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Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines

Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines

Certain operating systems use hardware profiles to load the appropriate drivers for a given set of hardware devices. If you have a dual-boot system and want to use a virtual machine to boot a previously installed operating system from an existing partition, you must set up "physical" and "virtual" hardware profiles.

Only users who are familiar with VMware Workstation virtual machines and the Windows hardware profiles concept should attempt this.

If you haven't already done so, review Configuring Dual- or Multiple-Boot Systems to Run with VMware Workstation before proceeding.

Each virtual machine provides a platform that consists of the following set of virtual devices:

  • Virtual DVD/CD-ROM
  • Virtual IDE and SCSI hard disk drives
  • Standard PCI graphics adapter
  • Standard floppy disk drive
  • Intel 82371 PCI Bus Master IDE controller
    (includes primary and secondary IDE controllers)
  • BusLogic BT-958 compatible SCSI host adapter
  • Standard 101/102-key keyboard
  • PS/2-compatible mouse
  • AMD PCnet-PCI II compatible Ethernet adapter
  • Serial ports (COM1-COM4)
  • Parallel ports (LPT1-LPT2)
  • Two-port USB hub
  • Sound card compatible with the Sound Blaster Ensoniq AudioPCI
  • 82093AA IOAPIC

This set of virtual devices is different from the set of physical hardware devices on the host computer and is independent of the underlying hardware with a few exceptions (the processor itself is such an exception). This feature provides a stable platform and allows operating system images installed within a virtual machine to be migrated to other physical machines, regardless of the configuration of the physical machine.

If an operating system is installed directly into a VMware Workstation virtual machine, the operating system properly detects all the virtual devices by scanning the hardware. However, if an operating system is already installed on the physical computer (for example, in a dual-boot configuration), the operating system already is configured to use the physical hardware devices. In order to boot such a preinstalled operating system in a virtual machine, you need to create separate hardware profiles in order to simplify the boot process.

Microsoft Windows operating systems, beginning with Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, allow you to create hardware profiles. Each hardware profile is associated with a set of known devices. If more than one hardware profile exists, the system prompts the user to choose between different hardware profiles at boot time.

Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 use Plug and Play at boot time to confirm that the actual devices match the chosen hardware profile. Mismatches lead to the automatic detection of new devices. Although this operation succeeds, it can be fairly slow.

Windows NT does not have Plug and Play support and uses the hardware profiles to initialize its devices. Mismatches lead to errors reported by the device drivers and the devices are disabled.

In order to set up hardware profiles for your physical and virtual machines, follow these steps:

  1. Before running VMware Workstation to boot an operating system previously installed on a disk partition, boot the operating system natively and create two hardware profiles, which you can call Physical Machine and Virtual Machine. To do this, open Control Panel > System, then click the Hardware Profiles tab - or click the Hardware tab, then click Hardware Profiles, depending on the operating system. Click the Copy button and name the copies appropriately.
  2. Windows NT only: While still running the operating system natively, use the Device Manager to disable some devices from the Virtual Machine hardware profile. To do this, open Control Panel > Devices, then select the individual devices to disable. Devices to disable in the Virtual Machine hardware profile include audio, MIDI and joystick devices, Ethernet and other network devices and USB devices. Remember to disable them in the Virtual Machine hardware profile only.

    Skip this step if you are running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. The initial Plug and Play phase detects device mismatches.

  3. Reboot the computer into your intended host operating system - for example, into Linux if you are running VMware Workstation on a Linux host.
  4. Use the New Virtual Machine Wizard to configure your virtual machine as described in Configuring Dual- or Multiple-Boot Systems to Run with VMware Workstation.
  5. Boot the virtual machine and use your existing boot manager to select the guest operating system. Choose Virtual Machine at the hardware profile menu prompt. You encounter device failure messages and delays during this initial boot.
  6. Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000 guests: After you log on to Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000 (now running as a guest operating system) you should see a Found New Hardware dialog box for the video controller as Plug and Play runs and discovers the virtual hardware. Do not install drivers at this time. Click Cancel to close the Found New Hardware dialog box.

    Do not reboot the virtual machine. Click No in the System Settings Change/Reboot dialog box.

    Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000 automatically detects and loads the driver for the AMD PCnet PCI Ethernet card. At this point, you should install VMware Tools inside the virtual machine. Allow the virtual machine to reboot after VMware Tools has been installed. Once Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000 reboots inside the virtual machine, select a new SVGA resolution from the Settings tab of the Display Properties dialog box to increase the size of the virtual machine's display window.

    Windows 95 and Windows 98 guests: You should see New Hardware Detected dialog boxes as Plug and Play runs and discovers the virtual hardware. Windows prompts you for locations to search for device drivers. Most of the device drivers are available in the existing operating system installation, but you may need the installation CD-ROM for some networking device drivers. Windows also asks you to reboot your system several times as it installs the device drivers.

    In some instances, Windows may not recognize the CD-ROM drive when it prompts you to insert the CD-ROM to look for device drivers during the initial hardware detection. In such cases, you can cancel the installation of the particular device or try pointing to C:\windows\system\ to search for device drivers on the hard disk. Any failed device installations may be performed at a later time after the CD-ROM drive is recognized.

    After Windows has installed the virtual hardware and its drivers, you can remove the failed devices corresponding to the physical hardware using the Device Manager (Control Panel > System > Device Manager).

    Select the device, then click the Remove button. If a device appears in multiple hardware profiles, you can select the hardware profile or profiles from which to remove the device.

    If you want to enable the virtual machine's sound adapter to work inside the Windows 9x guest operating system, finish the remaining steps in this section, then refer to Configuring Sound.

    Windows NT guests only: After the operating system has finished booting in the virtual machine, view the event log to see which physical devices have failed to start properly. You can disable them from the Virtual Hardware profile using the Device Manager (Control Panel > Devices).

    If you want to enable the virtual machine's sound adapter to work inside the Windows NT guest operating system, finish the remaining steps in this section, then refer to Configuring Sound.

  7. Confirm that your virtual devices - specifically, the network adapter - are working properly.

    Windows 95 and Windows 98 guests: If any virtual device is missing, you can detect it by running Control Panel > Add New Hardware.

  8. Install VMware Tools. VMware Tools appears and runs in both hardware configurations but affects only the virtual machine.

    Note: The next time you reboot Windows natively using the Physical Machine hardware profile, some virtual devices may appear in the device list. You can disable or remove these virtual devices from the Physical Machine hardware profile in the same way that you removed physical devices from the virtual machine hardware profile in step 6, above.

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