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How to virtualize a WHS2011 install into Hyper-V easily


Sorta Oldguy
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I've been bothering everyone trying to get advice on various aspects of how to virtualize my WHS2011 installation into Hyper-V on Windows Server 2011. I'm finally hoping to contribute something.

 

In one thread I inquired about how to shrink the installation partition so the hoped-for vhd I could in theory produce would not take up too much space on my SSD.

http://homeserversho...2011-partition/

 

After spending much of the past week on and off unsuccessfully trying to get my WHS installation turned into a Hyper-V VM, I was willing to try a fresh install of WHS on Hyper-V if only I could find a way to move the users, settings, and id's of client computers over so all the old backups would not be useless.

http://homeserversho...lient-settings/

 

Well, I stumbled across a solution that solved both of the above pretty neatly. It's XenConverter 2.5 Available for free from Citrix here:

http://citrix.com/do...conversion.html

It's probably worth downloading and looking at the docs, although it's pretty easy to use.

 

What you do is download it and install it on the running physical machine you want to convert. Then you run it and it creates a package in the Open Virtualization Format that includes a VHD and two other files. Here's a quick explanation of the format. http://en.wikipedia....lization_Format

 

Of course, Hyper-V won't import the resulting configuration files. That would be too easy. I had actually run XenConverter a few days ago, but wasted so much time trying other stuff that I didn't try using the resulting VHD until tonight. It turned out to be amazingly easy.

 

You have to install XenConverter, but it's painless. Running XenConverter is time consuming but you don't need to do much other than tell it what folder to put the output files in. It also has the other virtue of compressing the partition while it's processing it, so the resulting VHD is much smaller that you expect. In another thread I had complained about only being able to reduce my WHS partition from 160GB to 85GB using some tricks. XenConverter created a VHD that was only 29GB :)

 

After giving up on all the other methods I had tried and searching in vain for some utility to convert the OVF files to Hyper-V format, I tried just creating a garden variety Hyper-V VM. Dynamic memory, starting with 4GB RAM. Attached the Virtual Switch Hyper V Manager creates. Told it I would attach a VHD later. After the VM was created, I copied the VHD produced by XenConverter to the folder containing the VM configuration files and attached it to the VM under the first IDE virtual controller.

 

Booted up and, amazingly, it worked on the first try. It understandably could not install the virtual switch and complained about it. In the actions menu, I inserted the Hyper-V Integration CD and ran that. After a good bit of grinding away and a reboot, it had installed the Hyper-V switch and seems to be working normally, except that it cannot find the raid volumes or other drives that it had been using for storage. I think (hope) I'll be able to find out how to connect those. If anyone knows how to do that, I would appreciate advice on it. Do not claim much expertise with Server 2012.

 

I have to get up and take the wife birdwatching in the morning so I guess I'll have to call it a night.

 

 

Just to steer people away from some things that turned out to be time wasters, here's what I tried that was either a dead end or not worth the trouble in the end.

  1. disk2vhd -- this is an old utility that will read a partition and create a vhd. It did that fine but I never could get the resulting vhd's to work. WHS creates 2 partitions when it installs and I wasn't sure what to do with the two in Hyper V so I tried various combinations of them but never could get it to work.
  2. I even tried VMware's ESXi. Blew away the Server 2012 installation and got it working, although I hadn't imported the WHS installation, but then found that there was no way to use my NTFS formatted disks with it. Someone else here uses it, but it wasn't worth my trouble redoing all those disks. Fortunately, Server 2012 Backup recovered the installation flawlessly.
  3. Tonight I was toying with the idea of XenServer. There's a free version. But again, it won't deal with NTFS disks that you already have installed. They'd have to be reformatted. It seemed fairly Windows friendly which is what reminded my that I had run Xenconverter a few days ago and hadn't tried the VHD it produced..

More puzzling than anything was that I found what looked like a Hyper-V VM on a hard drive that I use for backup. The files were from August 2011 when I first installed WHS. I imported that into Hyper V and it worked. Even had an older version of the integration tools installed. It appears to have been created before I activated WHS, but how the hell I created it is beyond me. Maybe it's early-onset dementia.

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Am making slow progress on this. WHS runs in a VM, but it couldn't see the RAID Volumes where it's folders were. I found instructions for passing the drives through to it. What you do is take the drives (Volumes) offline in Disk Management by right clicking on the drive. Then create a scsi adapter in the VM settings and attach the drives to them.

 

That worked fine with the volume containing the client computer backups and the backups worked last night even though the Dashboard claimed the clients were offline.

 

For whatever reason, WHS thinks that the second volume that is passed through is raw and needs to be initialized and formatted. I quickly took that offline and removed it from the VM with no harm done. The only theory I can come up with for the difference is that the first RAID volume is 2048GB while the second is 2144GB and maybe that bigger number won't work in the VM although it worked fine before. Any other ideas on this would be welcome as having both volumes back would simplify things enormously.

 

BTW, I was able to download the new version of IRST from the Intel website and install it on Server 2012 so it will monitor the health of the Intel Raid volumes. It's a little different from the way it ran on the straight WHS where there was a service and an icon in the system tray. This puts an icon in the system tray, but no service is installed. However, you can run the IRST program and it allows management and monitoring of the RAID setup.

Edited by Sorta Oldguy
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One other advantage of using Server 2012 is a better driver for my Brother 7340 printer. On WHS, I could share it, but you didn't get all the config features, say manual feed for printing envlopes. It would claim that it would use manual feed but would always use the tray. In Server 2012, you see the same printer setup remotely that you see with the printer plugged directly into the laptop,

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