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  • Dave

    If you are itching to try out WHS Vail, but don’t have an extra box to run it on, a good choice is to install it in a Virtual Machine.  Also, since the Vail Refresh isn’t ready for prime time yet, using a virtual environment is well worth considering.


    You can run Vail on VMware Server, VMware Player, and VirtualBox for free, or VMware Workstation which requires a license. Here we take a look at installing it on VMware Player, and if you want to run it in a different product, check out the links at the end of this article.


    First let’s take a look at what you’ll need to get started.

    • WHS Vail Beta ISO
    • VMware Player
    • 64-bit Windows computer capable of hardware virtualization
    • 4 GB of RAM so your Host and Client run smoothly. You could probably get away with a machine with 2GB of RAM as Vail requires 1GB minimum, but you’ll notice lack of decent performance because the VM uses the Host machine’s RAM.

    If you’re not sure if your computer is capable of Hardware Virtualization, you can run either SecurAble or the MS hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool. Both are free and don’t require installation and work equally well.




    Install VMware Player


    If you don’t already have it, download and install VMware Player following the install wizard defaults. VMware Player is free but you’ll be required to register with them first.




    Setup VMware Player for Vail


    You need to configure some settings in VMware Player before installing Vail from the ISO image. Create a new virtual machine, and when the wizard starts select I will install the operating system later.




    For the Guest OS select Windows Server 2008 x64 or Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 and click Next.




    Give your virtual machine a name like WHS Vail and go to the next step of the wizard. Then for Specify Disk Capacity set it to 160 GB which is the minimum.




    The entire 160 GB won’t be taken up right away, but when installing Vail it needs to see a 160GB drive otherwise you’ll see the following error message.




    When you get to the Ready to Create Virtual Machine window make sure everything looks correct. If not you can go back and change it. We need to make some further settings on the VMs hardware.




    What is probably the most important part is setting the Network Connection to Bridged. This will make the VM appear as an actual physical machine on your network and actually connect other VMs or physical machines. Which is definitely the coolest part because you can can install the Connector software on those machines and use the new Dashboard and Launchpad features.




    Another thing you'll want to change is the amount of memory you dedicate to the server VM. The minimum is 1 GB but you can bump it up to whatever you think your system can handle. Remember that the VM will use the Host machines physical memory, so keep that in mind when determining how much to allocate. For our test we bumped it up to 2 GB.




    For the CD/DVD drive Connection setting, select Use ISO image file and browse to the location of your VailInstallDVD.iso file you downloaded from Microsoft Connect. You could burn the ISO and use the physical drive if you want, but just selecting the ISO saves some steps.




    After you've made all the appropriate hardware settings you'll get an overview of the new machine, if everything looks right click Finish.




    Now that everything is ready to roll start up the VM.




    If you get a software updates screen just click Remind Me Later...we'll install the VMware tools later.




    Your new Vail VM will start and you can run through the Installation Process. If you've never installed Vail before check out this screenshot tour of the installation process. This article was written before the Vail RC or Refresh, but their are only minor differences for the install process that are self explanatory.




    While Vail is installing, VMware Player will prompt you to install the VMware Tools, select Remind Me Later.




    When Vail installs your VM will restart several times during the process which is normal, and you'll need to enter some basic information like your country, Time/Date, User Name and Password...etc. The amount of time it takes to complete will vary, but in our experience it's been around 45 minutes.




    After the install has completed you will get a message telling you your new Virtual Vail Server is ready to use!




    You can start looking around at the new features in the server at this point, but you'll need to restart it again so you can log in properly. After the reboot you will get the Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE to log on message. To do that in VMware, from the toolbar select the Virtual Machine dropdown menu and Send Ctrl+Alt+Del.




    Now you can log into the Vail VM with the credentials you entered during the install.




    After logging in you can check out the Dashboard, Add Users, RDP into it..etc. It will act just like it would if you were running it on an actual box on your network.




    Install VMware Tools


    The final thing we need to do is install VMware Tools to make the experience more fluid. From the VMware Toolbar click Virtual Machine>>Install VMware Tools.




    AutoPlay will come up on the server, just click Run setup.exe.




    Just run through the installer using the Typical setup type.




    After that's done another reboot will be required to complete the install of VMware Tools.




    You're Done! Now you can start using Vail just as if it were a physical machine running on your network. You can RDP into it, connect physical and other Virtual Machines, and start having fun seeing what the new version of WHS has to offer.




    Since the Vail Beta is free and VMware Player is free, there is really no reason not to start getting familiar with the new version if your a WHS enthusiast. If you are looking to install Vail virtually on other VMware Products or Oracle's VirtualBox, head over to How-To Geek and check out these full tutorials:


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