As with previous blog posts on the subject of virtualisation, I used VirtualBox to run an image of Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition(tm) on Kubuntu 7.10. You will need a fairly powerful machine with a lot of free hard disk space and free RAM. I set aside 15GB of hard disk space for the image and 1GB of RAM to be dedicated to the virtual machine.
The first step you will need to do is to get a DVD image of the Windows Server 2008 installer. Microsoft make a version available that you can use for sixty days to evaluate the system. You can get the image from: here on the Microsoft website. I went for the 32 bit option, which went by the friendly name 6001.18000.080118-1840_x86fre_Server_en-us-KRMSFRE_EN_DVD.iso, it was considerably smaller that the 64bit version, weighing in at just 1793.3 MB rather than 2539.9 MB. Obviously this is a very bigdownload, so you should only attempt this if you have a fast internet connection.
Once the DVD image is downloaded (just a note here, I did not see a link for a MD5 checksum to check that the image was uncorrrupted – the MD5 sum for the image I downloaded was 89fbc4c7baafc0b0c05f0fa32c192a17) it is time to set up a new machine on VirtualBox. The specification used was:
OS Type: Vista
Virtual disk size: 15GB
Audio: ALSA driver
You can now use VirtualBox's first run wizard to set up the machine with the Windows Server 2008(tm) DVD image. The actual installation is pretty much a case of following the wizard, there are however a couple of gotchas on the way.
The first of these is
when it asks for a product key (you might have forgotten about these if you have been using open source for a long time). It says on the Microsoft website that "This software is for evaluation and testing purposes. Evaluating Windows Server® 2008 software does not require product activation or entering a product key. Any edition of Windows Server 2008 may be installed without activation and evaluated for an initial 60 days.”, so we can just ignore this step and continue anyway, I also unticked the box that said “activate”.
It seems a consequence of not putting in a product key means that Windows doesn't which edition it is meant to be and you are offered “Standard”, “Enterprise” and “Datacenter” options (in proprietary software land the words “Enterprise” and “Expensive” are largely interchangeable!). I picked the first one from the list. After that it offered installation options, one for an upgrade and one for a clean install (“Custom/Advanced”). The upgrade option was obviously unavailable so I clicked on the second option.
So now it was time to install the operating system. A message was shown with the news that “Your computer will restart several times during installation”, which won't surprise anybody who has worked with Windows in the past. The actual installation process did not seem to take long at all, this might be helped by using an image of the DVD rather than a physical DVD. After it boots for the first time you are invited to set the Administrator password. There is here a rule in place for minimum password complexity, unfortunately it doesn't seem to say anywhere what it is, but I found that if you set a password with a mixture of letter numbers and special characters that seemed to do the job.
When you log in for the first time you will see a screen inviting you to perform initial configuration on the server. You might also notice that under “Network Adapters” it says “None detected”. This is because the OS doesn't have drivers for the network card emulated by VirtualBox already installed, so you will need to install the missing drivers by selecting “Machine” -> “Install Guest Additions”. When you do this, Windows will think a CD image has been inserted and will offer to run it. Do this and follow the prompts. When finished
you will need to reboot. When I tried this I found that I got a nasty error screen when restarting:
“Start Windows Normally” seemed to work without any problems. After reboot, networking was active.
Now you can go and configure Windows Server 2008 as you wish. One thing I did find confusing (as I am not used to Vista either) was trying to find outhow to change the display resolution, eventually I found this under
“start” -> “computer” -> “control panel” (at top right) -> “personalization” -> “display settings”.
Running an operating system in a guest machine is very useful as you can develop and test on that machine without having to find a physical bit of hardware. This has many uses, but it can be seen here that (K)ubuntu running a virtualisation solution such as VirtualBox is a very powerful addition to a developers toolbox and enables you to cope with a wide variety of platform requirements.