A quick note about g4u – g4u (Ghost for you) is a hard disk imaging tool similar to Norton Ghost, but without the cost. g4u allows you to image hard disks to both files and physical media. This can be accomplished within a physical machine, a virtual machine, or by using an FTP server on either of the two.
Since installing bbPress on the forum.blandname.com subdomain, I’ve become addicted to the rapid posting workflow: add topic, title, description and post! It’s 4 steps and is over so quick I’ve been thinking about making a bookmarklet that will automate the task for me. Here’s the latest smaller posts I sent there, but should some day expand upon here (I’ll use blandname for longer posts from now on):
- vTiger CRM Virtual Machine
- RDP Manager for your Windows System Tray
- HOWTO TrixBox – VoIP Virtual Machine
- Online Virtual Machine Builder
- Microsoft Distributes Demo Software via VHD
- FREE Terminal Server Monitoring Tool
- VMware Workstation 6 Feature List
- Multi monitor support for RDP 6
- Add Reflections to bbPress Images
- Google PageRank and Alexa in Your Firefox 2
- Display Digg in WordPress – Digg Dugg Plugin
- Google Analytics Plugn for bbPress
Currently the only way to get Vista on Vista virtualization running is to either use Virtual Server 2005 with some tweaks, or if you are part of the Virtual PC 2007 beta you can install Virtual PC 2007 (VPC 2K7) on Vista with no tweaks or hacks needed whatsoever. Unfortunately neither of these solutions can virtualize a 64bit operating system, but VMware Server should be Vista compliant soon – so I’m holding me breath until then.
Following my friend’s guide to setting up Virtual PC 2007 on Windows Vista found over at WebandRaptors, I was able to get VPC 2k7 set up quickly and without pain.
Next came the Windows Vista install, which was pretty straightforward. Something to note: you don’t actually need to use a CD key during installation, you can simply click the “next” button and the installer will inform you that a CD key will be needed later, I think it’s about 30days before it becomes necessary.
Once Vista is installed and configured for remote access from within VPC, all you need to do to get Aero Glass running is to connect to the virtual machine using the Remote Desktop Connection (RDP 6) client. If your host, or physical, machine supports Aero Glass, the virtual machine will allow you to take advantage of it, giving you transparent blurred windows, mouse-over taskbar previews, and cool windows+tab animation!
In the coming weeks I will be working more on Microsoft’s Windows Vista as it ramps up to release to manufacture (RTM) status.
Although you can currently run Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 in 32 bit mode on a Windows Vista physical machine, I’ve learned that I was recently accepted into the Virtual PC 2007 beta tester program, and that Virtual PC 2007 can run on 64bit Vista.
If you are interested in joining the Virtual PC 2007 beta program, I highly suggest you sign up, then play some fantastic Rod Stewart albums until you are accepted.
By the way, this does in fact mean you can run Vista on Vista reliably now. VMWare Workstation and Server still don’t work at this point, but it’s on the way, just stay tuned.
Continuing on our saga through the undocumented Virtual Server WMI interfaces, we now arrive at disk usage information. Here is a sample script that will create a list of the currently running virtual machines, and display the amount of disk activity they have had since they were powered on.
Set vsWMIObj = GetObject(“winmgmts:\\.\root\vm\virtualserver”)
Set vms = vsWMIObj.ExecQuery(“SELECT * FROM VirtualMachine”,,48)
For Each vm in vms
Wscript.Echo “Virtual machine: ” & vm.Name
Wscript.Echo “MiB read from disk: ” & vm.DiskBytesRead / 1048576
Wscript.Echo “MiB written to disk: ” & vm.DiskBytesWritten / 1048576
As you can see these disk counters usually report values in bytes. It is important to note that these counters are also reset to zero every time the virtual machine is turned off.
SSH is one powerful tool. You can do just about everything under the sun using an SSH login to a remote computer. SSH works very well in low-bandwidth situations like dialup, or satlinks.
But wakeup, we’re no longer in the 80s – people want GUIs, let’s give them fancy-pants graphics, bouncing cursors and silly linux wizards. Remotely.
Enter Xming, what I would name as top of my favorite applications. Xming is just like X over SSH, for dummies (or people who would rather spend more time working).
Xming allows you to connect to remote or local Linux workstations and servers and run full graphical applications on those remote machines on your local Windows computer.
Here’s how it works: all of the applications are run remotely, but when it comes to the graphics, the information that would invoke the graphics is sent to your local computer, not a bitmap or a sequence of bitmaps like VNC. Xming uses a local X server on your Windows computer in order to display your remote applications. This local X server is 2D accelerated, and it’s sometimes difficult to even notice that you are working remotely.
Since Xming can run in windowed or full-screen modes, you can establish thin client connections in this fashion, or you can publish applications Citrix-style.
Xming is completely free to install and setup. It is a great way to manage virtual machines, and in fact is often faster than Microsoft’s Virtual Server ActiveX control (surprised?), VMWare’s Virtual Machine view (even with VMWare tools!), and even Parallels speedy virtual machine view.
To set the whole thing up, you’ll need a computer running Microsoft Windows, one Linux box, a network connection between the two, but you won’t need much effort.
First install the Windows Xming server on your Windows computer. We’ll use Windows XP SP2 in this example, but it could easily be other varieties. Xming can be found on Sourceforge quite easily, download it, run the install (use defaults), and start XLauncher.
On the Linux computer this are slighlty more complicated, but not by much. For Gnome or KDE on Ubuntu Edgy, go to the System>Administration menu in your menu bar. In Administration, we’ll select login preferences as we’ll be setting up a new logon method (we’re using XDMCP). Select the Remote tab, and enable remote logon (same as local) to your Edgy Eft machine.
Now on your Windows machine, set up XLaunch to logon to your Linux machine using it’s IP address. Save the setting if you want, and connect. You will be presented with a logon screen to your Linux desktop!
Whenever you start adding funny-flavored operating systems to a network, you eventually run into filesharing problems. Even if you only have a few machines, coming to a consensus on how to get files from point A to B can be quite taxing – especially if there’s work to be done.
Over the years I’ve tried FTP, Samba, NFS and a host of others. When configured well they work like a charm. However, when a new node joins the network (that shiny new Mac Pro of yours), things need to be reconfigured and can generally be a royal pain.
That has changed, though. We now have an acceptable solution that is free, easy to use and above all, secure. Introducing… SCP.
SCP has been around for a while now, and is gaining quite a bit of traction in the hosting world where it is (albeit slowly) starting to replace FTP for upload and download tasks. SCP stand for Secure Copy (CP being Copy on *nix variants). SCP works a lot like FTP in that you require an address to connect to, a username (login) and a password (we won’t get into stored keys today).
Now that we’ve decided what to try in our ad hoc network, how do we set it up? If you’re blessed with any variant of Linux or Unix, the work has been done for you already – the tools come with the operating system, and are generally found under the network tools in your fancy menus.
It’s a different story on Apple Macs and PCs, though. For example, Tiger comes with an SCP server, but no client. Right, about the Mac server. In order to activate it in Panther, Tiger and even Leopard, head on over to the System Preferences pane, and choose the Sharing applet (the folder with the caution sign on it). Once it has opened, check the Remote Login checkbox. This will enable SSH, and in turn, SCP. We’re halfway there. You can connect to an SCP server by using the Terminal on a Mac, but from what I can tell most Mac users are frightfully scared of it. But that gives me the oppurtunity to tell you about one of my favorite applications – Fugu (japanese for blowfish – and sporting a suitably cute icon to boot). Fugu allows you to connect to an SCP server to both download and upload files. Fugu is quite easy to use, so we won’t get into that, but will save it for another time if need be (just like stored keys). Oh, and as the screenshot shows you, it works with Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 too! (as well as Leopard)
In the PC world, WinSCP is Fugu’s sibling. You get an extremly easy to use interface, complete with drag and drop. Installation is a breeze, and best of all it’s free as in both beer and speech. Just like those soapbox ramblers. Getting a Windows SCP server is a bit more difficult, but currently exists in the form of BitVise WinSSHD. WinSSHD is slightly complicated, but most of the configuration is done during the installation procedure. They supply you with the needed variables, and one you have finished you will have set up an account you can use to test from your other workstations. The screenshot above was taken with the wonderful WinSnap – it comes highly recommended.
Let the cross-platform filesharing begin!
If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, head on over to the blandname contact page and we’ll see what we can do!
Oh, and by the way, since you’ve noticed I always talk about virtualization, this certainly applies to getting files to and fro from your virtual machines in VMWare Server, Virtual Server (Virtual PC if need be) and Parallels – I have even found it to be faster than any other technique!
Forget Windows Vista.
The real new, exciting operating system from Microsoft is on it’s way and is supposedly slated for January.
Here’s a shortlist of reasons why you should care and what to look for:
LLMNR – Have you ever had master WINS browser woes? Name resolution problems? Microsoft wants to make this a thing of the past. In my experience this has been one of the largest pains – when the master browser goes down you lose name resolution. LLMNR fixes that. I’m happy. Testing the current Windows Server Codename Longhorn on virtual networks has shown so far that it works as expected already. I’m still happy. Basically this is multicast DNS (mDNS). Follow the link for a nice wiki article that will surely convince you.
Core Server Mode – Longhorn has a new locked down mode meant for bare-bones brass tax servers. They call it Core. What this means to the regular Windows admin is that there are no more wizards. Heck, there’s no more standard graphical UI. You get a command-line shell (DON’T call this DOS, they’ll find you!) to play around with. Servers are configured via preconfiguration scripts, this shell, and remote administration tools. If this is as fast and secure as it is supposed to be, it’ll be gravy. What you DO get: DHCP server, DNS server, file server, active directory, read-only domain controller, cluster services, load balancing, and services for Unix. That’s right, services for Unix is there too.
Application Publishing – I covered application publishing in Longhorn previously, and it’s what I am most excited about, to be honest. Pick an application, fire up the wizard, make an RDP file and send away to clients (even older XP terminals) – it’s that easy. While this will take the bread out of a lot of app vendors hands, it also allows for a wealth of innovation and I simply can’t wait to see what happens here.
Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 – In the same vein, and under the Terminal Server umbrella, the Remote Desktop Connection client gets an update that adds some much-needed and oft-asked-for features. Namely: PnP redirection for media players and digicams, multiple monitor support (I’m talking to you, Bill), desktop theming, and single sign-on. Whew. I’ll have to get into this one later.
Sharepoint V3 – It’s bigger, badder, and better code for Sharepoint. Better integration with Office 2007, faster load times, more features (of course), and item-level access control. Not to mention RSS by default – that’s was the deal-closer for me. Nor more need for infinite emails sent via alerts – just use RSS! Much like Apple, Microsoft has become a fan of RSS and it’s good news all around.
IIS 7 – You’re laughing. I see you snickering. Yes IIS is used externally, and its market share is growing right now, funnily enough. In IIS 7.0 you get reduced attack surface through feature modules. This is marketing-speak that means you can disable IIS services you don’t need. You get easy replication using web configuration files. And lastly you get better admin tools. Well slightly better anyway. This isn’t Plesk, Ensim or CPanel, but it’ll have to do ’til those guys get around to supporting Longhorn.
That about sums up the good things I’ve seen and tested to date on my virtual machines (VMWare Server, Virtual Server R2 and Parallels). Feel free to chime in about what tickles your fancy or rattles your chains, I’m all ears.
This hack will allow you to connect multiple time to your Microsoft Windows XP machine using an RDP client coming from a Mac, Linux, or another PC like a real Terminal Server, or a Windows Server running Citrix.
In detail, this hack patches many pieces of Windows XP in order to allow the same Terminal Services functionality that you find in Microsoft Windows Terminal Server, but without the licensing costs. The stability of the hack has not been verified, but the virtual machine used has been running for over a week now with 20 conenctions to it and has yet to fail once.
In order to perform the hack you will need one external file, some guts, and a backup. The backup is extremely important. I highly recommend that you test the procedure using virtualisation technoloy like Parallels, Virtual Server (free), or VMWare Server (also free). You have no excuse to procede without a backup – consider yourselves warned.
The file needed for the hack is actually a combination of some registry tweaks and DLL/EXE patches made by “antiwpa”. antiwpa is known for dealing with another Windows XP issue that we won’t get into here – I’m sure you can guess what it is easily.
No that you have the file, and backup, we’ll extract it and start the install process. It’s quite simple – you double-click on the application, it starts a command line window, you press a key and the patch commences. Eventually the command line portion will end and you will get a Windows warning regarding system files having been replaced – we’ll cancel the restore “feature”, and let Microsoft know that we are running untested code by pressing the “yes” button on the next window.
A second patcher launches with full GUI this time. We click on the “patch” button and we are finished. Easy huh?
Moving on… If you try to connect to the XP machine now, you will notice that the maximum number of connections has been reached. This is easy enough to fix, but it’s readily apparent where we need to go. Click on Start, then Run, and type in:
Once the Group Policy Editor has opened, navigate to “Computer Configuration”, “Administrative Templates”, then “Terminal Services”.
In the “Terminal Services” tree, you’ll see a policy named “Limit number of connections”. Double-click on this policy. Set the policy to enabled, and adjust the maximum connections to suit your need. I recommend trying “2″ to start off with.
Now reboot your machine, and attempt to connect the amount of times you have specified. If you need mre connections, navigate back to the policy editor and set the maximum amount higher.
Once you have completed your testing, back the machine up once more for good measure. If you don’t have disk imaging software, I’d recommend using the open source g4u – otherwise commercial applications such as Symantec Ghost will work.
Moving on, if you feel the need to manage the users (log them off, control sessions) like on a real Terminal Server, you can grab a copy of the “tsadmin.exe” file from a Windows Server 2003 machine’s “SYSTEM32″ folder and copy to the Windows XP machine’s SYSTEM32 folder. Running TSAdmin is as easy as clicking on Start, Run, then typing tsadmin, but you might also want to make a shortcut to the file for good measure.