Installing Windows Home Server in a VMware Virtual Machine

I have Windows Home Server (WHS) installed in VMware vSphere (ESXi) which is great becuase I don’t need to have another box running 24/7. These instructions should work for other VMware products.

Installing WHS in a virtual machine is quite straight forward if you make a few provisions during installation:

  • choose Vista as the guest operating system
  • allocate at least 512 Mb of RAM ¹
  • allocate at least 80 Gb of storage to virtual hard disk you are installing WHS on ²

I am also going to assume that you are going to install WHS on a virtual SCSI hard drive:

  • choose BusLogic rather than the recommended default of LsiLogic
  • mount the vmscsi- (available from VMware) so that SCSI drivers can be loaded
  • once the VM reboots during installation you will need to press F6 to install additional drivers from the virtual floppy

Other than that I would recommend checking your boot order in the Bios of your virtual machine – you will have an .iso and a virtual floppy mounted and you don’t want the virtual machine to try and boot from the floppy after a reboot during the install. Once the install is complete install VMware Tools.

I am contemplating running the next iteration of WHS (Vail) on a dedicated box with the following caveats. Firstly the boot drive must have redundancy – I do not want to have to set up addins (or potentially SharePoint) again if the boot drive fails. I am interested in the Tranquil PC Safe Server Module for providing redundancy. Secondly the dedicated box must have a low idle power consumption.

¹I have 1 Gb of RAM allocated to my virtual machine. When WHS is idle my Active Guest Memory (AGM) might dip as low as almost 100 Mb. However there are processes that need to run on WHS (and I have a backup utility than backs up to the cloud as well) and during these times my AGM goes up to around 700 Mb.

² You will want at least two virtual hard drives (on two separate physical disks) if you are going to use folder duplication in WHS. I have four virtual hard drives each 500 Gb in size in my virtualized setup.

An evaluation of WHS is available from Microsoft.

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