VMWare Workstation Lost All USB Devices – Fix

I blogged earlier about VMWare and Lost Ethernet connections as Emily has her pc running as VM on my dev machine at home. Well recently another weird thing happened. All USB devices dissapeared. Not sure why or what happened, but I had to edit the .vmx file directly in notepad and set the option

usb.present = “TRUE”

it was set to FALSE, but neither of us changed it, somehow VMWare lost the ability to know it could process usb devices for this VM. Odd, but resolved.

Living Virtually: Running your Dev Process on Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines have been around for years. VMWare and Microsoft have been the main competitors for a while, both offering somewhat similar products. Parallels for Mac is another, and Virtual Box for pretty much everything. I have used them all. When it comes right down to it, VMWare, to me, is ahead of the rest, so I am going to focus on that. Heck, I did a P2V (Physical to Virtual) on my girlfriends wacked out laptop and that is working great, 2 months later 🙂

What is a typical scenario for most people? They go buy a machine, set it up, use it. It works great. It crashes or gets hosed. They lose most if not everything, spend a week redoing the machine and start the process over. This goes on for a few years, then they get a new machine, and start the cycle over

But…

What if you thought “virtually”? So, you go buy (or build) your beefy development machine. But then didn’t install anything but Windows Updates (of course), and VMWare Workstation. Now granted your want your physical box to have 8, 12, or 16 GB of RAM, and loads of fast disk space, but yeah, just need to have a beefy machine.

Now, you set up your actual dev machine as a virtual machine, you give it 8 GB of RAM. You install the OS, and take a snapshot (In VMWare). You install VS2010, take a snapshot. You install SQL Server 2008 R2 Dev, snapshot. You install each browser you need to test with, snapshot, snapshot, snapshot. You get the idea.

Now, if something is totally wacked, you can revert to a snapshot. You can even have multiple paths of snapshots, this type of thing is very VERY cool if you get it going correctly.

You can also just grab the entire VM hard disk and settings and copy off to your trusty 2 TB USB drive or whatever and you can do this once a week and you have a complete backup of your dev machine.

You can then set up another VM, say, “Web Server” or whatever you desire, give it 2 GB or whatever it needs to run, do the same thing. You can have both running, and do your testing. You can create a separate SQL Machine for testing. Try to set up your environment as you would for your development. If you need an Active Directory? Set that up, set up 3 VM’s or whatever, you don’t need to have them all running all the time. You need Exchange? Or SharePoint? Same thing. You have a Technet or MSDN Subscription, right? No? Go get one NOW.

What is even better then best, is that 3 years later, when you get an even better machine, you know what? You just install VMWorkstation, and copy or locate your VM’s and you are set. No resetting things up, etc, etc. It just works.

You want to create a smaller dev VM for holiday travel? Take it on USB, use Mom’s PC with VMWare Player and give your VM 1 GB of RAM. You just need enough to get by on. No laptop needed, just bring up your USB. You get the idea.. you can do pretty much anything you’d like.

If a salesperson came up to you and said “I have a way for you to configure multiple environments, multiple computers, setups, and have ways to revert back to things you did while configuring, and take backups of everything easily, etc, etc” How much would you pay? $1k? $5k? More?

How about roughly $200, for VMWare Workstation (if you already have Technet/MSDN – which you would have already). I’m sold.

If you really want to get complicated, you can set up VM Farms, and run VMWare Servers, and have multiple VM’s going and easily accessible. But using VMWorkstation to start is good enough, and good enough is fine 🙂


VMWare Converter Windows 7 P2V and Lost Ethernet Connections

Wow, so tonight, I took a laptop that was having some screen issues. It was a Dell Inspiron, and the screen would go black randomly (not completely, you could baaarely see the screen). Tested power settings, etc, etc. Only thing I can think of is a short somewhere. You close the lid, open it, and it works. Well since that is a pain, I decided to take VMWare’s free converter (http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/) and do a Physical to Virtual (P2V) image, and then run it on a beefy dev box I have with 8 GB’s of RAM.

Started the P2V after registering and installing the converter, everything was going good. I noticed that the converter said it didn’t support Windows 7, but ok, I gave it a go. As it was converting (I wrote the VM image out to a USB drive), the screen went black, so I had to do about 50% of the conversion barely being able to see the screen, but it worked.

After the P2V conversion, I took the USB drive with the image, hooked it up to my beefy machine and copied the image over. Fired up VM Workstation 6.5 and started up the VM. Worked. Noticed though that the OS was set to “other” and the VMware tools wouldn’t install. Powered down the VM. Changed to “Windows Vista” since VM Workstation 6.5 doesn’t support Windows 7 either. Started it up again. Cool, installed the VMware Tools. Changed resolution. Everything cool… except… no network! Both ethernet devices (lan and Wifi) were showing up as no drivers. WTF?!?

Downloaded drivers from Dell, installed, wouldn’t find them yet even after installing. Thought maybe I needed VMWorksation 7.1, so upgraded and still nothing. Uninstalled devices, changed numerous settings, still nothing. Plugged in a USB wifi, and that worked, but that was just a test.

Digging around mutliple forums and what not, found some things about editing the .vmx file with notepad and adding the line

ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000”

So I tried that, and it worked! From what I can gather, since the converter doesn’t support Windows 7, it sets the OS to other, and then doesn’t grab the Ethernet settings correctly. Changing from other to Windows7 (in VM Workstation 7.1) you can install the VMWare tools. Adding that line to your .vmx file (and ethernet1 if you have multiple adapters) should do the trick.

One Year Ago Today…

One Year Ago Today, I bought my MacBook Pro. And guess what? It is still running, on the original config, original boot, no reformatting, no repaving, no major surgery, nothing. And it still runs great. I have a ton of apps installed, but just enough, just what I need.

What is funny though, is that using VMWare Fusion, I have reformatted or redone my Windows VM’s multiple times because of issues. Is that just how things are? I think so.

This is probably the longest time EVER that I have had a machine without reformatting it. I think back when I was eleven years old, like 1991, reformatting our 386 25Mhz Packard Bell every 6 or so months with Windows 3.11

I have to say, the MacBook Pro is an awesome machine. Every time I use it, I wish I could just run a Windows VM for work on it, off a USB drive, just take it back and forth, and that is one less physical machine I would have to worry about.. someday..

What is the longest you have went without reformatting, voluntary or involuntary?


Photo Courtesy of Alistair Israel