Friday, April 20, 2012

Moving a Windows XP install from VPC/VHD to VMWare ESXi 5.0

I had an old Windows XP VHD that I used as a development environment for a client. I don't work with that VHD anymore, but I didn't want to just delete it. I did want to get the VHD off of my laptop to free up storage space and cut down on backup requirements. It seemed that the thing to do was to put in on my ESXi 5.0 host. But, how does one do that? Ah, a learning opportunity...

One googles, and one finds that VMWare provides a tool called the "VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Client". This tool is aimed at industrial-scale conversions and it can handle a couple of different situations (different sources, primarily). I downloaded the tool, installed it, and used it. It was surprisingly easy.
I did get some warnings about not having some sysprep files in place. That was a little scary, but I had a fallback path (the old VHD). If the new VMWare VM was broken, I would only have lost some time and gained some experience. I ignored the error. (From googling around, those files can be obtained from Microsoft and that might be worth doing, if you are converting a large number of machines.)
The tool converted the VHD VM to a ESXi VM and placed on my ESXi host. Using the VSphere management console, I started the new VM and had a look. I expected that I would have some slogging to go through, maybe I'd have to download drivers for the VMWare-specific "hardware". 
While the VM was booting, I was distracted by another task. When I got back to working on the VM a few minutes later, I found that it was installing 59 Windows updates and was humming along. When it finished installing the updates, it rebooted. I could then log in using my old credentials. Windows complained about having been moved to "new hardware", but it allowed me to re-enable the license with just a few mouse clicks. No phone calls, no drama. I then updated the virus software to Microsoft System Essentials from the older Microsoft product.
I expanded the desktop to 1600x1200, to match my venerable Dell FP2001 panel. (This Dell is the best monitor I have ever owned. Between 1990 and 2001, I owned CRTs from Princeton, MAG and Sony. They all died. I even had the MAG fixed once and it died again. I have been using my Dell for 12 years. I've never had a problem with it.)
I configured the VM to use one vcpu. It is pretty snappy, maybe a touch more sluggish than running on my three year old Lenovo T500. wprime says that the VM is only a little slower than running natively on the Core2 Duo in my laptop.
So, the whole process went smoothly and I could see using the tool to do mass-P2V-ing of systems.
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