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Cold Boot to Virtual Machine

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by Thomas M., Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Thomas M.

    Thomas M. Flightless Bird

    XP SP3

    I am looking for a solution that will allow me to seemlessly cold boot my PC
    into a virtual machine. I am currently using XP SP3, but I would be
    interested in solutions for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Are there any software
    solutions out there will can provide this functionality for these operating
    systems?

    I would also be interested in hearing about what people like in terms of
    software to mount virtual hard drives.

    --
    Thanks for any help that you can offer!

    --Tom
     
  2. VanguardLH

    VanguardLH Flightless Bird

    Thomas M. wrote:

    > XP SP3
    >
    > I am looking for a solution that will allow me to seemlessly cold boot my PC
    > into a virtual machine. I am currently using XP SP3, but I would be
    > interested in solutions for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Are there any software
    > solutions out there will can provide this functionality for these operating
    > systems?
    >
    > I would also be interested in hearing about what people like in terms of
    > software to mount virtual hard drives.


    So what is it that you really want to do? Currently you are probably
    booting Windows and then manually loading a virtual machine. "Cold boot
    a PC into a virtual machine" is a completely different animal. That
    means you want to load a hypervisor first and then load an OS.
    Microsoft has their HyperV product (free for personal use) that runs all
    operatings systems as guests in a virtual machine. I've never used it
    to know if it can be configured to automatically load some of its
    defined VMs.

    However, do you have the hardware requirements for HyperV? Besides the
    memory needed for HyperV (which is an OS itself), you will need the
    amount of memory that you want for each virtual machine that you will be
    running concurrently. You'll also need a very fast CPU to accomodate
    the load of the VMs. Since the Windows XP would be running in a VM, and
    because all hardware is probably emulated (except the CPU), you probably
    can't run graphics intensive apps inside a guest, like games. If HyperV
    supports it, having multiple cores where one can be assigned to a VM
    allows for a speedier VM. So, for example, you'll probably want a
    4-core CPU where you can assign 1 or 2 cores to HyperV and a core for
    each VM.

    http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper-V
     
  3. Thomas M.

    Thomas M. Flightless Bird

    "VanguardLH" wrote:

    > Thomas M. wrote:
    >
    > > XP SP3
    > >
    > > I am looking for a solution that will allow me to seemlessly cold boot my PC
    > > into a virtual machine. I am currently using XP SP3, but I would be
    > > interested in solutions for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Are there any software
    > > solutions out there will can provide this functionality for these operating
    > > systems?
    > >
    > > I would also be interested in hearing about what people like in terms of
    > > software to mount virtual hard drives.

    >
    > So what is it that you really want to do? Currently you are probably
    > booting Windows and then manually loading a virtual machine. "Cold boot
    > a PC into a virtual machine" is a completely different animal. That
    > means you want to load a hypervisor first and then load an OS.
    > Microsoft has their HyperV product (free for personal use) that runs all
    > operatings systems as guests in a virtual machine. I've never used it
    > to know if it can be configured to automatically load some of its
    > defined VMs.
    >
    > However, do you have the hardware requirements for HyperV? Besides the
    > memory needed for HyperV (which is an OS itself), you will need the
    > amount of memory that you want for each virtual machine that you will be
    > running concurrently. You'll also need a very fast CPU to accomodate
    > the load of the VMs. Since the Windows XP would be running in a VM, and
    > because all hardware is probably emulated (except the CPU), you probably
    > can't run graphics intensive apps inside a guest, like games. If HyperV
    > supports it, having multiple cores where one can be assigned to a VM
    > allows for a speedier VM. So, for example, you'll probably want a
    > 4-core CPU where you can assign 1 or 2 cores to HyperV and a core for
    > each VM.
    >
    > http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx
    > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper-V


    You are correct in that currently I boot into Windows XP, and then load a
    virtual machine and wait for it to boot. I want to bypass the first login
    and go straight to the virtual machine. In other words, it should look more
    or less like a normal boot into Windows, but at the end of the process I end
    up in a virtual machine instead of having to start the VM separately.

    I realize that this takes some horse power in terms of CPU and memory, but I
    should have that on both counts.

    Currently, this is just something that I am researching as an option for my
    mom's machine. She doesn't do any gaming. She mostly uses email, Word, and
    IE for reading news online and ordering from places like Amazon.com. I've
    started a project to lock down her machine and I've done a lot in terms of
    security already, but I wanted to look into putting her into a virtual
    environment as an extra measure of safety. The requirement for booting
    directly into the VM is intended to avoid causing her confusion by making it
    as transparent to her as possible. I realize that this makes it more complex
    to setup, but hopefully the transparency will make it easier for her to use.

    My reasoning is that as she ages and becomes more prone to being fooled into
    clicking links, she is more likely to have her machine compromised, which
    could lead to problems with identity theft and the like. In a virtual
    environment, most exploits would vanish when the virtual machine powers off.
    I do understand that in a virtual enviroment there can be links through to
    the underlying hardware and OS, so going virtual would not eliminate all
    security concerns, but it should reduce those concerns considerably.

    I don't know if virtualizing to this degree is worth doing on her
    machine--maybe it's overkill--but I figured that I wouldn't be able to make
    that determination until I understand what it takes to pull off this degree
    of virtualization. Once I have a good grip on how this kind of thing can be
    achieved, I'll be able to make an educated decision on whether or not it is
    worth the effort.

    As an aside, I work in IT and so wanted to research this issue in order to
    increase my own knowledge and, at least to some small degree, further my
    career.

    --
    Thanks for any help that you can offer!

    --Tom
     
  4. C.Joseph Drayton

    C.Joseph Drayton Flightless Bird

    On 6/18/2010 12:10 AM, Thomas M. wrote:
    > "VanguardLH" wrote:
    >
    >> Thomas M. wrote:
    >>
    >>> XP SP3
    >>>
    >>> I am looking for a solution that will allow me to seemlessly cold boot my PC
    >>> into a virtual machine. I am currently using XP SP3, but I would be
    >>> interested in solutions for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Are there any software
    >>> solutions out there will can provide this functionality for these operating
    >>> systems?
    >>>
    >>> I would also be interested in hearing about what people like in terms of
    >>> software to mount virtual hard drives.

    >>
    >> So what is it that you really want to do? Currently you are probably
    >> booting Windows and then manually loading a virtual machine. "Cold boot
    >> a PC into a virtual machine" is a completely different animal. That
    >> means you want to load a hypervisor first and then load an OS.
    >> Microsoft has their HyperV product (free for personal use) that runs all
    >> operatings systems as guests in a virtual machine. I've never used it
    >> to know if it can be configured to automatically load some of its
    >> defined VMs.
    >>
    >> However, do you have the hardware requirements for HyperV? Besides the
    >> memory needed for HyperV (which is an OS itself), you will need the
    >> amount of memory that you want for each virtual machine that you will be
    >> running concurrently. You'll also need a very fast CPU to accomodate
    >> the load of the VMs. Since the Windows XP would be running in a VM, and
    >> because all hardware is probably emulated (except the CPU), you probably
    >> can't run graphics intensive apps inside a guest, like games. If HyperV
    >> supports it, having multiple cores where one can be assigned to a VM
    >> allows for a speedier VM. So, for example, you'll probably want a
    >> 4-core CPU where you can assign 1 or 2 cores to HyperV and a core for
    >> each VM.
    >>
    >> http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx
    >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper-V

    >
    > You are correct in that currently I boot into Windows XP, and then load a
    > virtual machine and wait for it to boot. I want to bypass the first login
    > and go straight to the virtual machine. In other words, it should look more
    > or less like a normal boot into Windows, but at the end of the process I end
    > up in a virtual machine instead of having to start the VM separately.
    >
    > I realize that this takes some horse power in terms of CPU and memory, but I
    > should have that on both counts.
    >
    > Currently, this is just something that I am researching as an option for my
    > mom's machine. She doesn't do any gaming. She mostly uses email, Word, and
    > IE for reading news online and ordering from places like Amazon.com. I've
    > started a project to lock down her machine and I've done a lot in terms of
    > security already, but I wanted to look into putting her into a virtual
    > environment as an extra measure of safety. The requirement for booting
    > directly into the VM is intended to avoid causing her confusion by making it
    > as transparent to her as possible. I realize that this makes it more complex
    > to setup, but hopefully the transparency will make it easier for her to use.
    >
    > My reasoning is that as she ages and becomes more prone to being fooled into
    > clicking links, she is more likely to have her machine compromised, which
    > could lead to problems with identity theft and the like. In a virtual
    > environment, most exploits would vanish when the virtual machine powers off.
    > I do understand that in a virtual enviroment there can be links through to
    > the underlying hardware and OS, so going virtual would not eliminate all
    > security concerns, but it should reduce those concerns considerably.
    >
    > I don't know if virtualizing to this degree is worth doing on her
    > machine--maybe it's overkill--but I figured that I wouldn't be able to make
    > that determination until I understand what it takes to pull off this degree
    > of virtualization. Once I have a good grip on how this kind of thing can be
    > achieved, I'll be able to make an educated decision on whether or not it is
    > worth the effort.
    >
    > As an aside, I work in IT and so wanted to research this issue in order to
    > increase my own knowledge and, at least to some small degree, further my
    > career.
    >


    Hello Thomas,

    The statement "In a virtual environment, most exploits would vanish when
    the virtual machine powers off." is not quite correct. The VHD (the hard
    disk for the virtual machine) would still contain the mal-ware.

    I do see what you are trying to accomplish, and I think what might suit
    your needs better is something along the lines of Returnil (see web site
    below).

    http://www.returnilvirtualsystem.com/rvs-home-free

    What Returnil does is create a shadow (for lack of a better term)
    system. When it is active, nothing is written to your system drive. It
    all occurs on the shadow drive. With their system, when you shut down
    the computer, the mal-ware is gone. There are a couple of downsides to
    this system. The main one is that if you want to REALLY install an
    application onto the system drive, you must disable Returnil, do the
    install then reactivate Returnil.

    The other problem is that some apps write their data to the folder that
    the app is installed in, the end result is that the data would also be
    lost when you shut down. I do work with people who are NOT computer
    friendly and have set up Returnil for them. To make their computer
    easier to use, I created a second partition on their disk then re-direct
    the "My Documents" folder to the second partition. I also disable
    Returnil creating a persistent virtual drive. I then went into each of
    their apps and set the default folder to "My Documents".

    Note that this is not perfect since some app store their setting in
    "Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data". Applications like
    X-Setup Pro can help you to re-direct other need folders that are found
    in the user's profile folder.

    Sincerely,
    C.Joseph Drayton, Ph.D. AS&T

    CSD Computer Services

    Web site: http://csdcs.site90.net/
    E-mail: c.joseph@csdcs.site90.net
     

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