VMWare Snapshot inspirations

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

I received the following tips on the usage of VMWare Snapshots from fellow SharePoint MVP, Dan Holme. I thought it might be helpful to others…


      Firstly, keep in mind that SYSPREP does MORE than just “new sid”.  If you’re in a super-simple environment (i.e. 2-machine lab), newsid.exe is fine. In production you must also be taking care of other ‘unique identifiers’ such as WSUS client id, for example.  Be wary of using newsid.exe.  What I do on my VMs is bake a SYSPREP.INF script into the system, where all configuration is set except for anything I *want* to configure e.g. machine name.  I run sysprep, shut down, and snapshot.  The first time I return to THAT (sysprepped) snapshot, sysprep runs unattended and life is great. I then snapshot the “new” system (with name and uniqueness) as a ‘fresh’ capture of that machine.

Here’s some inspiration for newbies to snapshots:

This was my WS2008 RC0 system that I had set up for sessions at Windows Connections in Vegas last November.  You can see where I turn the server (sysprepped) into a DC then a separate snapshot with all the sample accounts (I use MS’s sample accounts for MS content and my own ‘fun’ names for Connections).

This is my standard Vista VM… you can see the two snapshots that “match up” with the above (to answer someone’s comment about working with multiple machines)

Note contoso.com RC0/Office 2007 snapshot matches with “with clients” snapshot on WS2008 RC0 system

Note WSS START (paused/already started) snapshot matches with “WSS Baseline” snapshot on WS2008 RC0 system

And this WS2003 VM branch is used to spawn DCs for clients as well as dev/testing/demo for an application we built called MyGroups.  You can see how I’m leveraging the “Sysprepped” snapshot here.



Linked clones

Another great feature of VMware is LINKED CLONES.  The “Sysprepped” snapshot above has linked clones, which use the same “baseline” disk then create what VPC calls “differencing disks” (except VMware does it much more easily!).  The joy of linked clones is that you can be running them both / all at the *same time*, so you can have 2+ servers running, for example, off of the “Sysprepped” base, with only one instance of the ‘giant’ baseline disk for Windows.

Important tips

Running Server (or Vista) in VMware, always

  1. Set the mouse theme to None (turn off Aero)
  2. Turn off mouse shadow
  3. Install VMware tools for better drivers
  4. Turn hw acceleration in the guest OS display properties to full-on. 

Note that sysprep ‘resets’ the mouse and video drivers to ‘basic’, so you can either

  1. Reinstall VMware tools after sysprepping or
  2. go into device manager and update the driver (choose ‘pick manually’ and pick VMware’s drivers from the list).





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Cornelius J. van Dyk

Born and raised in South Africa during the 70's I got my start in computers when a game on my Sinclair ZX Spectrum crashed, revealing it's BASIC source code. The ZX had a whopping 48K of memory which was considered to be a lot in the Commodore Vic20 era, but more importantly, it had BASIC built into the soft touch keyboard. Teaching myself to program, I coded my first commercial program at age 15.

After graduating high school at 17, I joined the South African Air Force, graduating the Academy and becoming a Pilot with the rank of First Lieutenant by age 20. After serving my country for six years, I made my way back into computer software.

Continuing my education, I graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Computer Training Institute before joining First National Bank where my work won the Smithsonian Award for Technological Innovation in the field of Banking and Insurance. Soon I met Will Coleman from Amdahl SA, who introduced me to a little known programming language named Huron/ObjectStar. As fate would have it, this unknown language and Y2K brought me to the USA in 1998.

I got involved with SharePoint after playing around with the Beta for SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Leaving my career at Rexnord to become a consultant in 2004, I was first awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for SharePoint in 2005, becoming only the 9th MVP for WSS at the time. I fulfilled a life long dream by pledging allegiance to the Flag as a US citizen in 2006. I met the love of my life and became a private consultant in 2008. I was honored to receive my ninth MVP award for SharePoint Server in 2013.

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