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Best way to copy a VM using VMServer

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  • Best way to copy a VM using VMServer

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm using VMWare VMServer 1.0.4 and I'd like to know what is the best way to copy a VM. Ideally, I'd like to build a server with a really basic build. Then copy it over and over agian every time I need another VM.

    Do I simply just copy the files created when first making the VM? Which files are essential? When I do copy those files and start up the VM, I'm asked "is this a copy or a move", but what else should I look for?

    Also, I'm concerned about what I need to change on the VM once it's been copied. I have to change the static IP and computer name, but what about all the other stuff in the registry that point to the original settings.

    These VMs are to be used in a production environment and there's very little room for error on my part.

    Thanks!
    Andre
    New York City

  • #2
    Re: Best way to copy a VM using VMServer

    Originally posted by Carbon_Filter View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm using VMWare VMServer 1.0.4 and I'd like to know what is the best way to copy a VM. Ideally, I'd like to build a server with a really basic build. Then copy it over and over agian every time I need another VM.

    Do I simply just copy the files created when first making the VM? Which files are essential? When I do copy those files and start up the VM, I'm asked "is this a copy or a move", but what else should I look for?
    Each VM is stored in it's own folder. You can merely copy the contents of each folder to duplicate VMs, however, if you are trying to conserve disk space, not all files are required. For instance, you can delete the NVRAM file. NVRAM holds the virtual BIOS for the computer which may have unique parameters you assigned that you don't necessarily want to replicate to other duplicated VMs. When you power on a VM that has no .NVRAM file, VMware will simply create a new one with factory defaults. By the way, while we are on the subject, it's a little known fact that the first time a VM is powered on, the default boot order in the .NVRAM file has the virtual CD-ROM first. But after that, VMware changes the .NVRAM file boot order so that the virtual disk is first in the boot order. If you want to keep the virtual cdrom as the first boot device, you'll have to manually change it back after the first boot.

    When you make a copy of a VM, you'll also want to change a thing or two in the .VMX file such as the VM name, the MAC address of the virtual NIC(s), and the UUID (although VMware will prompt to do this for you the first time you power on a VM that has experienced a change in folder locations). You'll always want to allow VMware to change the UUID of a VM when you are powering up a cloned VM.

    Originally posted by Carbon_Filter View Post
    Also, I'm concerned about what I need to change on the VM once it's been copied. I have to change the static IP and computer name, but what about all the other stuff in the registry that point to the original settings.
    Most questions are answered above with respect to VMware.

    As far as handling cloned information INSIDE THE GUEST VM, we're straying a little off topic but my suggestions would be to:
    1. I've used Sysinternals newsid.exe utility for many years with 100% success. This will create a new SID for Windows operating systems.
    2. Use Microsoft Sysprep and mini-setup to assist you in creating a unique Windows OS deployment. Sysprep will supercede Sysinternals Newsid.exe so if you're going to use Sysprep, don't bother with Newsid.exe
    3. It would be a good practice on a cloned Windows VM to scour the registry searching for the computer name. This will need to be replaced with the clone computer name.
    4. Limit the number of applications installed on a VM before it's cloned. For example, don't expect to clone a Microsoft AD Domain Controller, Microsoft Exchange, SQL, or Sharepoint server and expect the replica to be functional! There's way too much happening behind the scenes with those applications (and some others) for you to expect them to function once cloned. Install the complex enterprise applications AFTER you clone. You should only be using a base OS as a source clone with some basic cloning friendly applications installed such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, WinZip, Windows Support Tools, AdminPak.msi, MS Office, Service packs, hotfixes, etc.

    Originally posted by Carbon_Filter View Post
    These VMs are to be used in a production environment and there's very little room for error on my part.

    Thanks!
    Rapid deployment is both an art and a science, a lot of which has little or nothing to do with VMware inside the guest OS, but in the other hand, VMware can make the rapid deployment process more efficient (but can also cause problems if you don't fully understand and research the implications of what you are doing). Enterprise versions of VMware will actually streamline the duplication of VMs and guest OS a lot further what you're able to do with VMware Server or VMware Workstation. Right now with the products you have it's more of a manual process for you.

    Jas
    VCDX3 #34, VCDX4, VCDX5, VCAP4-DCA #14, VCAP4-DCD #35, VCAP5-DCD, VCPx4, vEXPERTx4, MCSEx3, MCSAx2, MCP, CCAx2, A+
    boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist
    My advice has no warranties. Follow at your own risk.

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    • #3
      Re: Best way to copy a VM using VMServer

      this is why VMware server is for playing around, and ESX is for production.
      create a template, and clone as many as you need in ESX - quick and simple
      ________
      Ferrari 637
      Last edited by DYasny; 6th March 2011, 18:17.
      Real stupidity always beats Artificial Intelligence (c) Terry Pratchett

      BA (BM), RHCE, MCSE, DCSE, Linux+, Network+

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      • #4
        Re: Best way to copy a VM using VMServer

        Originally posted by jasonboche View Post
        4. Limit the number of applications installed on a VM before it's cloned. For example, don't expect to clone a Microsoft AD Domain Controller, Microsoft Exchange, SQL, or Sharepoint server and expect the replica to be functional! There's way too much happening behind the scenes with those applications (and some others) for you to expect them to function once cloned. Install the complex enterprise applications AFTER you clone. You should only be using a base OS as a source clone with some basic cloning friendly applications installed such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, WinZip, Windows Support Tools, AdminPak.msi, MS Office, Service packs, hotfixes, etc.

        Jason, this is excellent advice and thank you. I just realized that I probably shouldn't have put the original server on the domain as well, because simply renaming it and giving it a new SID won't automatically add it to the domain...

        Thanks again.
        Andre
        New York City

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