Regenerate.IT – HP dc7700 to VMware Player on Asus

Regenerate could mean to bring back to life. The HP dc7700 machine gets new life by being able to run again as a virtual machine in my VMware host. My neighbour came by last night in between the bursts of rain. It turns out that their email is not via browser, as I imagined but is through Microsoft Outlook 2003. Once they demonstrated that Outlook was able to get new emails in the virtual machine – I knew what I had to do.

First off, they had forgotten the Optus email password, and it is stored in the credentials for Outlook. It was a relatively easy matter to extract the password. However what then to do with the 2.5GB of emails that were saved in two personal folder files. I can give them the pst files, but then they need to configure Outlook in order to access them.

Anyway, I have the virtual machine running, so I should be able to set it up so that they can run it on one of their other machines. They brought over to me, an Asus laptop with Windows 8 on it. The disk has plenty of space on it, so should be fine.

I installed VMware Player version 7.0.0 onto the Asus laptop. It required an email address before the installation can occur – mainly just for adding to their mailing list. This VMware Player is free for non-commercial use. I am sure that VMware will send timely emails asking if you wish to upgrade to another version, for a fee I expect.

I had previously run the coldclone411 again – in order to generate the files suitable for use on other virtualizing software like VMware Player. It does this by creating virtual disk image files that are a maximum size of 2GB. Some older windows versions had limits on file size, so doing this allows this virtual machine to run on even the older versions of Windows.

My new VMware ESXi 5.5 host server can handle virtual disks as large as 2TB, so the 80GB disk from the HP dc7700 is not a problem. My old server however is version 4.0 and its file size limit is based on the block size of the VMFS datastore. For a 1MB block size, this meant a maximum virtual disk size of 256GB – still more than sufficient.

To continue, after the VMware Player was installed, I then copied the virtual machine files to the laptop – this took a few hours. Then I added a virtual machine to VMware Player, pointed it to existing files and it was registered. I also added a shared folder, in case they want to transfer files from the virtual machine to the laptop.

VMware Player was run, then the virtual machine was powered on. After a number of prompts about hardware being recognized, etc – a reboot was needed, then I installed the VMware Tools – which gives better integration between the virtual machine and the host laptop – improves performance also.

Just a short time ago, the neighbour came by and picked up the laptop – she is very happy.

[PS] The neighbour is using Optus email because they originally joined Optus for their internet connection. I suggested that they should consider moving to another platform, like hotmail or gmail. The reason for this is portability – they can access those email systems from anywhere and not be limited to having to be at home to get access to email. The other thing is hardware security. If someone has access to your computer physically, there are a number of things that can be done – not the least of which is to find out internet passwords, emails etc. It is surprising what people leave on the computers. I remember many years ago, driving through West Ryde to see a relative. Outside a newly renovated Elders shopfront was a number of old PC’s – of course I picked up a couple and was interested to find that the PC’s still contained hard disk drives. The data on the disk drives was obviously old – several years actually, but it is still something that should not be thrown out. Those drives of course were securely erased before I reused them, but you really only have my word for that.