fun with virtualization

One of the estate-related items on my to-do list has been to get rid of my Dad’s old PC. It’s an old Dell Windows XP Home machine. Not too old, but not really worth keeping. I did, however, want to keep his files, of course. My brilliant plan was to do a P2V migration on it, and set it up as a virtual machine either on my dektop PC (using Virtual PC) or on my Mac (using VMWare Fusion). To that end, I downloaded the Sysinternals Disk2vhd tool and the VMWare converter. I ran both on the PC, just in case.

Now, the one thing I forgot with all this is that Dad’s copy of XP was preinstalled on his PC by Dell, which pretty much means that you can’t run it on anything other than an actual Dell PC. (I should have remembered this, since we ran into the same problem at work some time ago, but I completely forgot.) So, I wound up with two virtual hard drive images which were both perfectly fine and perfectly useless.

I tried working around this by entering a valid, non-Dell, XP product key at the activation screen, but that didn’t work. And I tried doing a repair install of XP, but that didn’t work either. Then, I came up with the bright idea of upgrading the VPC to Vista. That also didn’t work, since you can only do an upgrade install if you boot into XP first, and run it from there, not if you boot from the Vista DVD. And I can’t get past the XP login screen.

I can think of a few possible ways around this, but the whole thing was starting to get frustrating, so I punted and went back to Dad’s computer and just ran the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard on his account. I then restored his files & settings to a new account on an existing XP VPC on my desktop machine. That seems to have worked out OK. I just used the defaults on the FAST wizard, which seems to have sucked up quite a bit of data, including a bunch of stuff that can’t possibly be necessary, but I guess that’s OK.

I still have the option of going back to Dad’s (real) PC and doing an upgrade of some kind on it, either to Vista or maybe from XP Home to XP Pro, so it’s not using the Dell-specific install anymore. Then, I’d have to go back and run the P2V tool(s) on it again. I think I’m OK with the way things are now, though.

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