Wednesday, October 28, 2009


With the recent release of Windows 7, I was inspired to install it as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu laptop. I still have a copy of Windows 7 RC, so that's what I installed. I really can't quite bring myself to commit to blowing $200+ on a Windows O/S which won't even be the primary O/S on my system. Not only that, I need to make sure that it's actually worth running before I event commit to eventually dishing out the dough. If memory serves me right, Windows 7 RC should work on my computer until around March 2010, after which it will shut itself off after an hour, and then by around May 2010, it won't boot up anymore. Moral of the story: I still have time.

I got this great little portable 400GB HDD for my laptop a couple of months back. The great thing about it is that it's small and bus-powered. That means that I don't have to plug it into an A/C adapter to power it up; it's powered purely by my USB port. The downside to this is that when you run this on a laptop, it definitely drains your battery more quickly. That's small potatoes, because I've got a big beefy laptop battery, and I can keep all of my important files on this HDD and I can easily move from one computer to another (I've got 3 computers that I actually use). Win-win! At any rate, the whole point of this is that when I set up my Windows 7 RC VM (using Sun's VirtualBox), I decided to put the VM files on my external HDD.

I had managed to get Windows 7 installed and booted up, and decided to test USB connectivity. VirtualBox is a bit of a pain in the ass with USB connectivity if you don't know what you're doing. It took me several months (of trying on and off) to figure out how to get everything running just the way I wanted. Since I had my external HDD plugged in, I figured I'd test out USB connectivity with that device. As soon as I mounted the hard-drive, Windows 7 hung. I had to force a shutdown of the VM, and reboot. Once it rebooted, I tried again. It crashed again. I forced another shutdown.

What the hell was going on? I had installed a Windows 7 VM on another machine before (same setup), and it had worked just fine. I started to panic. And then it hit me. Of COURSE the VM was going to crap out. When you mount a USB device on a guest O/S (VM) using VirtualBox, it unmounts the same device on the host O/S (Ubuntu for me). The Windows 7 VM file was on my external HDD. As soon as I mounted the drive on Windows 7, Ubuntu no longer had access to it. This meant that VirtualBox no longer had access to it. If VirtualBox no longer had access to it, then it could no longer run the VM. Hence, the big-time crash. Total DUH moment here...

After the second attempt to mount the drive, it failed to mount even on Ubuntu. I unplugged it and plugged it back in several times, but to no avail. I don't know if this did the trick, but I tried mounting it on my husband's computer (Windows XP as the base O/S), which worked, so then I tried again on my machine and it mounted properly. Unfortunately, the VM file got corrupted, so I had to set up the Windows 7 VM from scratch (including re-installing the O/S). Fortunately, I hadn't really done much with the VM, so it was no biggie.

Moral of the story: watch what you're doing!!!

1 comment:

David S said...

How goes the Windows 7 RC experiment?