Virtualization Heaven

I recently got a new workstation with lots of memory (3 GB) and a big disk (750 GB), and it has significantly improved my life. Here’s how:

1) Since we’ve got MSDN, I get Virtual PC for free. Not as cool as VMWare, which has neat ways to manage the changes to your VM, but still good enough for me.

2) I did a patched up XP install and save the VM definition + the disk (vhd and vmc files) in VMs/Base XP. I seem to remember having to hack up the .vmc file to have it use a relative path to the disk. The disk is named ‘disk.vhd’ to save me work.

3) Whenever I want to do something possibly invasive, like test a beta of Visual Studio or something else that I would be pretty stupid to do on my main dev box, I simple clone the directory, rename the files, and go from there. The copy takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on what else I’m doing at the time.

4) I’ve also got a ‘Base XP Dev’ image with my development environment all set up that I can use for extended debugging sessions without having to tie up my normal environment. Particularly useful when doing a long-running automated test on an old version, when there are outdated COM APIs (I know, I know).

I don’t think I’m ready to go full-on virtual yet. I tried that once, but the responsiveness of the VM just wasn’t where it needed to be. Immediate feedback is very important to me, since I tend to move pretty fast through systems that I know well. Maybe someday when I get a quad core box and the VM apps can spread across multiple cores, I’ll give it another try.

In summary: virtualization makes me happy.

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