Saturday, August 2, 2008

VMware in Ubuntu: Configuring Virtual Machines

In a recent post, I described the latest steps in my long effort to make the transition from Windows XP to a Linux-based system. The decision I came to, after investing quite a bit of time in tinkering with VirtualBox and VMware Server, both of which were available without charge, was that if I was going to be able to make virtualization happen at all now, it would happen with VMware Workstation, which cost $189. I had been using a free trial download, which had another couple of weeks of life on it; now it was just a question of getting down to specifics and seeing if it would really work for me. The overall concept, in this transition, was that I wanted to use Ubuntu Linux as the host operating system, and run Windows XP as a guest operating system within a virtual environment. If all went well, I would be working within something that looked and acted like Windows XP -- that, indeed, was created using the Windows XP installation CD -- but I would be doing it on a Linux system. What I hoped to gain, from this arrangement, was reduced dependency upon Windows. There had been many times when I had lost hours, days, and occasionally even weeks to the tasks of defragmenting, virus scanning, virus removing, rebooting, restoring, reinstalling, and otherwise fixing WinXP. Sometimes those experiences had occurred at very inconvenient instances. I was learning, as I continued to tinker with Ubuntu, that I would have some experiences like that in Linux as well. But so far, unpleasant surprises had been scarce. Linux had a reputation for stability and virus security, and I wanted to move in that direction. I also remembered a pre-Windows form of computing, which I had encountered in OS/2, DOS, and (in limited experience) Unix, where it was possible to set things up to run a certain way, and to be somewhat confident that they would continue to do that, so that you would not have to fix them all the time. Again, it seemed that Linux would probably call for some revisitation of problems, but not like that which Windows had required again and again. I chose Ubuntu because it was popular and because it was based on Debian Linux. I had decided, years earlier, that the not-for-profit Debian effort represented a purist approach that seemed most likely to endure and to continue to produce high-quality code. I liked what it stood for and what it had a chance of being. Canonical, developer of Ubuntu, was a for-profit organization, but it seemed to be oriented toward simply making a profit from practical decisions and applications related to Debian developments, and that seemed OK. In previous efforts, I had explored all kinds of permutations, including variants of Linux that were designed to run within Windows. In 2008, however, it appeared that the Hardy Heron (8.04) version of Ubuntu had achieved critical maturity, and also that VMware and perhaps other virtualization products had advanced, to the point where I could realistically hope to run my day-to-day operation on the Ubuntu-based virtualization scheme just described. I had a bit of time in July 2008, so I decided to invest some of that time in this effort to work out, in detail, a practical solution. I hoped the effort would not take as much time as it did wind up taking, but I was prepared to do what I needed to do to make it work. I took copious notes, as you will see if you review the previous postings cited above. Occasionally, judging by fruitless Google searches, it would appear that nobody else had yet posted anything online regarding some of the error messages and other difficulties I got. In those instances, at least, I hope this documentary effort provides some helpful guidance. At the time of this writing, the VMware Workstation 6.0 option was more or less my last chance to make virtualization work now. I had not had good results with VMware Server or VirtualBox, as I say, whereas I had had at least a positive introduction to Workstation. Now it was more a matter of refining the installation and seeing if it would work. Some of the discussion that follows is based upon what was learned and described in previous posts. If a term does not make sense, you may want to try searching my blog for it, and see if I have discussed it in other posts. So at this point, I reinstalled Workstation in Ubuntu with little difficulty, following page 53 of the Workstation User's Manual and using System > Administration > Network Tools for my guide to the IP address for vmnet8. I was hoping that, with my version of Workstation (6.0.4), it would prove unnecessary to enter a handful of additional commands to make it work, as had apparently been necessary in 6.0.3. It seemed to start up OK. VMware proceeded to recognize a lot of hardware, as it had done when I had started Server. This time, instead of saying that I didn't have VMware Tools installed, the status bar at the bottom of the screen said, "Your version of VMware Tools is out of date." But then, after a reboot, that changed to "VMware Tools installed successfully." Everything was copacetic in Device Manager. I activated Windows XP and decided to save a snapshot of the activated installation. About this time, I got a dialog, "Cannot mount volume. Unable to mount the volume OFFSITE," where OFFSITE was the name of the hard drive in the external drive enclosure attached by USB cable. I clicked on Details and got a message that began with, "$LogFile indicates unclean shutdown (0,0)." OK. I had indeed rebooted the system without unmounting the external drive. This was something I would have to pay attention to in Ubuntu; it had not been an issue in Windows. The Details gave me the option of using Safely Remove Hardware in the Windows system tray, but for some reason that option did not appear in the virtual machine. The Details also gave me the option of forcing a quit:

mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdd5 /media/OFFSITE -o force
Alternately, they said, I could add a force-quit line to "the relevant row in the /etc/fstab file":
/dev/sdd5 /media/OFFSITE ntfs-3g force 0 0
I wasn't sure how I would know which was the relevant line, but I took a look at /etc/fstab. In Terminal, I typed these lines:
sudo -i cd /etc gedit fstab
and that put me into the editor. The fstab file was actually quite small. It had one- or two-line sections for devices sdb6 and sdb7, but nothing for sdb5, so I added the suggested line, above, right before the sdb6 section. I saved and closed that, went back to Terminal, and typed the other suggested command, above. It came back with "No such file or directory." I couldn't tell if that meant OFFSITE was now shut down or if, instead, my command had failed. So, OK, I turned back to this matter of making a snapshot of the WinXP Activated system state. But it seemed I already done that, without making note of it. Snapshot Manager showed a clock icon named "WinXP Activated" and, when I clicked once on that, it said, on its status bar at the bottom, "1 snapshot selected." OK, then, next step. I wanted to clone WinXP Activated, as I had apparently called the snapshot, so that I could start developing several different virtual machines with different programs installed on each one. But when I right-clicked on WinXP Activated, the "Clone this Snapshot" option was grayed out. Workstation User's Manual (p. 250) explained, "You cannot create a clone from a virtual machine that is powered on or suspended." Also, they advised defragmenting the disk before cloning. (As they explained in the Performance Tuning document mentioned below, fragmentation would become permanent in a clone or snapshot: subsequent defragmentation could address only those materials that were added after the clone or snapshot. Where the virtual drive was preallocated as distinct from growing, it did not need to be defragged in VMware, only in the Windows guest VM.) After defragging and powering down the virtual machine, I first made a snapshot called WinXPBAct (short for WinXP Basic, Activated). The purpose of the first clone would be to run all kinds of Maintenance things. I wanted it to come up with all of my spyware detectors and other related programs all set to go. Also, once I had it set up, I didn't want it to change. So even if I shut down a couple of those programs when I was done doing a scan with them or updating them or whatever, I wanted the clone to remember how I'd had it set up, and to return to that original state, with those programs all ready to go, next time I fired up that virtual machine. I wasn't sure if that was possible, but that was what I wanted. The other thing, as I slowly realized, was that I wanted some of these assorted programs to run all the time, and others not. I guessed I would probably have to keep the antivirus program running, along with the AvaFind file search tool (so far, unmatched in its usefulness, in my experience) and maybe the Second Copy 2000 backup program that I had come to depend on -- pending my adjustment to rdiff-backup. It was one thing to run these tools occasionally, but I hated to lard the system down with lots of stuff like that. So I had to think about that for a minute. I started by creating a full clone, for reasons described in a previous post. I called it WinXPA-Maint, short for Windows XP Basic Installation, Activated, Maintenance version. But then I figured I probably could run these maintenance programs in a lot less than 1GB of RAM. Windows, itself, was supposedly able to run in 64KB of RAM. What I really needed, I thought, was to make another basic WinXP installation, but make it require just 512MB of RAM. I wanted to delete this clone, but for some reason it was not showing up in Snapshot Manager. I thought maybe it was still being built. Later, I noticed that it had actually opened up in a separate tab and now it had its own independent history in Snapshot Manager. I booted back into WinXP native and started to use VMware Converter to make that kind of virtual machine -- with, again, VMware Tools installed, and still allowing 10GB of virtual disk space. But then I realized it wasn't Converter that assigned the RAM, it was Workstation. So, back into Ubuntu, to make a clone of the pre-activated WinXPBasic, because I understood that you wanted to allocate your RAM before activation. This was when I noticed the WinXPA-Maint clone tab. I deleted that and made a clone of WinXPBasic. (I actually had to start the clone again. I started typing these words, thinking I was in the secondary computer, but I was still in the primary one -- I had not shifted over via my KVM switch -- and in so typing, I caused the cloning to cancel. That is, the Cancel button in the clone was not an Alt-C option; it was a plain old C option, so as soon as I hit the letter C on the keyboard, it was all over.) As before, the clone took just a few minutes, and then I went into this WinXPSmall clone to set its RAM to 512MB. Then I started it up, activated it, and installed antispyware and other stuff on it. I figured I would try to always keep this machine running, so that its AvaFind file index (and that of Google Desktop, if I decided to install that) would always be current and doing the virus scan thing. Since Symantec Antivirus was already installed on this clone, I uninstalled it from the WinXPBasic VM. I noticed that WinXP started up more slowly when I had two virtual machines running. Then, once both machines were running, they were essentially unresponsive. I could click on the Start button and wait almost forever for the menu to come up. Moreover, VMware Tools was not running in the WinXPBasic machine, though it was still running in the WinXPSmall machine. In WinXPBasic, it had a red circle with a line on its icon in the system tray. I thought that possibly this was the reason for some of the slowness. Ultimately, I used VMware to Suspend the WinXPBasic machine, and then WinXPSmall was quite responsive. I used Control Panel > System to change its name to WinXPSmall, because I had gotten this error:
Windows - System Error A duplicate name exists on the network
It required me to reboot for that change to take effect. While that was underway, I resumed the WinXPBasic session. It took a minute or two to come back up, as I could see from the progress bar in VMware underneath the window. When it was being so unresponsive, I found myself wishing that I could use a double-tap on a key like ScrollLock to switch to another machine while freezing my cursor in place, because that's what I did with my KVM switch to switch to the secondary computer -- so I could come over to this machine and type these words while watching the Start menu slowly respond on the primary computer's monitor. VMware itself was quite responsive -- the mouse was moving just fine, and I could use it to click on the tabs for the two virtual machines and switch back and forth almost instantly. But there was nothing happening within Windows in either of the two tabs. Even the seconds counter on my TClockEx clock in the Windows system tray would freeze for a minute or more. I had to wait for a long time for the Start menu to come up. For some reason, the taskbar never came up in WinXPBasic, so there was no Start Menu there at all. The WinXPSmall VM, running by itself, was able to start and run programs (e.g., Internet Explorer) fairly responsively. The same was true for the WinXPBasic VM. But when both of them were running at the same time, startup and run times slowed to a crawl. This wasn't due to lack of memory, clashing system names, lack of hard disk space, or anything else that I could detect. It seemed to be a matter of simple system overload. To address this performance issue, I examined the Performance Tuning and Benchmarking Guidelines for VMware Workstation 6. While there were a great many things to take in mind, some of which had been summarized in other webpages, I was particularly interested in the performance degradation that occurred when I opened the second virtual machine. Therefore, I focused on the Guest Operating System subsection of the Performance Tuning section of those Guidelines. That subsection addressed five major topics: CPUs, memory, disks, networking, and software versions. I did not think disks were the primary problem, because my hard drive light was mostly not lit at times when one or both of the virtual machines were performing poorly. But as I thought about it, I decided that perhaps performance was not the point. The point was that Workstation was simply and purely failing to load two virtual machines correctly. Once again, one of them (in this case, WinXPSmall) completely lacked a taskbar and Start button, even after being on for a half-hour or more. It seemed that numerous other users had experienced slowdowns with VMware on the Hardy Heron version of Ubuntu (8.04). I checked VMware's Edit > Preferences > Memory and saw that it was allocating virtually all host RAM for virtual machines, and that it was allowing some virtual memory to be swapped. I closed VMware and rebooted as root (sudo vmware) and changed several settings in Preferences. I also edited VM > Settings for each of the two virtual machines so that they would each use just one processor, not two. I then logged out and logged back in via Applications > System Tools. I started both VMs. Performance seemed much improved. So now I felt encouraged to go through the more extensive list of performance improvements and considerations mentioned in the Performance Tuning Guidelines and elsewhere. These included: work from full clones, not linked clones or continuing installations, wherever possible, so as to eliminate back-links to previous versions of the VM; look into Windows XP performance tweaks (e.g., disable unneeded services); disable memory page trimming (VM > Settings > Options > Advanced); and set virtual hard drives to be independent and persistent (VM > Settings > Hardware > Hard Disk > Advanced). That last option was available on WinXPSmall, the clone, but not on WinXPBasic. There, it was grayed out. They also advised that, ultimately, I would want to run without snapshots (i.e., delete snapshots) for best performance. They also recommended that I turn off debug mode (VM > Settings > Options > Advanced) and remove the CD-ROM drive if I didn't need it for my application. There were other recommendations, but they did not apply, were described as offering very small performance improvements, and/or did not seem to be within my power to repair. An example of the last was the concern with page faults generated by Windows applications; it did not appear that there were any remedies. Many websites offered many suggestions for Windows XP performance adjustments. There appeared to be some disagreement as to whether some proposed adjustments actually made any difference, or were worth the risk they may have posed to system performance and stability. The one about disabling unneeded services did appear frequently. It appeared that the benefits of doing so were to help Windows boot faster and, to some extent, to free up memory. I decided to revisit this topic on an as-needed basis, beginning with a clearly written article in PC World and another in ExtremeTech. I doubted I would use the highly recommended but exhaustive treatment in Black Viper. I did decide to take John French's advice to turn off Windows' built-in Indexing Service, since I planned to use AvaFind, and I thought I might also return to his article later for a guide on disabling system restore if virtual disk space got tight. In the process of turning off the Indexing Service, I discovered that I was able to do so within VMware, in the Windows XP guest VMs, only for drive C, which was contained in the virtual machines. When I clicked on the Properties of the shared folders, including drive D et seq., I saw that they were described as "Network Drives." So I would have to shut off their indexing service when I next booted into native WinXP. Their status as network drives also meant that I would not have been advised to put my virtual machines on them, since VMware recommended keeping your VMs on local (not network) drives. I was not able to set up a share with my external drive at all; I got this:
Cannot mount volume. You are not privileged to mount the volume 'OFFSITE'.
To test that, I tried starting VMware from the "sudo vmware" command prompt again. As before, nothing happened; VMware did not start up. I did a cold reboot into native XP, shut off the indexing service on all drives, and went back into Ubuntu > VMware. This time, OFFSITE was available. I did not yet set up a share to it, however; indeed, I deleted all shares, since they were not persisting from one reboot of Ubuntu to the next and I didn't want to have to repeat the step of removing and reinstating them each time I made a virtual machine. With those adjustments in place, I restarted the two virtual machines. They were booted and ready for action in less than a minute, and they responded promptly when I tried to open up Windows Explorer in each of them. I felt it was now appropriate to proceed to make more clones and install various programs in them. First, though, I noticed something odd. Although I had made WinXPSmall from the preactivated WinXPBasic, and although these were the two VMs I now had open, neither was requiring me to go through the WinXP activation process again. I tried the Activate Windows icon in each machine and I got the message, "Windows is already activated." So apparently I could go ahead and make clones from WinXPBasic, the pre-activation version, without worrying about having to activate each of them. The set of programs I was installing in VMware virtual machines would be tempered by the question of whether I had a superior alternative. My previous investigations had suggested that the best performance would come from finding an Ubuntu-based replacement. This was feasible in the case of Firefox, the web browser. I had been using it in Windows anyway, so that switch was easy and, in fact, I had been using Firefox in Ubuntu for about a month at this point. The second-best performance, according to sources I had examined in previous posts, would come from using Wine to translate from Ubuntu to Windows. There were people who swore that Wine was enabling them to run Microsoft Office 2003, for example, in Ubuntu, without any need for a virtualization tool like VMware. I had found it easier to make IrfanView work in Ubuntu using Wine, and not so easy to make Office work. But that was, anyway, another approach. So what I was really down to, here in VMware, was the set of Windows applications that I could not presently replace in Ubuntu nor facilitate using Wine. I had decided that I would use more than one virtual machine to run those applications. The reason for that decision was partly that I did not want my entire installation to be screwed up because of one malfunctioning program, and partly because I had different usage needs and patterns for different programs. I had created more or less empty virtual machines of two different sizes: 512MB and 1GB. The first thing I wanted to do was to set up a clone of the 512MB machine to be my "always-on" machine. It would run the antivirus software, the AvaFind file indexing program, the spyware detectors, and other tools that would normally be running all the time. I was running Windows on a Linux system behind a router as firewall, and wasn't really sure that I needed antivirus and other security software running in a virtual machine, but I decided I would shut it down only if performance turned out to be an issue -- and in that case, I would have the option of shutting down all of my system-dragging programs at once. On this basis, I uninstalled the antivirus software that I had installed on the 1GB virtual machine, cloned the 512MB machine, and prepared to install the various tools just mentioned. I had done a number of the foregoing changes as root -- that is, typing "sudo vmware" at the command prompt, instead of using Applications > System Tools > VMware Workstation. I had done this because there were some variables I wanted to adjust, and it had seemed that they might be variables to which only root would have access. Eventually, I remembered that I had logged in as root. I closed out of VMware and then came back in through Applications > System Tools. But now I was getting an error message when I tried to start WinXPSmall:
Failed to get exclusive lock on the configuration file. Another vmware process could be running the configuration file.
I entirely exited from Terminal, just in case. I clicked OK and got another error message:
Unable to change virtual machine power state: Cannot find a valid peer process to connect to.
And when I clicked OK on that one, I got yet another:
Failed to reply to the dialog: Pipe: Read failed
I closed down VMware and started it back up, but I got the same errors when I tried again with WinXPSmall. I closed down VMware and went into System > Administration > System Monitor > Processes. There were no vmware* processes running. I rebooted the computer and tried again. This time, there were no error messages. Now I tried starting WinXPBasic. When I powered it on, I got this error message:
File not found: WinXPBasic-000001.vmdk This file is required to power on this virtual machine. If this file was moved, please provide its new location.
I clicked the Browse button. Right there, in the same folder with the other WinXPBasic files (e.g., WinXPBasic.vmdk), was the WinXPBasic-000001.vmdk file. I clicked on it and then clicked Open. I got the "File not found" error message again. On this one, I found a few posts where I had no idea what the writers were talking about. I went to Snapshot Manager and tried to click on the WinXP Activated snapshot, figuring I could use it as a replacement for the WinXPBasic virtual machine, but that brought another error message:
Error loading snapshot screenshot: Error retrieving screenshot: A needed file was not found..
I tried moving ahead of that, there in Snapshot Manager, to the bullseye with the label, "You Are Here." I clicked "Clone" and answered the other questions, but that, too, brought out the "File not found" error message. I tried to get past that, but ultimately got "Operation canceled." I went into Edit > Preferences and observed that the settings I had set when I was logged in as root seemed to have been discarded. What evidently happened was that the configuration file associated with me was taken over by the root user and was not given back to me after root logged out. I also tried getting the display to adjust, there in Preferences, so that I would not have to use scroll bars to see the entire Windows desktop when I was not in full-screen mode; but no matter what I clicked, after restarting the machine the scrollbars remained unchanged. I cloned WinXPSmall and called it WinXPMaint. This would be the one I would use to install all those antivirus programs and such. I powered it on and checked its activation status. It was activated. I powered down all virtual machines and exited VMware. Just out of curiosity, I started VMware with "sudo vmware" at the Terminal prompt and did two things. First, I opened WinXPBasic, changed its RAM setting up and then back to where it was, and closed out WinXPBasic. I wanted to see whether this would fix its problems. Second, I changed the memory setting of WinXPMaint to be 1024MB (i.e., 1GB). I wanted to see whether it could become a replacement for WinXPBasic. I started Workstation from the Applications menu and opened all three VMs. WinXPSmall opened without a problem. WinXPBasic had the same error message as before. It was apparently trash, then, for my purposes. Finally, WinXPMaint powered up without a problem. I checked its activation status. It was activated. So changing its RAM from 512MB to 1GB had not spoiled that, notwithstanding the cautions that VMware had given me on that subject. I could use WinXPMaint as a replacement for WinXPBasic. That raised the question of how to get rid of WinXPBasic. There did not seem to be a delete button anywhere except in Snapshot Manager, and it gave me the same error message as above when I tried to use it. The solution was to use File > Open and then right-click on its tab and select "Delete from disk." I got a warning, "This action is irreversible!" I said yes, do it. That did it. So now I wanted to rename WinXPMaint to be WinXPBasic. But there did not appear to be a way to do that -- nothing in the manual, and only some convoluted techniques that appeared to have caused problems for the Workstation users who tried them, judging by the posts that I reviewed. Instead, I cloned WinXPMaint as WX1GB (to mark it as the reference file) and then cloned WX1GB as WXOffice, to indicate the programs that I would be installing in it. I also cloned WinXPSmall as WXS-AlwOn, to indicate that this Small (512KB) VM would always be on. Or at least I tried to. I got this error message:
Cloning failed: There is not enough space on the file system for the selected operation, free 2.01 GB on the file system and try again.
This called for an evaluation of available space. An examination of properties for the file system on my primary computer indicated that, somehow, it had accumulated 96GB of files. But where were they all? By my count, I should have had only 30GB or so in these several virtual machines. Surely Ubuntu had not installed another 70GB worth of files. There did not seem to be a TreeSize utility like the one I had used in Windows, to simply click and look at a visual display of folders and, optionally, subfolders. I did think about running TreeSize in one of my virtual machines, but that seemed futile, since that Windows program would not work on a Linux folder. Besides, I was curious whether there was a comparable tool in Ubuntu. The closest I got was to find a discussion in which the advice was to enter "du -s *| sort -n" in Terminal. I did that and got a listing of a billion folders, of which the largest was only about 1MB. This was not the answer. Then I thought of searching for a Linux version of TreeView and, what do you know, I found one and downloaded it. But I couldn't figure out how to install it. I did notice that I had about 10GB in a VirtualBox folder, so I uninstalled VirtualBox and deleted that. But that achieved almost nothing; I still had only 10GB free. I figured the items I had been deleting must have been expanding the trash bin. But now, how to find and empty that? I entered two slightly different commands that people recommended (i.e., "rm -rf ~/.Trash/*" and "sudo rm -fr $HOME/.Trash/"), but they made no difference. Rebooting didn't either. Eventually I recalled or rediscovered /var/lib/vmware, where I believed I had put copies of virtual disks created by VMware Converter for access by VirtualBox. None of those materials appeared to have been touched during the past 24 hours, so I deleted them. Properties said I still had only 10GB free, but I knew that could not be possible. So I went back into VMware Workstation and tried again to clone WinXPSmall to WXS-AlwOn. And still it said I needed to free another 2.01 GB, and the operation failed. So I tried some more commands, checking free space after each one:
gksudo nautilus ‘/root/.Trash/’
which yielded an error message:
Couldn't find "/root/.Trash". Please check the spelling and try again.
and then
sudo nautilus
which did open up a File Browser session that actually showed a Trash folder. But when I tried to open that folder, I got an error message:
The folder contents could not be displayed. Sorry, couldn't display all the contents of "trash": Operation not supported.
The reason for this may have been related to another error message that came up simultaneously in Terminal:
Called "net usershare info" but it failed: 'net usershare' returend error 255: net usershare: cannot open usershare directory /var/lib/samba/usershares. Error No such file or directory. Please ask your system administrator to enable user sharing. ** (nautilus:8072): WARNING **: Unable to add monitor: Operation not supported --- Hash table keys for warning below: --> trash:///
It went on from there, but you get the idea. The person who proposed that method acknowledged the existence of problems when running x programs with sudo, so I guessed this might be an error not worth troubleshooting. I felt I had found a Trash folder, but I still did not know where it was: I couldn't figure out how to navigate to it in Terminal. Eventually something someone said reminded me that, of course, I had a Trash icon on the bottom bar on the screen -- I guess they called it a "panel" in Ubuntu; it was the taskbar (or was actually where the system tray would be) in Windows, so I right-clicked on that and had an option to empty the trash there, and sure enough, 3687 items were deleted, among which I noticed (as the file names flashed by) some VMDK files, which were probably huge. When that was done, I checked the Properties of the File System again in Nautilus (i.e., File Browser), and it said I had 68GB free. Mission accomplished. So now I went back to Workstation and tried cloning WinXPSmall to WXS-AlwOn, and this time it worked. Not to say that I wasn't a little concerned about further discussion on the complexities of the trash bin, but I seemed to have gone about as far as I could go on that issue for the time being. I also cloned WinXPSmall to WX512K, so I could easily tell that it was a model for copying from, like WX1GB, and then I deleted WinXPSmall. I wasn't sure how many virtual machines I would need for my various files. I thought maybe I would try to squeeze as many utilities as possible into the WXS-AlwOn machine, and if it began doing a lot of swapping out to disk, I would revisit that question. I also reconsidered the question of Microsoft Office 2003 and Adobe Acrobat. Office 2003 required less than 200MB to run. It seemed likely that a 512MB machine would accommodate it. I thought I would try it, at least. It would incidentally be easier to run a machine of that size on the secondary computer, with its 2GB RAM ceiling. So I deleted the WXOffice 1GB clone I had made, and prepared to make another with the same name but only 512K. Or, as I thought about it, I decided I wouldn't use the same name. I would create a virginal Office installation that I could clone from and use as a basis for different flavors of the Office installation. So I called this one WXSOfcPure. So now I had four virtual machines. Two were models, just for copying from, with just basic stuff installed (e.g., printer driver): WX512K and WX1GB. The other two were copies of WX512K: WXS-AlwOn, for antivirus etc., and WXSOfcPure, for my basic Office installation. With that in place, I proceeded to open the last two, to change their names (using Control Panel > System) and install their programs. The first thing to do, in each of them, was to designate my other disk partitions as shared folders. I could see that this was going to be a large hassle, if I was going to have to go through multiple steps to make five disk partitions visible every time I opened each virtual machine. I would have to hope that VMware fixed this flaw, or that I reorganized my files somehow, or something. Anyway, when I was doing it this time, I got this error:
A configuration state change operation is already in progress. Your changes will not be saved.
So I was not able to designate shared folders -- at least not then, for that virtual machine. I did not get that error when I moved on and designated shared folders in the WXS-AlwOn machine. To fix the error, I tried closing down both virtual machines, and then closed and restarted VMware. That did it. Now I had a new problem. In Ubuntu on the primary machine, I was not able to go online. This problem emerged in Firefox on Ubuntu itself, and it also appeared when I installed one of the first utilities in WXS-AlwOn. That utility, Advanced WindowsCare 2 Personal, had seemed to be useful for straightening out problems in the Windows registry, and suddenly it occurred to me that it had probably ought to be in all of the virtual machines I was assembling, because otherwise it would be straightening out only drive C in this WXS-AlwOn tools VM. So I started it up in the other VMs too. Whatever; when I installed it, it tried to check for an update using the copy of Internet Explorer that was built into Windows, and it was not able to connect. And now I realized that could be the case with several of the programs that I had proposed to install in WXS-AlwOn. For some reason, I was still thinking that they would be checking a real, physical drive C. But each virtual drive was entirely independent. There was no point having Symantec AntiVirus running only in the WXS-AlwOn machine; a virus could be affecting any of the other machines as well. Each had its own virtual drive C. Should I therefore install antispyware and antivirus programs in every virtual machine -- and would doing so multiply their slowdown effect on the computer as a whole? Some posts suggested that this was unnecessary and, moreover, that such installations could indeed take a toll on performance. So I decided to skip the antivirus and antispyware programs in my virtual machines, at least for now. I uninstalled Symantec AntiVirus from each of them. It did not want to uninstall very easily, so this turned out to be somewhat time-consuming. At this point, I made another interesting discovery. Unlike the fixed internal hard drive partitions, my external drive, connected by USB cable, did not need to go through VMware Workstation's VM > Settings > Options > Shared Folders > Add process. I turned on that drive and found that it was not recognized in Ubuntu -- at least not yet -- but it was recognized in the Windows virtual machines. So, conceivably, if you wanted to be sure that your VM would always recognize the disk your data was on without having to take manual steps, you might want to put it on a USB drive. Now that Windows was seeing the drive, there in my virtual machines, I installed Second Copy 2000 on WXS-AlwOn, so as to begin doing some data backup of my NTFS partitions. I had come around to the point of planning to buy Acronis True Image, whose price had dropped by 50% in the past year, to back up my Linux and Windows dual-boot program drives; I did plan to learn to use rdiff-backup; but for now, this would buy me some time to focus on other things. Correction: only one Windows virtual machine was seeing the USB drive. This seemed very odd. I did not have an explanation for that at this moment. I also discovered that, in WinXP's Computer Management tool, the only drives I could see were C, the USB drive, and the CD-ROM. All other hard drive partitions were seen as folders, there in the virtual machine. Indeed, if I checked their Properties, WinXP in the virtual machines reported that they were only about 2GB in size -- even if they were, in fact, hundreds of gigabytes large. I could highlight their contents and get the gross contents size by checking *their* properties, but not for the partition itself. So if I wanted to defragment those partitions, change their drive labels, or do other maintenance on them, I would have to do it from physical bootup -- that is, by using the Windows dual boot, or by booting the GPartEd CD, or something like that. I did have some such maintenance to do, mostly consisting of moving some files around and rearranging some partitions, so I rebooted and took care of that. So: about that problem of not being able to connect. I had worked through that kind of problem previously. As before, I was able to go online with the secondary computer, on which I was writing these words, while connected to the router. So the router did not seem to be the problem. On the primary computer, where I was having this problem, I dual-booted back into native WinXP and was able to go online there. So it was just an Ubuntu problem on the primary computer. Last time around, it had seemed like the problem got fixed by magic: somehow it cured itself, just from the process of going to Windows and leaving it alone for a while, and so forth. So far, this time, the magic was not working. I went into Ubuntu's System > Administration > Network Tools > Devices > Network Device. There, I saw four entries:
Loopback Interface (lo) Ethernet Interface (eth0) Unknown Interface (vmnet1) Unknown Interface (vmnet8)
This list seemed to suggest that the vmnet items, which apparently stemmed from VMware, might not be properly recognized or working. The theory, in that case, would be that VMware had interfered with my ability to use Firefox even when VMware was not running. I posted a question on that, and turned back to the task of installing programs in different virtual machines. As part of that task, I wanted to move some files. I tried doing so in Windows Explorer, within one of the virtual machines. Each file I tried to move resulted in an error message:
Error Copying File or Folder Cannot copy : Access is denied. Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.
As noted earlier, Windows Explorer showed each shared NTFS drive partition as having a capacity of only about 2GB, even if its true capacity was many gigabytes. I tried this file moving operation in two different virtual machines and got the same result. So I moved the files using File Browser in the underlying Ubuntu layer, which I probably should have been practicing with anyway. While the files were moving, I did some miscellaneous things online, working in Firefox in Ubuntu on the secondary computer. In the process, my top and bottom panels disappeared. I was adjusting something in them and I apparently clicked the wrong thing. They weren't just partly gone, or memorialized by a tiny arrow box that would let me slide them back into position; they were completely gone. Maximizing the Firefox window in which I was writing these words, for example, would completely fill the screen, covering where the panels used to be. This permitted the funky discovery that if I put my mouse over a portion of the desktop and spun the mouse wheel, I got into the other desktop and could now see a faint line at the right edge of the screen -- which, when I dragged it, turned out to be the left edge of this Firefox window! So I could make my Internet browser (or, presumably, other programs as well) spread across two desktops. Nice. Interesting. But anyway, about those panels . . . I did find discussions of the problem where people recommended various fixes. One advised the following installation, which I did by hitting Alt-F2 and instructing it to run in Terminal (because otherwise I couldn't access Terminal):
sudo apt-get install nautilus-openterminal
This gave me options when I right-clicked on the desktop. Handy! But not an answer to the problem. The person who recommended it said it would give me an Open Terminal option, but it didn't. Another suggested
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install --reinstall gnome-panel
which I attempted with two Alt-F2 sessions; but that made no difference either. In a variation, someone else offered
killall gnome-panel sudo apt-get install gnome-panel gnome-panel
But, you know, as soon as I typed the first "killall" line, the panels were back. So I didn't have to take the more drastic measure of installing KDE or XCFE as alternate desktops in which to execute the relevant commands. By this time, I had a response to my post about connecting. I had to say, I appreciated how quickly people got back to me in response to my questions in these forums. The response said I should try typing "route -n." I did that on the primary computer. It gave me some output that I repeated back to the person offering the suggestion. That process continued in an exchange of several messages. Meanwhile, I turned back to the installation of various programs in the WXSOfcPure and WXS-AlwOn virtual machines. Again, I ran into problems in Windows Explorer. I tried to select specific folders on a shared drive. I was able to select any one of them. I was also able to select them all with Ctrl-A. But for a few moments there, I was not able to use Ctrl-click to select more than one of them. I think that was while the computer was meanwhile counting the total number of files in another folder, there in Windows Explorer. When that process was done, then the selection worked as normal. And what it told me was that Ubuntu had copied the *exact* number of files that I had selected, from one partition to another. Not just close, a few more or a few less, as often happened in Windows. I would wonder: why did Windows copy 19,343 files, when I asked it to copy 19,344? None of that here. When I was moving and copying files, I noticed that Windows Explorer was pretty slow to show me the contents of various folders, to refresh itself, etc. It seemed that, even with VMware Tools installed, two open virtual machines and a separate folder-copying operation were enough to slow the system down quite a bit. The two machines I had open, WXS-AlwOn and WXSOfcPure, were both 512K machines. I couldn't tell whether any of their slowness was due to swapping, because the hard drive light was already constantly lit by the file copying operation that was then underway. I opened the WX1GB machine, with its 1GB of reserved RAM, and tried poking around in Windows Explorer, to see whether its greater RAM would make it more responsive. It didn't seem to make a difference, so I closed it. Responsiveness seemed to improve after five or ten minutes in the two machines. As I was trying to decide which programs I should install in the virtual machines, there were some I decided I would not try right now. One was Logitech Mouseware, containing drivers and utilities for my mouse. I had tried that once before, and it had seemed to screw things up. I think it interfered with the mouse drivers that came with VMware. I also didn't install webcam software. I wasn't feeling that the virtual machines were very responsive, and anyway I was pretty sure I could find adequate software for that in the Linux world. I didn't install Google Desktop, not because I wouldn't have liked to have a quick search tool for the material contained within my files, but because I had previously noticed that Google Desktop really imposed a performance hit on my computer. Again, I hoped there would be an Ubuntu counterpart that would match GD's ability to search in PDFs and so forth. In the spirit of trying to keep these virtual machines simple, I generally decided to install things on an as-needed basis, pending research into the Ubuntu alternatives one by one. So, for the moment at least, I postponed the questions of what image and video editing or viewing software to install, and of whether Audacity in Ubuntu (marked for installation, in System > Administration > Synaptic, as soon as I could get an Internet connection) would be as useful for audio editing as Cool Edit 2000 (since absorbed into an Adobe product) had been in Windows. There were nonetheless a number of programs that I would need on an occasional basis. I decided not to install these in the always-on WXS-AlwOn virtual machine. Most of them, I thought, would run and then go away when I killed them; but there was a chance that some of them would keep running in the background if I let them. So in VMware I cloned the WXS512K machine to another one called WXSOccnl, short for Windows XP Small Virtual Machine for Occasionally Used Programs. I figured I would start this machine up once in a while, for some specific purpose, and then close it down when I was done with it. I was impressed, at this point, with VMware's seeming efficiency. I had several things going on at once here. I was copying a bunch of files on the Ubuntu layer; at the same time, I was running the Second Copy 2000 backup program to copy some files to the exteranl drive. I was also installing Microsoft Office 2003 in the WXSOfcPure virtual machine; and I was cloning WXS512K. Each of these processes was slowed with so much other stuff going on; but the mouse cursor remained functional throughout, and VMware was responsive when I tried switching from one window to another. I had some obvious hardware bottlenecks, and I was in the process of making some decisions about that; but at least it did seem to me that VMware Workstation 6 was up to the job. I would also say that the experience of installing different kinds of programs in different virtual machines felt better than installing them all in one single physical machine. I think this was partly because I appreciated that I was going to be somewhat insulated, if all went well, such that a problem with one program might have almost no effect on other things. Also, if these machines turned out to be transportable and reusable, this would finally solve the problem of having to reinstall a boatload of programs every time Windows went belly-up. A Windows reinstallation would have no effect on these VMs: they would run as usual, once VMware was reinstalled. There was also something logical about compartmentalizing different kinds or purposes of programs together in some way; it felt more rational than the chaotic jumble of programs installed in any random order in the customary Windows setup. As for the WXS-AlwOn machine, it seemed that I may have made it larger than it actually needed to be. I had given it 512K, when WinXP could have run on much less, and there were really only a couple of programs in there so far. It now seemed that almost everything else on the list belonged in the occasional-use category. I decided to see whether there was an Ubuntu equivalent for Google Desktop search. If not, I would maybe install it in the WXS-AlwOn machine too, and hope that (a) it would not drag things down too much and (b) for it, and also for AvaFind, its search results would be free to remain in RAM and would therefore give me very fast responses. But then, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a tutorial explaining that there did exist a Google Earth for Linux, and providing specific steps on installing it in Ubuntu Hardy Heron version 8.04! Unfortunately, I was not able to make those steps work because I was still not getting an Internet connection in Ubuntu on the primary computer. So that would have to wait. This left me, nonetheless, with the conclusion that the WXS-AlwOn machine was oversized. If RAM got to be an issue, I would have to try again with a smaller version. The Microsoft Office 2003 installation was still going on in the WXSOfcPure virtual machine. So now it was time to equip the WXSOccnl VM. The first thing I wanted to do, in that machine and in all the others, was disable a startup program that I had installed. I don't remember its official name, but I had labeled the shortcut, in the Startup folder, as NIST Time Software.exe. The concept was that this software would synchronize the system time with the official time somewhere in Washington D.C. But it was not working in VMware, and anyway I had the impression that Ubuntu already contained something of this nature. The process of removing this one little item from the Startup folder proved to be a hassle, however, because by now we were talking about five different virtual machines, all of which had been cloned from the one misbegotten original. Moreover, when I tried to start up all five at once, I got this error message in WX1GB:
Not enough physical memory is available to power on this virtual machine. To fix this problem, power off other virtual machines, decrease the memory size of this virtual machine to 620 MB, increase the amount of physical memory for all virtual machines to 3408 MB, or adjust the additional memory settings to allow more virtual machine memory to be swapped. If you were able to power on this virtual machine in the host computer in the past, try rebooting the host computer. Rebooting may allow you to use slightly more host memory to run virtual machines.
I closed down WX512K and tried again. This time it worked. So with 3000MB allocated to all virtual machines in VMware's Edit > Preferences > Memory (which I think I had set by running "sudo vmware"), I was able to run three 512MB machines and one 1GB machine. Or, as the foregoing quote puts it, the attempt to run three 512MB machines and *two* 1GB machines fell short by about 400MB, which was roughly but not exactly what basic addition would suggest. I returned to the question of what to install in the WXSOccnl machine. As in my first go-round with VMware Workstation, I wanted to begin by installing the software to connect my various USB devices. This included the Palm Desktop software for my PDA and the Olympus Digital Wave Player for my Olympus VN-960PC digital voice recorder. I would just be synchronizing these devices once in a while, so they seemed perfect for the WXSOccnl machine. But then, as I thought about it, I realized that the Palm Desktop software would be needed at other times as well, not just when I was synchronizing, so I thought perhaps that belonged in the Office-oriented VM. After installing the Digital Wave Player software, I plugged the mini-USB cable into the digital voice recorder and waited for the WXSOccnl VM to recognize it. This didn't happen. I tried to manually start Digital Wave Player in that VM, but everything was happening very slowly. Too much of a load on the machine. My impression was that the bottlenecks, at that moment, were the hard drive (whose light was constantly on) and the CPU. But I wondered whether any of these machines were also running out of RAM, and were therefore needing to swap out some of the contents of RAM to the hard drive. I didn't see any way to check that in VMware Workstation, so I decided to try some Windows utilities (as soon as the system became responsive again) and see if they could shed some light. System responsiveness was so bad, at this point, that I decided that I needed to learn how to move my virtual machines to a different drive. I had originally set up my partitions to accommodate that, but it hadn't seemed necessary to worry about it for a while there, so I defaulted to creating VMs on the same drive as the VMware installation. At this rate, that was not going to work anymore. I had just found Keith's VMware tutorial, which looked like it might be helpful, and that was one of the first steps he recommended. He also advised leaving a lot more RAM for the host system than I had done. That may have been partly due to his use of Windows as a host. But on a 4GB system (3.3GB available, he said), he would reserve about 2GB for the host. I was reserving less than half as much. It did begin to seem that the goal of 6GB of RAM for the primary computer would be well-advised. But then things sped up some. Office 2003 had finished installing in the WXSOfcPure VM, and that file copying process had completed. Second Copy 2000 backup was still underway in the WXS-AlwOn machine, but other than that the primary computer was at a standstill. Digital Wave Player had still not recognized the digital voice recorder connected to the mini-USB cable. I looked into File Browser in Ubuntu and noticed that it had recognized a device that it called R0990_20. The icon next to it was more or less the icon used in Windows to indicate my VN-960PC. According to File Browser, that device was empty. I unplugged the recorder, switched it to a folder that had entries, and plugged it back in. This changed nothing. So the only way I had of accessing the contents of the recorder through the computer was via Digital Wave Player, as had been the case in Windows; and unfortunately DWP in the VM was not recognizing the recorder. Several sources recommended using this command to solve USB problems:
mount -t usbfs none /proc/bus/usb
This was somewhat similar to the /proc/bus/usb alteration that people had recommended to make VirtualBox work. I had to run "sudo -i" to log in as root in Terminal, and then that command seemed to run OK. But it didn't fix anything. I unplugged and replugged the recorder; still no recognition in Digital Wave Player. I thought maybe the problem was with DWP, because it was not very responsive in general. I rebooted the WXSOccnl virtual machine and tried again. While that reboot was underway, I went to the WXSOfcPure VM and installed Microsoft Office 2003 service packs 1 and 2, which I had downloaded previously, along with some other Office add-ons. I plugged in the digital voice recorder again, still got no response from the WXSOccnl VM, returned to File Browser, and belatedly thought to unmount R0990_20. Eventually, the very slow WXSOccnl did recognize the recorder, started the Found New Hardware Wizard, and when that was done, offered to transfer files as hoped for. To my surprise, it showed itself as adding those files to a folder that contained hundreds of items. I checked in Windows Explorer and, yes, those hundreds of items were there. But I had moved them to another folder, using Ubuntu's File Browser! I checked in File Browser. It said they had been moved. Whom to believe . . . this was just the sort of flakiness that had caused me to turn away from VirtualBox. I went back into Windows Explorer and told it to move those files, as File Browser said it had already done. Windows spent about five minutes doing this. It appeared that, when Windows Explorer said that a folder was empty, then File Browser would concur; but if File Browser said it, Windows did not necessarily agree. So it seemed that, in some cases, I might want to be doing my file moving within VMware rather than in Ubuntu. Anyway, the downloads seemed pretty fast, from the recorder to Windows there in VMware. I continued installing other programs in WXSOccnl. These included Corel Office, which I sometimes used to read old WordPerfect documents or files that came from others. But then, in the middle of everything, an undesirable experience: Ubuntu crashed. It sent me to a black-and-white command-line screen, and then, after a minute or so, it put me back at the login. After I logged in, I saw that my top panel, which I had moved to the right side, was now on the left side and refused to be moved; and likewise for the bottom panel, which was now at the top of the screen. No programs were running. So I restarted the computer, and when I got back into Ubuntu, it was still that way. I posted a question on this. At the time of the crash, Second Copy 2000 had been running in the WXS-AlwOn virtual machine, doing a backup of my data to an external hard drive. After rebooting, that external drive was no longer available. It did appear in File Browser; but when I tried to open it, I got "Cannot mount volume. You are not privileged to mount the volume ." One recommended solution for this was to boot into Windows, open it there, and then close down the system in an orderly way. Another recommendation was to convert the external drive to the ext3 file system. Evidently the NTFS file system of Windows XP was not as good at handling this sort of crash. I decided to take that approach, and rebooted with the GPartEd CD, which I used to delete the old partition and create a new ext3 one. Unfortunately, that accomplished nothing. When I got back into Ubuntu and tried to open the external drive with File Browser, I got exactly the same "Cannot mount volume" error message. This particular external drive (actually, an internal SATA mounted in a Rosewill external drive enclosure) had the option of connecting by USB cable, which I had been using, or eSATA cable. I shut it off, switched cables, and turned it back on. Nothing happened. Still the same error when I tried to access it. So I rebooted the computer and tried again. But I still got the same "Cannot mount volume" error. So the problem was not related to its being an external USB drive. I dual-booted into Windows, expecting that it would not be able to see the ext3 drive. This was the case. It did recognize it as new hardware on bootup, but the drive did not appear in Windows Explorer and was marked as being "unknown" in Computer Management. I belatedly realized that the error message had spoken of privileges, suggesting that it was not a problem with the drive but rather with my approach to it. But I did not know what to do about that. I rebooted with the Partition Magic CD. It reported a "partition table error #110 found." Someone suggested, however, that that may have been simply because the drive was too large. That seemed possible in this case; it was a 750GB drive. But that would not explain GPartEd's similar failure to produce an accessible drive. I connected the drive by USB cable to the secondary computer. I was able to right-click and view its Properties > Permissions. Sure enough, persons other than root were able only to access files, not to create and delete them. So, as they advised in one discussion, I typed "df -h" to find out that the external drive was at location /dev/sdd5, and then typed "sudo chown ray /dev/sdd5" to make myself its owner. I checked the drive's properties again and found that this had achieved nothing. I thought maybe I had misunderstood the syntax, so I tried again with "sudo chown ray /media/OFFSITE," where OFFSITE was the name of the drive. That worked. Ray now had read and write privileges. I unmounted the drive and plugged it back into the primary computer. Over there, Properties > Permissions gave me "The permissions of "OFFSITE" could not be determined." I ran that chown command anyway. It didn't work. It said, "cannot access '/media/OFFSITE': No such file or directory." And it was true. OFFSITE was visible in File Browser, but did not appear in the "df -h" listing. When I right-clicked on the volume and tried to mount it, I got "Cannot mount volume" again: "You are not privileged . . ." I tried again with GPartEd, this time installing it in Ubuntu (rather than booting it from the CD) and running it from System > Administration > Partition Editor. But GPartEd saw the drive clearly enough, and there were no special flags enabled on it. I posted a question on this in the user forums. Speaking of which, I now had some progress on the question about being unable to go online on the primary computer. The key step appeared to be that someone suggested turning off VMware. When I did that, the vmnet8 network device disappeared -- I was not sure at exactly what point -- and, seemingly relatedly, I was able to connect in Firefox in Ubuntu, and also in Internet Explorer in a virtual machine. At this point, it appeared that the problem may have come from my ill-conceived installation of vmnet8 at an earlier stage in the VMware Workstation configuration process. By this time, I also had a response to my question about the screwed-up panels. The advice was as follows:
Back up panel settings first(just in case): cp -R ~/.gconf/apps/panel ~/panel_bak Delete current panel profiles: rm -r ~/.gconf/apps/panel Now log out and back in and your panels should be at their default settings and you can change them however you want.
I tried the first step while logged in as root. That didn't work. I typed "exit" to get out of that, and tried again. I rebooted, and it worked. My panels were good again. Now I could return to the process of configuring my virtual machines. I had been working in WXS-AlwOn, WXSOfcPure, and WXSOccnl. So I started up VMware Workstation and powered up those three VMs. I couldn't continue the Second Copy 2000 backup process that had been underway in WXS-AlwOn because I still didn't have access to the external drive on the primary computer. But now that I could go online, I could continue the Office 2003 installation process in WXSOfcPure by configuring Outlook 2003 and Palm Desktop, and by adding Adobe Acrobat. And in WXSOccnl, I could resume the interrupted process of installing occasionally used programs. I had been partway through the installation of Corel Office when the system crashed, so I would resume there. Before getting too far with that, I went for a run, ate a big meal, and otherwise fooled around until someone had time to respond to my post about access to the external drive. The advice was:
Quick answer: examine your /etc/fstab file and I'm betting the computer that recogizes the drive has an entry for it. I could be wrong though-but that's the first thing that comes to mind. What filesystem do you have on that drive anyway? Usually ubuntu will automount your plug in drives. If my guess is wrong open a terminal, with the drive plugged in, and enter sudo fdisk -lu You can do that on both computers and compare the differences.
I also got a second response in that same thread:
open a terminal with the drive plugged into to the first computer and run this: sudo mkdir /media/external sudo mount /dev/sdd5 /media/external
On both computers, using Terminal, I went to /etc and typed "gedit fstab." On the primary computer, where OFFSITE was not recognized, fstab contained this:
# /dev/sdb5 /dev/sdd5 /media/OFFSITE ntfs-3g force 0 0
On the secondary computer, where OFFSITE was recognized, there was no entry for sdb5 or sdd5 (not that I understood why it was referred to in two different ways). I didn't change anything in fstab on the primary computer yet, though I was tempted to remove those lines. I closed out of fstab and typed "sudo fdisk -lu" in Terminal on the primary computer, which is where the OFFSITE external drive was connected. It did show entries for /dev/sdd5:
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdd1 63 1465144064 732572001 f W95 Ext'd (LBA) /dev/sdd5 126 1465144064 732571969+ 83 Linux
(There were spaces that put these items into nice columns, but good ol' Blogger, this website, removes them.) This told me that the primary computer was recognizing OFFSITE but didn't know what to do with it. When I ran "sudo fdisk -lu" on the secondary computer with OFFSITE connected there, I got this:
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdd1 63 1465144064 732572001 f W95 Ext'd (LBA) /dev/sdd5 126 1465144064 732571969+ 83 Linux
The two appeared identical, so it seemed both computers were seeing the same thing when they looked at the drive. Finally, when I ran the last piece of advice quoted above, involving "sudo mkdir" and "sudo mount," that enabled me to access the drive in File Browser. Curious, I went back to /etc/fstab. It had not changed. I wasn't sure, now, whether I should delete those extra lines about sdd5 or not. With that taken care of, I resumed the Second Copy 2000 backup process in the WXS-AlwOn virtual machine (after the chore of once again enabling folder sharing, and drive mapping, for each partition I would be using). Interestingly, the WinXP VM was able to recognize OFFSITE even though I had formatted it as Linux ext3. I also resumed installing office-related programs in WXS-OfcPure, and programs that I would use occasionally in WXSOccnl. Those programs included AIDA32, which seemed to be giving more accurate information in the virtual environment than Belarc Advisor. (PC Wizard, Prime 95, and Test My Hardware were other possibilities, but one was enough for now.) I started to install the USPS Shipping Assistant for purposes of printing postage, but I canceled that when it began downloading Microsoft .NET. I had noticed, from the beginning of this whole process, that installing Microsoft Windows updates seemed to slow down performance and increase instability dramatically. So what I was running on these virtual machines, so far, was the original Windows XP from the CD. I would experiment with updates later, as I continued to develop these virtual machines, but first I wanted a working system. I installed Aqua Deskperience, because it enabled me to copy text from the screen, including specifically the creation date and time of Olympus VN-960PC Digital Wave Player entries, that I did not know how to retrieve in any other way. I installed the software for my digital camera. I decided to try installing FreeRam XP Pro, and see what it reported by way of RAM usage in my virtual machine. It seemed to be working, and I thought I probably should have installed it in all of my virtual machines. So I did. To my surprise, it indicated that the WXS-AlwOn VM had only 148MB free. So I decided not to make it smaller than 512K at this point. Now I had a new installation problem. Acrobat would not install in WXSOfcPure. With Word and Excel open but no files loaded, FreeRam reported 242MB free, which told me two things: there was enough RAM to install Acrobat, but I probably should go back to the original idea of running these crucial office-related programs in a 1GB virtual machine, given that I would sometimes have dozens of PDFs and DOC files open at once, and would also sometimes work with large spreadsheets. So why wasn't Acrobat installing? I tried several times, and each time it stalled at the same point. It would say "Stopping services" and "Service to stop: Print Spooler," and there it would hang. I didn't find anything on it in a brief Google search. I suspected that those very savvy Adobe programmers may have designed the installer to recognize when it was running in a virtual environment. Tentatively, it looked like the office-related virtual machine was going to work just fine: Word certainly seemed responsive. So I decided to reboot into WinXP, install Acrobat there, run VMware Converter, make the new WXMOfcPure (M for medium-sized or mille, i.e., 1,000) a 1GB machine, and reinstall Microsoft Office in that larger machine. Before doing that, I thought maybe I should try installing it in a clone of WX1GB. So I created WXMOfcPure that way, and tried again. My theory was mistaken: Acrobat did install in the 1GB machine. I wouldn't think the problem was with the programs I had already installed in the VM -- those were just Palm Desktop and Microsoft Office. Anyway, after my lovely chat with an Adobe representative to activate the software -- a process I hate more with each passing Windows malfunction -- I had a working Acrobat installation in a virtual machine. So I deleted WXSOfcPure, the undersized clone, and installed Palm and Office in this newer WXMOfcPure model. One drawback of using clones of clones was that I kept forgetting to defragment them before cloning them. As noted earlier, fragmentation apparently becomes hard-wired, i.e., irreversible, in the clone. But now I remembered, and after defragging it was time to make another clone. I had my pure Office virtual machine -- pure, as I called it, in the sense of not being screwed up by any Microsoft updates other than the two Office 2003 service packs I had previously downloaded and decided to go ahead and install. I had installed Acrobat updates, however, and had also configured Office, Acrobat, and Palm Desktop -- to make sure, among other things, that the data they used was stored on a separate data partition, so that deleting this virtual machine would not take my data too. I was ready to install some updates on a new clone, WXMOfcUpd. I just hoped they would not take too much disk space, because with just WinXP and these few programs installed, I was already using 8.1GB of my 10GB virtual drive. I noticed that about 1.5GB of that was in C:\pagefile.sys, though, so I went into Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance Settings > Advanced > Virtual Memory Change to move the paging file to another drive. But here, too, the virtual machine knew only one drive, i.e., drive C, the one that was built into it. It could not see any of my other partitions. So I left it at a system-managed size. TreeSize counted differently, for some reason, finding a total of 7,516MB on the drive (including pagefile.sys), of which 2,903MB was in the Program Files folder and 2,174 in the Windows folder. In Program Files, the largest subfolder was Adobe, with 1.78GB of files. The moral of the story was probably that, to allow breathing room, a virtual machine requiring 1GB of RAM might need 15GB of disk space. Not that the machine clearly did require that much RAM; FreeRam was now reporting about 650MB free with Word, Excel, Acrobat, and Palm Desktop all open. In the interests of security, I decided to make another change to all of my virtual machines. I right-clicked on the ZoneAlarm icon in the system tray, selected Restore ZoneAlarm Control Center, and clicked on the big red Stop button to stop all Internet traffic. (As I noticed shortly thereafter, I could have just right-clicked on the tray icon and selected "Stop all Internet activity.") I did that because, despite the use of a router and my NAT connection through Ubuntu, ZoneAlarm was reporting that it had blocked a few intrusions since installation. I did not expect to be going online in most of these VMs; I wanted to give myself an incentive to take the extra step and switch out to Ubuntu, where I could use Firefox, instead of using the easy route and running Internet Explorer within the VM. On another level, I decided it was high time to make sure Firestarter, the Ubuntu firewall, would also start up automatically as soon as I booted into Ubuntu, because Firestarter was indicating that it had experienced one "Serious" inbound event since installation on the primary computer. There may have been others; I had not always remembered to turn it on right away. I had clicked Firestarter's Preferences > Firewall > Start/restart firewall on program startup (and also on dial-out and DHCP lease renewal), but that did not seem to be happening reliably. But several commentators said that Firestarter itself did start automatically, although its GUI did not. Apparently the GUI was just there to give you a chance to see what had been going on. I decided not to take the additional installation steps needed to make sure the Firestarter GUI or icon were automatically visible after each login. I cleaned up a few miscellaneous items. First, I removed Internet Information Services from Windows (Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs > Add/Remove Windows Components) in each VM, which I had always installed -- to assist with FrontPage, I think, but I now hoped to do my webpage editing in Ubuntu somehow. I also renamed the computer inside each VM (Control Panel > System > Computer Name > Change), since clones carried the name of their source and produced "A duplicate name exists on the network" error messages if the two of them were booted up simultaneously. Then I cloned WXMOfcPure to WXMOfcUpd. I went to Microsoft Office Updates and installed everything they had. That's *Office* updates, as distinct from *Windows* updates, which I still had not installed. When the Office updates were all installed, I had used 8.7GB including pagefile.sys, leaving 1.3GB for further installations. While that was underway, I looked at what was going on in other virtual machines. WXS-AlwOn was still running a Second Copy 2000 backup; meanwhile, it had frozen at the process of uninstalling Windows's Internet Information Services. When I tried to kill that stalled process, the whole virtual machine crashed and Windows rebooted. This was the second or third time I had seen a crash like that since starting to work in VMware. It was par for the course for Windows, as far as I was concerned. VMware Workstation had actually seemed to help Windows XP boot faster and function more stably. Anyway, when it rebooted, Second Copy 2000 resumed, and I tried again on the IIS uninstallation. This time it worked. After installing the Office updates and rebooting, the system still seemed pretty responsive. In some ways, WinXP in VMware actually seemed more responsive than its native form. If I clicked on the Start button, menus came up immediately. I noticed that GIFs were somewhat hyperactive. For example, a file-moving operation in Windows Explorer would ordinarily be accompanied by a dialog window that showed sheets of paper moving from one computer to another. In a virtual machine, those sheets zipped across more quickly. At the same time, the actual operations sometimes seemed slower. It was as if VMware had rigged the system to make it act snappier, even if in fact it was somewhat slower. That was, to some extent, all right with me: I appreciated that responsiveness. If the system wanted to take its sweet time, I could often switch to some other window and do something else. Still, considering that I hoped to use this system for a couple of years, it was worth my while to make sure it was fast enough at the things I told it to do. Also, there was that RAM limit on the number of virtual machines I could have open at the same time. So I went ahead with ordering more RAM and a faster processor. At present, I was using 4GB of RAM with a dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ @ 800 MHz, according to PC Wizard 2007, which was able to provide this information from within a virtual machine where, contrary to my expectations, AIDA32 could not. But when the new equipment arrived, I would have 6GB of RAM -- all accessible, thanks to 64-bit Ubuntu -- and my CPU would be an AMD Phenom 8450 2.1GHz AM2+ three-core CPU. I had barely finished writing those words when the UPS delivery man showed up. Newegg really moved the merchandise! I had expected it would be another couple of days but, no, here it was. So, OK, I shut down the primary machine and installed the goods, wondering why the seal on the CPU box was broken. I booted up the computer and -- nothing. The CPU was dead. I tried a couple of times. Nothing. I took it out and RMA'd it back to Newegg. Why they would send me a CPU that someone else had already opened -- one that whoever opened it apparently returned to Newegg -- that, I don't know. Just another hassle. I wrote a review for Newegg's website, and that was when I discovered the rule that says they won't publish a review that is critical of them. So let's consider it a letter to the editor. So after that 45-minute interruption, which would be repeated when I got yet another replacement CPU from Newegg, I got back to what I had been working on. Since the Office updates had taken only about 600MB after installation, I thought I might be able to squeeze in the Windows updates too. Then again, previous experience suggested that Windows, for reasons unknown to me, would continue to swell, taking many more GB of disk space before it was done. I decided not to run into that problem halfway through Windows updates or some other process; instead, I would tackle it now, if I could. So before starting VMware, following instructions, I ran this command in Terminal:
vmware-vdiskmanager -x 15GB /home/ray/vmware /WXMOfcUpd/WinXPBasic-000001-cl6.vmdk
(That's all supposed to fit on one line.) The idea was to make it point to wherever your VM's VMDK file is. I could have specified something larger than 15GB, but I figured I was going to be making backups and clones and so forth. Extra size could be a problem as well as a solution: extra time to copy, extra space needed for the backup, etc. Anyway, just like that, I got a message, "Disk expansion completed successfully." I started VMware Workstation and took a peek at WXMOfcUpd. Its drive C Properties said it was still 10GB, so I would have to take the other step recommended in those instructions: I would have to resize the virtual partition to accommodate the larger virtual drive. A little unintuitive, but that's life. What I needed to do now was to boot from the GParted CD (or, I think, any Ubuntu or other Linux live CD) inside the virtual machine. That is, instead of letting Windows load in the WXMOfcUpd virtual machine, I would have the virtual machine try to load a CD first. For that, I had to interrupt the virtual boot process and enter the virtual BIOS settings. So I rebooted WXMOfcUpd and kept hitting F2 as soon as the screen went black, after "Windows is shutting down ..." What they were using there was a PhoenixBIOS Setup Utility. Using arrow keys (no mouse in there), I went to Boot > CD-ROM Drive and hit + to move it up the list. Then I put the GParted CD in the physical CD drive and hit F10 to save and exit. The result was pretty cool: the CD actually did run inside the virtual machine. GParted saw only one drive, /dev/sda, with just one partition, /dev/sda1 (PROGRAMS, 10GB), along with a 5GB area labeled "unallocated." So I right-clicked on the PROGRAMS (C) drive and selected Resize/Move and made its new size equal to the Maximum Size specified there. That just took a minute. I removed the GParted CD and rebooted into the virtual drive, wondering if the reboot would be slowed down by the BIOS's check for a bootable CD. It didn't seem to be. So I probably should have set all of my virtual machine BIOSes to check the CD-ROM first. Anyway, WXMOfcUpd booted just fine, although more slowly than before, and now its drive C Properties reported 8.7GB used out of a total disk size of 14.9GB. I closed and cloned WXMOfcUpd to WXMUpdated. While that was underway, I restarted WXS-AlwOn. It started very slowly with that cloning process going on. In fact, it really did not finish starting up until the cloning was done. Having shut down and restarted Ubuntu, I had to add and map shared folders once again to WXS-AlwOn so that it could resume its Second Copy 2000 disk backup process. I started WXMUpdated and verified that, despite the change in size and the cloning, WinXP in that virtual machine was still activated. I checked the system tray and saw that VMware Tools was still running. All was well. So I went ahead and started installing all available Windows updates on WXMUpdated, to add to the Office updates I had installed on WXMOfcUpd. Meanwhile, I needed to print a couple of webpages. As noted earlier, I was concerned about reports (and my own experience so far) indicating that my Canon MF5770 printer/scanner was not at all Linux-compatible, and I was hopeful about VMware's claim, as I understood it, that all I needed to print from inside a virtual machine was a Windows-compatible printer, which this was. So I printed the webpages to Ubuntu's default PDF printer on the secondary computer and copied them over by jump drive to the primary computer. This exposed a problem I had noticed earlier: Ubuntu didn't seem to be doing a very good job of handling the USB jump drives. There was one, a Lexar 256MB drive, that it didn't recognize at all, so I had used a 512MB Kingston flash drive instead. But there were problems there too. At this moment, there were three files that Ubuntu's File Browser wouldn't copy from the Kingston and also wouldn't let me delete them. I right-clicked it, but the context menu didn't include a "Format drive" option. Jim Hutchinson advised typing "gksudo nautilus" to open a session of File Browser as root. I did that and went back to the Kingston. I tried to copy and paste (the cutting option was greyed out) from the jump drive to my hard drive but got, "There is nothing on the clipboard to paste." "Move to Trash" was also grayed out. I just hit the Delete key with those items on the jump drive selected, and got "Cannot move to trash, do you want to delete immediately?" I said "Delete all," but then I got "Error while deleting." Chameleon Dave suggested typing "gksudo gparted" to format the jump drive that way. GParted saw the jump drive as a 486MB unallocated partition. I tried formatting it to FAT32, but that gave me, "An error occurred while applying the operations." I checked the Details report for that, but it didn't seem to explain the problem. It looked like maybe I had been trying to do the same thing twice. In any case, the files were still there on the jump drive. I unmounted the drive from the first computer and put it back into the secondary computer. File Browser no longer recognized it as "Kingston." Now it was just "USB Drive"; and when I double-clicked on it, I got "Unable to mount location. Can't mount file." I put it back into the primary computer and tried accessing it from Windows within a virtual machine. But when I tried to look for it in Windows Explorer, or to add it as a shared folder, it wasn't there. VMware wasn't seeing it. At the moment, it appeared that the attempt to format the flash drive in Ubuntu had ruined it. This left the original problem, which was that I needed to try using a virtual machine on the primary computer to print some PDFs that I had created on the secondary computer. Some of those PDFs had come over on the jump drive; some had been corrupted in the copying process and were still marooned on the secondary computer. I tried printing one of those that had made the journey. I did not have Acrobat installed on the virtual machine that I happened to use, but that was OK; I had installed Foxit Reader as a permanently installed freeware PDF reader on drive D, so as long as D was a shared drive, I could open PDFs with Foxit. I told Foxit to print this document, and it offered the Canon MF5700 Series as one of the printing options. I clicked Print ... and nothing happened. My printer drivers were installed; my printer was visible from within the VM; but it was not printing. I posted a question on that. I mentioned that I got a processor from Newegg that was DOA. I didn't comment on the RAM. I plugged it in, started the computer, and saw that the initial screen did recognize 6GB of RAM. To see if those extra 2GB made a difference, I tried opening all of my virtual machines at once. This produced the "Not enough physical memory is available to power on this virtual machine" error message. I killed Workstation and restarted it in Terminal using "sudo vmware," and then went to Edit > Preferences > Memory and changed the amount of RAM reserved to 4,384 of 5,384, leaving 1,000MB available to Ubuntu for other purposes. (I assumed the difference between 6GB and 5,384MB was due to Workstation already reserving a bunch for Ubuntu and itself.) I killed Workstation and restarted it from the Applications menu. I tried again to open all of my existing VMs. As I was trying to start the third or fourth one, Ubuntu crashed and restarted. I got the "not enough physical memory" error message as I was powering up the sixth of my seven VMs. So what I was able to open was two 1GB virtual machines and three 512MB VMs, for a total of 3.5GB. I killed one of the three half-gig machines and tried to power up another 1GB machine, but that got another error message. I calculated 1GB = 1,024MB, therefore 4GB = 4,096MB. So my 4,384MB should have been adequate for three 1GB machines and two half-gig machines. Evidently there was some additional overhead associated with each VM, in addition to whatever Workstation may have been reserving overall. If I needed to open that many machines at once, I would have to research how much I would need to add to my 4,384MB pool to accommodate them. It seemed that perhaps that 1,000MB cushion was more than enough. Next, I began once again to enable sharing for all of my partitions in some of the VMs. I removed the shares from the first such VM, WXS-AlwOn, because I was still getting that error message, "The path does not exist on this host," in VM > Settings > Options > Shared Folders > Properties, each time I restarted Workstation. After setting up all of the shares for that VM, I clicked on "Save." The dialog box turned mostly grey and just sat there for quite a while, with only infrequent disk action. I guessed that the crash had somewhat confused VMware. Later, while I was working with another VM, the tab for WXS-AlwOn started flashing. I went back to it and saw a warning dialog, "This tab cannot be closed while the virtual machine is busy." I clicked OK and continued doing something else. I hadn't tried to close it, so I didn't know what that warning was about. Same thing happened again after a while. The Folder Sharing box was still there, still greyed out. Finally I just clicked on the X in its upper-right corner and it closed. The attempt to set up sharing seemed to have failed; I was not able to progress in the attempt to map network drives. I restarted that VM and tried again with the sharing settings. The shares I had set up were still there. I clicked Save and got this error message:
A configuration state change operation is already in progress. Your changes will not be saved.
I hadn't made any changes, and OK was the only option anyway, so I clicked OK. Then I clicked Cancel instead of Save. It seemed to me that VMware was a little screwed up, so I paused on this effort for the moment. While fiddling with those VMs, I noticed that ZoneAlarm was not remembering the setting I had created for it during the previous VM session. Before powering down each VM, I was right-clicking on the ZoneAlarm icon in the WinXP system tray and selecting "Stop all Internet activity." This would produce a padlock icon in the system tray, in place of ZoneAlarm's normal Z icon. But when I would shut down and start up the VM again, the Z icon would be back. (It did seem to remember to keep the padlock if I suspended a VM rather than powering it down.) This prompted me to explore ZoneAlarm's Control Center, where I discovered another option. Under Program Control > Main, there was an Automatic Lock. I turned that on and set its Lock Mode to "Lock when screensaver activates" and, When Lock Engages, to "Block all Internet access." I then set the screensaver to turn on after five minutes and, while I was at it, I set the power options to include a shutdown of hard drives after one hour. I also changed some other power options. I was thinking I might want to change the screensaver; but after I looked at one or two of the alternatives that WinXP offered, Windows crashed and my VM was powered off. I powered it back on, but it powered itself off again before it finished booting. I tried again, and it froze partway through bootup with a dialog message:
userinit.exe - DLL Initialization Failed The application failed to initialize because the window station is shutting down.
Eventually, I clicked OK on that. Nothing further seemed to be happening. This was in the WX512K machine. After five or ten minutes, I powered it off and restarted it. I got the same DLL Initialization Failed dialog. I powered down the VM again. I decided that VMware needed to start over, so I began closing down the various VMs I had powered up. I was left with two, WX1GB and WXS-AlwOn, that were stuck in twilight: not booting up, not powering down, just black. I clicked on the X on their tabs, to close them, and got this warning:
This tab cannot be closed while the virtual machine is busy.
I got the same error message in each of these two VMs when I selected File > Quit from the VMware menu. I found only a couple of postings with this problem, and neither of them ended with a solution or even with suggestions I could apply here. I did a search for the Force-Quit button and instead wound up with this approach:
Alt-F2 > 'xkill' > Enter Click the X on whatever you want to kill.
and that worked. I restarted Workstation and was now able to power up WX1GB and WXS-AlwOn. I examined the shares in the latter. They were intact and without errors in their Properties -- a welcome feature that seemed to work when the VMs crashed or were suspended. I clicked Save, as before, and the shares box closed normally. I tried again to adjust the WinXP screen saver and once again got some unorthodox behavior. On the first one, the VMware screen went through some resizings before settling down. On the second one, I got this:
Direct3D Flying Objects Screen Saver has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
Same thing when I tried it again. So I settled for the Starfield screen saver, and adjusted it to kick in after five minutes and set the other settings as described above. I was just about finished when it happened again: the machine powered down. I started it up again, opened Control Panel > Display, and then decided to run Advanced WindowsCare (AWC). But before that program could run, the machine crashed again. So I started again and went straight for AWC. Another crash. I tried for Safe Mode, hitting F8 repeatedly, right after powering up the machine. Not fast enough, I guess; I went into Normal Mode again. I tried for AWC again. Another shutdown. This was about the time when I realized that I did not have a backup of WXS-AlwOn. I restarted. This time it shut down without waiting for me to try AWC. I closed WX1GB. Now WXS-AlwOn was the only tab open in Workstation. I tried starting it again. This time, without hitting F2 or F8, it gave me the option to boot into Safe Mode, which I took. I ran AWC and allowed it to correct registry errors. I ran it again. No more problems. I went to Start > Run > CMD > Enter and typed "chkdsk /r" and scheduled it to run on reboot. I then rebooted. It booted and then shut down. So now I had an object lesson in why I was switching to Ubuntu and VMware. It would be mildly painful to reconstruct WXS-AlwOn from scratch, but really it probably would take less time than I had already devoted to this troubleshooting effort. It certainly was easier to fix one VM than to fix a complete WinXP installation. Before deleting WXS-AlwOn, I decided to try making the same adjustments to another VM. I closed WXS-AlwOn and powered up WX1GB. AWC reported no problems. I did get the same error message with Direct3d Flying Objects Screen Saver. But otherwise the changed Power and Display settings went without a problem, and when I clicked Apply ... Windows crashed. Just like above. I powered on WX1GB once again, and it just hung. I powered it off -- this time, using the Power Off button instead of Windows' Start button, because the latter never came into existence -- and powered it on again. But no, "DLL Initialization Failed," as before. I now had two dysfunctional VMs. This prompted some reflection into the nature of the situation. These two VMs came from different branches of the clone family tree. As I recalled, I had differentiated the 512K parent of WXS-AlwOn and the 1GB model found in WX1GB at an early stage. In other words, if this reaction to my adjustment to screen savers and power settings -- a reaction I didn't recall ever seeing before, in my years with Windows -- was due to a bad gene in the family gene pool, then its problems may have started with Adam and Eve, with the very first WinXPBasic setup I had created using VMware Converter. Yes, I could stop trying to make those adjustments. But if this could happen with these two machines, then it could happen with any two, and possibly not just for this reason. There might be other problems of this sort that would emerge down the line. The problem I was running into, here, was that I was still working with Windows. I wasn't trying to do anything fancy -- just install a few programs and get back to work. Or possibly, as I thought about it, maybe the problem was with VMware, not Windows. Maybe VMware was trashing my carefully built virtual machines when I made the mistake of pressing on a few wrong buttons. I wondered -- was there a repair mode for this VMware Workstation installation? You know, in Windows, if Office or some other program started acting up, sometimes they would include a repair option when you went to remove it using Add or Remove Programs. I didn't see an option of that nature on Workstation's Help menu, and a quick Google search didn't turn up anything obvious. The Workstation User's Manual (p. 134) said that you could at least repair the VMware Tools installation using VM > Install VMware Tools, but I didn't see a repair option there, just an Install option. I could have tested the situation by dual-booting back into WinXP and trying the same adjustments of Display and Power settings in Control Panel there, but I wasn't confident that I had a reliable backup of my WinXP installation. Drive Image 2002, my normal program for the purpose, was balking with this particular installation -- which made me think that perhaps the problem really was with the original installation. Before trying that, I powered up WXSOccnl, to make sure it was still OK. I went into a few folders, fiddled around a bit; it seemed solid. I closed it down and cloned it to WXS-Test. Then I opened WXS-Test and ran Start > Run > sfc /scannow. After that, I tried the same Display and Power Adjustments. I got the same "Direct3D Flying Objects Screen Saver has encountered a problem" error message, and when I saved my settings, the machine shut down, just like the others; and on reboot, it shut down again by itself, just like the others. I concluded from this that (a) Advanced WindowsCare was not causing the problem and (b) System File Checker (sfc /scannow) was not solving it. Going to perhaps the last stop before the end of the line for WXS-Test, I booted the machine while pressing F2, as described above, but that was not sufficient to get it to put me into its BIOS settings. My mistake, as I learned from Workstation User's Manual p. 215, was that I first had to click inside its VM window and then press F2 while it was booting. But I couldn't get that to work. After multiple failed tries, I just hit VMware's Power Off button as soon as it started to boot up; and after one or two times, it gave me the option to boot into Safe Mode. I did that and told it to restart, and kept hitting F2 as soon as the screen went black. That did the trick. Now I was ready to get off at that last stop before the end of the line. I set the BIOS to boot the CD-ROM first; put the Windows XP installation CD in the drive; and hit F10 to save and exit. But I still had to be pretty fast on the "Press any key to boot from CD" option. When I finally got it right, the WinXP CD loaded, and I hit Enter to set up Windows. But this gave me this message:
Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer. Make sure any hard disk drives are powered on and properly connected to your computer, and that any disk-related hardware configuration is correct.
and so forth. So apparently the hard drive did not come into virtual existence if the CD loaded first. So it was the end of the line for the newly dysfunctional WXS-Test VM. I deleted it. Then I used WXSOccnl to clone another copy of WXS-Test. I booted WXS-Test. This time, I did all the same adjustments as before, except one: I did not click on the one screen saver that had caused the VMware screen to readjust itself in ways that did not look good and then crashed, namely, 3D Flying Objects. But that wasn't it. Once again, the system powered itself down; and when I powered it back up, it powered itself down again. I wondered if the problem had to do with the Power settings that I was adjusting, rather than with the Display settings, so I powered it on and then hit Workstation's Power Off button while the Windows XP logo screen was first loading. Then, when I powered it on again, I had the Safe Mode option. I went into Control Panel > Power Options and set things as they had been before, to the extent possible. (Some power options were not visible in Safe Mode.) I then restarted the virtual machine into WinXP's Normal Mode. This time, it did not crash. I went back into Power Options and made changes, one at a time, until I could identify the culprit. The problem, it seemed, was on the Power Options > UPS tab. When I identified the manufacturer of my Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) as being American Power Conversion (APC), and designated it as a Back-UPS model and clicked Apply and then OK, that caused the machine to shut down. My guess was that the UPS and the virtual machine were not communicating via the USB cable that would normally enable the computer to know when we had switched to backup power, and to make adjustments accordingly. Possibly the computer was sensing that we were already on backup power, or that there was no power, and was therefore trying to shut down the computer as soon as possible to preserve it. This prompted a belated search of the APC downloads page, to see if they had a version of their software that I could run in Ubuntu rather than in a virtual machine. They didn't seem to. So I posted a question to them on their website. Now that I had identified the problem, I went back through my virtual machines, forcing them into Safe Mode as necessary, and reversing the Power > UPS options that had caused the problem. After doing so, the machines all seemed stable, and I was back in business. So I resumed installing Microsoft Windows updates in WXMUpdated. In this process, I had to adjust the ZoneAlarm automatic lock so that it would "Allow pass-lock programs to access the Internet," because otherwise the screen saver would kick in after five minutes, and that would trigger the lock, while WinXP was trying to download and install numerous updates, and the downloads would fail. But that wasn't the only problem affecting the effort to download. The Microsoft Update webpage, accessed in Internet Explorer, gave me this:
The website has encountered a problem and cannot display the page you are trying to view.
It proceeded to offer various options. I selected the bottom line: "Read more about steps you can take to resolve this problem (error number 0x80072EE2) yourself." The bottom lines of the next screen offered two different resolutions. Both of them made me think ZoneAlarm was the culprit. Not having had this problem before, I thought maybe Internet Explorer was just remembering that it had been blocked previously, so I killed it and restarted Microsoft Update. That solved the problem. I decided that the five-minute screensaver time limit was a little hasty, so I switched it back to 10 minutes in this WXMUpdated VM. The updates went smoothly after that. While the update process was underway, I decided not to pursue, at this time, the transfer of my e-mail from Microsoft Outlook 2003 to a Linux program. I had done some initial Google searches to learn how people dealt with this. It sounded like one popular technique was to transfer Outlook data to the Thunderbird e-mail program, for some reason, and from there to the Evolution e-mail program. I wasn't sure about the advantages of Evolution, and apparently people ran into quite a few issues while making this transition. My university was Outlook-oriented, although there seemed to be possible workarounds for that too. But I was eager to get back into a productive mode with this system, and I felt that postponing this particular issue for a while might save me some headaches as people continued to work out the best solutions. Microsoft Updates installed, among other things, Microsoft Desktop Search. There were indications that that program could be better than Google Desktop Search in some ways. But there were also indications that it could affect performance dramatically, and that a lot of people found it to be a drag on performance or were otherwise unhappy with it. Since I had already decided to try installing Google Desktop Search in Ubuntu, I prepared to uninstall it. They recommended using Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs for this. I did that, but it was still on my desktop, but no longer visible in Add or Remove Programs. I clicked "Show updates" in Add or Remove Programs, and that seemed to make the difference. Now I could see Windows Search 4.0. I rebooted and it was gone. I went into Microsoft Update, selected the Custom button, and there it was, as a "Software, Optional" update. I clicked its plus (+) sign and clicked "Don't show this update again" and then "Review and install updates" and it was gone. That completed my installation of updates in WXMUpdated. Now I had some more loose ends to clean up. First, on that problem where my external hard drive was not recognized, I followed the advice to edit my fstab file, by entering these commands in Terminal, more or less as I had done early on in this post:
sudo -i cd /etc gedit fstab
Once in fstab, I edited it to have these lines:
# /dev/deb5 mount /dev/sdd5 /media/OFFSITE ntfs-3g force 0 0
That second line wasn't exactly the same as the recommended "mount /dev/sdd5 /media/external," but I hoped it would give me OFFSITE rather than "external" as a listed device. It basically incorporated what was already in the fstab file. When I typed that in Terminal, I got what looked like a tutorial on the proper use of the "mount" command. But it also looked, in File Browser, like OFFSITE was now recognized. The next morning, with the external drive turned off, I booted up and noticed an error message in the Ubuntu commands that processed early in the bootup process:
Buffer I/O error on device sde5, logical block 1545
I realized I had forgotten to turn on the external drive. I did that, rebooted, and the message was gone. Once the system booted and I had VMware on and WXS-AlwOn booted up, I checked the available drives in Windows Explorer. Interestingly, the one that I had listed in fstab, to be recognized on bootup, was also automatically recognized in VMware. No need for the usual VM > Settings > Options > Shared Folders manual addition procedure, followed by the WinEx > Tools > Map Network Drive procedure. This gave me the idea of setting up all my drives that way. I wasn't sure exactly what commands to use, so I posted a question on it. I wanted to install IrfanView on Ubuntu on the primary computer, for image editing, just as I had installed it in Ubuntu on the secondary computer. When I followed the instructions that had worked on the secondary machine, however, this process was not successful. So, at least until I had time and inclination to work through it in detail, it seemed I would be doing my image editing on the primary computer in Windows within VMware, where I had successfully installed IrfanView. Another possibility was to work with Applications > Graphics > GIMP Image Editor. In this process of cleaning up some loose ends, I lost some notes on specific programs. I had opened them in draft form in another post in, but for some reason they were gone after a reboot. It also seemed that there must have been a number of loose ends that I did not completely explore or wrap up, that had emerged as I was going through the process of writing these several long posts on the whole Ubuntu and VMware installation; but at this time I did not have an opportunity to go back through all those materials to see what I had left undone. While I had been playing with ZoneAlarm, it had occurred to me that I also had the option of enabling the Internet lock in Firestarter, for the entire computer. To make that option readily available, I decided I wanted the Firestarter icon to be always visible, after all. The advice for this was to put "gnome-sudo firestarter" in the /system/preferences/session file. I couldn't figure that out -- there didn't seem to be such a thing -- so I looked again and found a tutorial on this. But the information in the tutorial did not match what was supposed to appear in the /etc/sudoers file, and its instructions on editing that file -- using visudo, I think -- did not help me understand how to make the suggested changes. That editor did not respond like a normal editor. I used File > Close Windows to close the Terminal session and tried again, and this time I got a message indicating that the previous session crashed and I should delete the previous swap file; but when I started to type something to do that, the instructions disappeared. So I closed the Terminal session again and gave up on that tutorial. I had heard that Firestarter's icon might eventually become a standard feature or option for users installing future versions, so I left it at that for now. Another loose end: I had been meaning to update my router's firmware. The router seemed to be working fine now, but I had gotten the impression that doing so would enhance security. Unfortunately, Firefox in Ubuntu on the secondary computer saw nothing on the Linksys download page. I couldn't download the firmware update. But I shut down Firefox and rebooted Ubuntu, and then the download link was visible. The update, and also the user's manual, seemed to download, but I could not figure out where they had gone. They weren't on my desktop, or in my Home or PDF or Documents folders. After five or ten minutes of searching, I decided this was something I was going to have to fool with later, when I was more into it. Right now, I really wanted to get back to productive work on the computer. Same thing for the idea of adding my Microsoft Word AutoCorrect entries to OpenOffice Writer. I figured that, if I could get those shorthand entries over to OOW, I'd be able to make that transition, and that would be one less thing I would need from Microsoft and VMware. But the connection to that OO discussion kept timing out, and I was getting impatient. It seemed, more generally, that I was going to have to accept that there would be a lot of additional work to do before I would be able to complete the transition away from Microsoft-related products -- that, most likely, it would be a matter of months or years before that transition would be complete. Next time I had a problem with Word, I would be motivated to try that again; but right now, I was not. At this point, a couple of weeks had passed since I had started this post. I had covered a lot of ground. There was still a lot to do, but it appeared my progress would be slower now, because I had to turn my attention to other things. I decided to close this post and take up those other items in a subsequent post.