resources, one problem we have had is publishing our Virtual Server so our tele-workers can get remote access to the test systems.

The ISA application publish rule works fine to allow access to the main Virtual Server console page (can create, start stop PC etc) but if you click on a Virtual PC you get a no connection screen, so you cannot actually use the Virtual PC.

However I found a way round this problem. When you get the no connection screen, click the remote connect option on the top right you can enter the URL in the form

vmrc://virtualserver.mydomain.co.uk:5900/my pc

and assuming you have allowed the 5900 access through the ISA firewall it should work.

So it looks like the problem is that when you click the thumbnail of the PC to access it uses some other URL to the form shown above. I will try to find out why this is.

Look out for more posts on ISA on BM Bloggers as we get our teeth into it.