Sunday, October 30, 2005

Virtual Server 2005 nightmare

I am frantically finishing up my demonstration machines for the Exchange Connections conference. I built all of these virtual machines running on a desktop using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. However, when I copied them over to my new Dell D810 laptop (2gb of RAM, 2.1GB Pentium M, 7200RPM drive) , the performance is absolutely terrible. The VMs are sometimes just fine and other times they are slow, they hang up/freeze up, the mouse stops responding, file copies from a shared folder on the host fails, and they keyboard shortcuts work sometimes and sometimes they don't. And, often the performance is bad even with just one VM running.

I have spent the past couple of days trying to get this thing tweaked. Apparently, based on what I have read, I am not alone. So, here is some things I have learned that might (or might not) help you when you are running virtual server (or Microsoft Virtual PC) on a laptop. These are in no particular order, though the power configuration / speed stepping features seem to be the most important.

  • Check for a more recent version of the system BIOS
  • Disable antivirus and antispam software
  • Disable the CPU's speed step features that slow the CPU down when it is on battery or goes idle. This is designed to save battery power, but it throws the Virtual PC in to disarray. On some laptops, this is done in the BIOS, others have got software settings that do this.
  • If you are having networking problems, see if KB 888750 applies to you
  • Update the virtual machine additions to a later version (see KB 900076 - at this time, only the beta version of the next SP is available)
  • Disabling all unnecessary services
  • Setting Windows to maximum performance (to turn off a lot of the interface enhancements)

Virtual Server 2005 is not great on a laptop, but at least it has become tolerable. Thanks to Scott Schnoll for sitting down with me and helping me tweak and tune the laptop a little more.


At 12:27 AM, Blogger eentropy said...

I found one big and one small problem with VS 2005 on my Windows XP-based desktop. The big problem - every day, VS 2005 frozing after few up-time hours. Only reboot helps me. (Hex, i always read readme's and know that Microsoft isn't supporting VS 2005 on Windows XP)

I hope, Virtual Server 2005 R2 will help me.

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