Sunday, August 02, 2009

Home Server Project - Installing and testing Windows Home Server inside VMware on Windows

Linux is going on good and the server has stabilized on it much.

There are still few little little things like bluetooth streaming, web based media player and remote video monitoring etc are pending...little things? well could be not so little :)

I decided to give WHS (Windows Home Server) a try and only way to do it without worrying about connecting DVD drive was to go back to Windows XP. VMware can run on Linux but remember that its a headless machine :)

So changed boot preference in grub.conf and rebooted. Windows was quickly up.

Follow these tips for installing WHS inside VMware

- Create ISO image of the installation DVD. And assign this image as DVD image in VMware
- Choose Windows 2003 Server as VM type
- WHS failed to recognize default SCSI virtual hard disk so create a virtual IDE drive of 70GB or more. (See addendum below)
- My system has 2GB RAM and dual core-dual cpu Atom processor. I allocated 1GB RAM and two processors to the VM
- Do not choose to allocate all the space at once. WHS expects a drive more than 70GB in capacity to be there and preallocates 20GB partition for itself. And does not 20GB at once during setup so its better to do thin-provisioning for the drive.
- When the virtual machine first boots, enter BIOS setup make sure that the boot order is set to Hard disk first and then DVD drive. Else you will end up entering setup every time you reboot.

Remaining installation is straightforward. WHS is built on Windows 2003 engine so you will see that branding during setup and bootups. This may have changed in final revisions.

I was quiet skeptical about running Linux and WHS inside VMware on Windows XP. However Intel Atom330 was quiet tolerant to the load. CPU utilisation was under 20 when both guest OSes were up and running. During installation the utilisation went up and stayed between 60-70 for most of the time, but never peaked to 100%.

All was well till I installed bluetooth dongle driver and logitech webcam driver. After rebooting XP is into rolling reboots, even if safe mode is chosen.

Finally gave up and back to good old Linux now :)


VMware has provided a SCSI driver if you want to use its SCSI drives for Windows 2003 or XP virtual machines. This is a floppy image so download it and edit VM properties to connect the image to VM (3.5" 1.44MB drive). This should detect virtual VMware SCSI drives during installation.

You can download the image from here -