Archive for November, 2008

Build a network boot disk for VMware guest VMs

November 25th, 2008

A person recently asked me via Email how to create a bootable MS-DOS diskette with networking capability for use in VMware guest VMs. Rather than privately isolate the knowledge in an email conversation, I figured the least I could do after going through the steps is to share it in a blog post so that it may be cataloged in Google for everyone’s benefit.

There are several methods to creating a network boot disk. Some easier. Some more difficult. In the interest of time and leveraging the innovation of others, I’ll turbo charge today’s procedure by using Bart’s Network Boot Disk. Frankly I’m not interested in modifying network boot disk files by hand which was one of the purposes behind Bart’s solution – making the creation of boot disks easier. Note, to use this procedure, you admit to owning a Microsoft Windows 98 operating system license.

Here are the steps:

  1. Create the boot disk by following the instructions here.
  2. Download the BFD full package v1.0.7 file.
  3. Extract to a temporary folder (I’ll use c:\temp\ for this example).
  4. Good news – the driver used by VMware (the AMD PCNet Family Ethernet Adapter NDIS is already included in the default list of drivers bundled in the file above. This is a perfect working example of why VMware chose to virtualize the AMD PCNet Family adapter. It’s ubiquitous nature allows it to be supported by every VMware guest operating system on the support list. By virtue of the fact that VMware supports most of the popular/common Windows and Linux operating systems, you’ll find that VMware networking works with nifty utilities like Bart right out of the box.
  5. As the instructions indicate, open a command prompt, go to the BFD directory (in this example, c:\temp\) and execute the command bfd msnet and follow the instructions on screen. This step will create the actual floppy diskette.
  6. The network boot diskette is ready to use with VMware. Use it to boot a guest VM.
  7. I found that booting from the #3 menu item labeled “Boot without emm386” worked well with ESX 3.5.0 Update 3:
    11-25-2008 4-59-37 PM
  8. Accept the following default prompts assuming they are applicable to your environment:
    11-25-2008 5-05-03 PM 11-25-2008 5-05-40 PM 11-25-2008 5-05-49 PM 11-25-2008 5-05-57 PM
  9. Configure the “Logon as”, “Password”, “Workgroup”, and “Domain” as necessary:
    11-25-2008 5-06-32 PM
  10. The network boot disk will complete its boot up process, connecting your MS-DOS VM to the network with the given parameters. A quick net view displays the shares of a Windows server on the network:
    11-25-2008 5-08-17 PM
  11. A net use command maps a C: network drive to the network Windows server share and a dir command displays the share contents:
    11-25-2008 5-08-46 PM

Well that’s about it. At this point, you’re on the network, ready to dump or capture an image, or whatever it is that you needed a network boot disk for. Don’t forget you can transform the physical floppy diskette into a virtual floppy image by using a utility such as WinImage by Gilles Vollant. This allows the VM to boot much more quickly and it allows you to avoid the use of the dying technology of physical floppy disks altogether.

Update: Roger Lund posted another method on his blog using the Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk that looks just as quick and easy.  Check out Roger’s solution.

Please join us for the Q4 2008 Minneapolis Area VMware Users Group meeting

November 25th, 2008

I apologize in advance for the poor formatting of this. It didn’t copy/paste very well from MS Word and I don’t have time to make it all pretty like.

Please join us for the Q4 2008 Minneapolis Area VMware Users Group meeting

Jason Boche, Minneapolis area VMUG leader – Email:

Friday December 19th, 2008 1 – 4:00 PM

1:00 – 1:15 General business

1:15 – 2:00 Presentation: Rob Schwartz/Ken Pizzo, EMC: “Optimizing Your VMware Backup Environments”

2:00 – 2:10 Break

2:10 – 2:55 Case Study: Tom Grahek/Derek Clark, Fair Isaac: “Securing Offshore Support Using VMware”

2:55 – 3:05 Break

3:05 – 3:50 Case Study: Cory Miller, Schwans: “Leverage VMware for Disaster Recovery and VDI”

3:50 – 4:00 Door prizes, Q & A, closing

Stick around to win fantastic door prizes from EMC and VMware, plus two books from virtualization authors David Marshall, Stephen Beaver, and Jason McCarty!

(Please bring business cards to enter your name in the door prize drawings)

Meeting Sponsors:

Location and snacks provided by EMC – Storage innovation where information lives.

Door prizes provided by EMC and VMware – Storage innovation where information lives. – The authority on x86 virtualization. Period.

Virtualization authors David Marshall, Stephen Beaver, and Jason McCarty


Doubletree Hotel

1500 Park Place Blvd.

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416 USA

Phone: 952-542-8600

VMware User Group Event Registration:

VMware User Group Membership Registration (subscribe):

Confused about Citrix XenServer 5 support for Windows Server 2008

November 25th, 2008

I read a news item here stating Citrix XenServer 5 lacks support for Windows Server 2008 as a guest operating system. I decided to check it out for myself.

Citrix reveals here that indeed Windows Server 2008 guests are not supported in XenServer 5. However, the What’s new in Citrix XenServer 5 page explains that XenServer 5 is tuned for Windows and Windows Server 2008 guest support has been added through the all important Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP).

Confused? I am.

VMware supports Windows Server 2008 for many of its products and VMware is very clear about it. VMware’s guest OS support for all VMware products can be found in the Guest Operating System Installation Guide.

Binary Sudoku

November 22nd, 2008

Binary Sudoku

Get the most out of your laptop battery when traveling

November 22nd, 2008

I typically bring my laptop on the plane to use for working or watching a DVD. I don’t like to be interrupted by losing my battery mid flight. Here are some of my best practices for getting the most out of my laptop battery:

  1. Make sure the laptop batteries are charged before going to the airport. Don’t necessarily count on finding AC power at the airport to take care of this. You may also not have time at the airport to fully charge a dead battery. Trickle charges can take a few hours.
  2. Arrive early enough to find one of the few AC outlets at the gate. Top off the charge on your batteries before boarding the plane. AC outlets are often tucked away along the windows, in the floor, built into vertical support beams. If you can’t find an available outlet at your gate, go to the gate across the hall or to the next gate over and look for an AC outlet you can use there while still within earshot range of the boarding calls at your gate. I’ve also seen outlets in airport restaurants – relax, have some food, charge your laptop.
  3. If you’re going to use the laptop while waiting at the gate, make sure it’s on AC power instead of using batteries.
  4. Before boarding the plane, put the laptop in suspend mode instead of shutting it down. When you power the laptop back on when seated on the plane, the laptop comes up instantly in the OS rather than chewing up battery during a 5-10 minute boot up process
  5. Limit the use of USB devices, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM. These peripherals chew up battery at a fast rate.
  6. Limit the use of disk intense applications such as defrag or virus scan. This also chews up batteries at a fast rate.
  7. Limit the use of processor intense applications which will cause the CPU and fans to draw more power.
  8. Run the display at the dimmest setting possible.
  9. Turn off the Wireless and Blue tooth radio.
  10. Bring an extra travel battery that is obviously already charged. The last couple of laptops I’ve had I had the extra travel battery installed along with the regular battery at the same time. It makes the laptop a little bulkier and heavier, but for me the extended battery time (5-6+ hours) is worth it.
  11. When you’re done using the laptop on board the plane, if you’re critically low on battery, shut down the OS or hibernate as opposed to putting it into suspend mode. Suspend mode still draws minimal amounts of power and critical bits may still be active in RAM. If you go into suspend and then the laptop battery dies completely, the plug/power will have been basically been pulled from the OS and you’ll lose any unsaved information you were actively working on. It’s just plain not good to yank the power from your computer.

Where is Diane Greene?

November 22nd, 2008

I haven’t heard any news from or about Diane Greene, the former CEO and co-founder of VMware, since her departure from VMware in July 2008.  Despite her termination, nobody can argue that Diane played a large role in VMware’s success.  Will she resurface?  She is still listed on Intuit’s website as being on their board of directors, however, the same Intuit web page still lists her as an Executive Vice President at EMC and President of VMware.  Gee Intuit, update your web page thingy much?  About as much as your Quicken code tree I imagine which still hammers my x86 processors for no good reason.  But I digress.  Did Diane receive a golden parachute and would she be content filling the creative void with pottery classes?  I think she has too big of a brain to go away quietly.  I see her involved in something bright in the next five years.  Will it be virtualization related?

What about her husband and VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum? I understand after leaving VMware this year he is spending significantly more time in his research at Stanford University as an Associate Professor of Computer Science.  Is that the final chapter for him?

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Top 10 referring pages as of 11/21/08

November 21st, 2008

Thanks for sending traffic my way. It’s a little easier to write when I know you’re providing readership.


What’s also kind of interesting is seeing the growing list of referrals coming from private and corporate intranet sites.  I can’t access their referral page because there is no route to it from the internet, but I can sum the referring URL + the page being hit on my side to get a good idea of how information is being used internally.