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  • Question

  • So, I was thinking of using one PC as Windows Home Server and then using a second PC with 2 virtualized copies of Windows 7, one to serve as the media player (using Windows 7 Media Center) and the second as a general use PC.

    I am looking at an all-in-one PC such as this Lenovo A700. My thought was that I could have one copy of Windows running Media Center and outputting to my A/V system via HDMI and then simultaneously have a second copy of Windows running for general purpose PC work such as web surfing, word processing, etc.

    I've never played around with virtualization software, so I'm not sure whether my understanding of how it works would fit with my intended usage sceneario. Thanks in advance for any help!

    Sunday, January 30, 2011 7:49 PM

Answers

  • On Tue, 1 Feb 2011 02:38:23 +0000, EdwardLee wrote:

    Thank you for the reply BobZ2. Any particular virtualization software that you would recommend for my planned setup?

    I was content with Microsoft's Virtual PC for a while, but switched to VMWare because it
    supported USB. I think Virtual PC still doesn't support it.

    I've been happy with VMWare. I used their Server product for a while, because it is free.
    And then I decided I should pay them some money, so a bought one license for Workstation;
    I think the only actual advantage Workstation has over Server is support for shared
    folders (similar to network shares, but entirely within VMWare). I also use two copies of
    Player (on other machines).

    I have not done any real comparisons, so I can't make any strong recommendation.


    Thanks.

    • Marked as answer by EdwardLee Wednesday, February 2, 2011 5:26 AM
    Tuesday, February 1, 2011 8:33 PM

All replies

  • On Sun, 30 Jan 2011 19:49:41 +0000, EdwardLee wrote:

    So, I was thinking of using one PC as Windows Home Server and then using a second PC with 2 virtualized copies of Windows 7, one to serve as the media player (using Windows 7 Media Center) and the second as a general use PC.

    I am looking at an all-in-one PC such as this Lenovo A700 <http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6663009&SRCCODE=GOOGLEBASE&cm_mmc_o=VRqCjC7BBTkwCjCECjCE>. My thought was that I could have one copy of Windows running Media Center and outputting to my A/V system via HDMI and then simultaneously have a second copy of Windows running for general purpose PC work such as web surfing, word processing, etc.

    I've never played around with virtualization software, so I'm not sure whether my understanding of how it works would fit with my intended usage sceneario. Thanks in advance for any help!

    I'm sure you could do what you suggest, and I'm a big fan of virtual machines. One big
    advantage is isolation; problems in one virtual machine are way less likely to affect
    another, and you can completely rebuild one virtual machine without affecting any of the
    others. But virtual machines share resources (CPU, disk access, and memory), so
    performance can be an issue.

    Monday, January 31, 2011 10:37 PM
  • Thank you for the reply BobZ2. Any particular virtualization software that you would recommend for my planned setup?

    Thanks.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011 2:38 AM
  • On Tue, 1 Feb 2011 02:38:23 +0000, EdwardLee wrote:

    Thank you for the reply BobZ2. Any particular virtualization software that you would recommend for my planned setup?

    I was content with Microsoft's Virtual PC for a while, but switched to VMWare because it
    supported USB. I think Virtual PC still doesn't support it.

    I've been happy with VMWare. I used their Server product for a while, because it is free.
    And then I decided I should pay them some money, so a bought one license for Workstation;
    I think the only actual advantage Workstation has over Server is support for shared
    folders (similar to network shares, but entirely within VMWare). I also use two copies of
    Player (on other machines).

    I have not done any real comparisons, so I can't make any strong recommendation.


    Thanks.

    • Marked as answer by EdwardLee Wednesday, February 2, 2011 5:26 AM
    Tuesday, February 1, 2011 8:33 PM
  • Thank you BobZ2!
    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 5:26 AM
  • So, I was thinking of using one PC as Windows Home Server and then using a second PC with 2 virtualized copies of Windows 7, one to serve as the media player (using Windows 7 Media Center) and the second as a general use PC.
     
    I am looking at an all-in-one PC such as this Lenovo A700. My thought was that I could have one copy of Windows running Media Center and outputting to my A/V system via HDMI and then simultaneously have a second copy of Windows running for general purpose PC work such as web surfing, word processing, etc.
     
    I've never played around with virtualization software, so I'm not sure whether my understanding of how it works would fit with my intended usage sceneario. Thanks in advance for any help!
    I don't see what this question has to do with WHS. You have one box running WHS, so you have a WHS. Good!
     
    The second box I do not understand. You say "using a second PC with 2 virtualized copies of Windows 7". What is the host? Or did you mean one copy of Windows 7 as the host, and another as a guest. I hope so, because a virtualized Windows 7 machine will have an emulated video driver, which will not give you the kind of video performance that you desire.
     
    The virtuaization setup that I use is to have a Windows 7 HTPC as the host, and wun WHS as a guest inside it. I use VMWare Server for the virtualiztion, with the VM files located in a RAID1 eSata enclosure.
     

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 10:58 AM
  • >I was content with Microsoft's Virtual PC for a while, but switched to VMWare because it
    >supported USB. I think Virtual PC still doesn't support it.

    That's not correct, the latest version of Virtual PC (now called Windows Virtual PC) supports USB as long as the guest OS has the integration components installed and active.

     


    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 1:44 PM
  • Hi David. You're probably correct. The question is not directly about WHS. It was more about the device to be connected to WHS. So, my apologies if I started a discussion that went off topic. However, since you did give me more to think about, I guess I'm going to keep this going a bit longer... :-)

    I've never worked with virtual PCs before, so I may not be using the correct terminology. I have two PCs. My hope was that one could run WHS and the second could simultaneously be used as a regular PC (word processing, web surfing, whatever) and at the same time function as my home theater PC (most likely using Windows 7 Media Center). I have both financial and space constraits, which is why I don't have the ability to add a 3rd PC at this time. And, from what I read elsewhere, the setup that you describe (WHS and HTPC on the same box using virtualization) either did not work or was strongly discouraged.

    OK, now to my question... Are you saying that running one copy of Windows 7 as host and another as guest is different than running virtualized Windows 7 machines? If so, does the host/guest approach avoid the performance issue of emulated video that you referenced above? What software is used for the host/guest approach that you reference?

    Sorry if I am being dense on this! Guess I really need to get hands on and start trying this so I can understand better.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 4:10 PM
  • Hi David. You're probably correct. The question is not directly about WHS. It was more about the device to be connected to WHS. So, my apologies if I started a discussion that went off topic. However, since you did give me more to think about, I guess I'm going to keep this going a bit longer... :-)
    First some terminolgy: Virtual PC is an application (Microsoft's long-standing desktop virualization product). The virtual computers you are talking about are called virtual machines (VM's).
     
    Unless you are talking about fancy versions of virtualization (like Hyper-V) then a virtualization scenario requires a host PC, installed directly on the hardware, and a virtualization application (e.g. Virtual PC, VMWare Workstation, VMWare Server, VirtualBox..). Each virtual machine is like a "document" of the virtualization application. Any number of virtual machines may be running ("open") at the same time (within the resource limitations of the host).
     
    If you want to use this second box as an HTPC, I think you need to make the host machine the HTPC machine, and have the guest machine (VM) do other stuff. But how are you planning to access this virtual machine? You can do it via Remote Desktop, for that you need yet another computer.
     
    Running WHS as a virtual machine may be discouraged, but in my experience it works well. I have two Windows 7 machines, my HTPC and my workstation. The HTPC machine (quad-core, 8GB RAM) contains two virtual machines: the WHS, and an XP machine. I can access these virtual machines via Remote Desktop from my workstation (though it is rarely necessary to log into the WHS).
     

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 4:43 PM
  • On Wed, 2 Feb 2011 13:44:27 +0000, Bob Comer [MVP] wrote:

    I was content with Microsoft's Virtual PC for a while, but switched to VMWare because it
    supported USB. I think Virtual PC still doesn't support it.

    That's not correct, the latest version of Virtual PC (now called Windows Virtual PC) supports USB as long as the guest OS has the integration components installed and active.

    Thanks. I try to be careful and correct, but take comfort knowing others will catch any
    mistakes.


     

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 9:48 PM