Virtual PC (VPC) techniques for developers

I’m starting my studies of Sharepoint and MOSS, so it occurred to me that creating a Microsoft Virtual PC image of Windows Server 2008 along with SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 SP1, and other useful tools would be a good idea. I’ve used VMWare and it’s great. But for a single developer who just wants a portable image that you can zip up and store on a USB stick, where you don’t need a whole virtualization infrastructure, VPC is ideal. One of the reasons I like it is that VPC doesn’t install a bunch of network drivers and Windows Services like VMWare Workstation or the free VMWare player.  VPC is nearly 100% “Self contained”, and doesn’t install any baggage at all on the host OS.

Also, Shawn Wildermuth told me that VPC runs faster, so I took him at his word.

The nice thing about all this is that the entire VPC control file and VHD expandable hard disk, with all of the software enumerated above,  7Zips down to just about 3GB – small enough to put on my  $7.99 Kingston Data Traveler 4GB USB stick that I got from buy.com (with the Google Checkout $10 rebate) – and leaves plenty of room for other stuff!

You can snag VPC from here. and the SP1 update here. Sorry, I don’t remember if the SP1 is a full install or whether you have to install VPC first.

One of the common mistakes developers make is to assume that a dynamic VHD hard disk will expand indefinitely. Nope! It will only expand to the initial maximum size you set when you created it. However, don’t despair! VHDResizer is a free tool that will take care of it!


HINT: After using VHDREsizer, you have to extend your C partition to include the new space!   Go to Computer Management --> Disk Management. You should see the extra space you added to the right of the C:/ drive.  Right click on the C:/ drive, then select Extend Volume. It should automatically add the new space.

My copy of Server 2008 on the VPC image is fully activated, and all the latest Windows Updates are applied. I’ve put it out on a network share so any of our devs who want this can simply install VPC, unzip my “thing”, and they’re good to go!  One neat thing I did was to modify the login policy to display the Administrator password right on the login message, so nobody who uses this will have to worry about finding the password to log-in. This will run on either Windows XP or Windows Vista.  You can even drag a file from the Host OS over into an Explorer window on the VPC and it will copy right over.  Plus, don’t forget that VMWare is capable of reading MS VPC VHD disk images. Have fun!

Codeplex SVN support

Recently my eggheadcafe.com site partner and I installed VisualSvn Server (free) and the newest AnkhSvn VisualStudio 2008 SCC –compliant plug-in (also free) and things have been working out famously. Coincidentally, I just saw that Codeplex now supports TortoiseSvn out of the box with no “bridge” or other installs.  That’s a real win!