# Saturday, January 31, 2009

A common question for students during/after attending a Microsoft training: "Where do we get the virtual PC images we used during course?"

The answer is, you don't... Microsoft provides these images for classroom use only by Certified Partners for Learning Solutions and Microsoft Certified Trainers. Quite understandable, as these images, contain a lot of software. However, the students question is valid too, for practice and exam preparation. And you can get about the same experience you had in class, based on Microsoft's "Run IT on a Virtual Hard Disk" program. Run IT on a Virtual Hard Disk allows you to download and use a fully installed evaluation version of an installed product. So here is how you can build your own VHD for the 2779 or 2780 courses.

  1. Your PC; I recommend you use a PC with at least 1.5 GB of RAM and Windows XP.
  2. Virtual PC; download and install Virtual PC 2007 (if you want, you can use Virtual Server 2005 R2 instead). For the download and more information see the Microsoft Virtual PC site.
  3. SQL Server VHD; download the 4 files image files for the SQL Server 2005 Evaluation VHD and unpack the VHD. SQL Server 2005 is currently not listed on the Run IT on a Virtual Hard Disk site.
  4. SQL Server installation media; download the Evaluation Edition of SQL Server 2005 (180-day version), requires Windows Live ID. Some labs/practices/demonstrations require multiple instances, these are installed on the 2779 and 2780 images, but not on the Evaluation VHD. So you may need to install the SQLINSTANCE2 and SQLINSTANCE3.
  5. SQL Service Pack; the VHD for SQL Server Evaluation has no Service Pack for SQL Server applied, whereas the MOC courses 2779 and 2780 are based on SQL Server 2005 SP1. Links to the SQL Server 2005 Service Packs:
    1. SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 1
    2. SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2
    3. SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3
  6. Create a Virtual machine in Virtual PC based on the downloaded VHD. Set the amount of memory to at least 1024 MB, also enable undo disks.
  7. Start and log in to the Virtual PC guest, you will need the administrator password Evaluation1. You will notice that the Windows Server 2003 operating system is not activated, therefor you only have a limited period for evaluation.
  8. From the student CD that came with your courseware, run Allfiles.exe. This will extract all files required by the practices, labs and demonstrations. Note that the setup will be different from what you were used to during the course. The files in the course were on a separate VHD for each module, which was mounted as D:\. After unpacking Allfiles.exe the whole course is in one folder tree (typically C:\Program Files\Microsoft Learning\27xx\). Note that you may have to compensate for paths and server names; so when you are in 2780 module 4, a path D:\democode\SalesCert.cer should be changes to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Learning\2780\Mod04\SalesCert.cer. Likewise the name of the server is different too, so MIAMI should be changed to WIN2K3R2EE.

Tips about downloading and file interaction between the Virtual PC host, the Guest and the Internet.

  1. When you have a ISO-file on your host, you can mount this ISO as CD/DVD in the guest. You can also instruct Virtual PC guest to use the CD/DVD drive from the host.
  2. When you have normal files on your host, you can use the Virtual PC Shared Folders feature; this exposes a folder on the host as a network drive on the guest.
  3. You can use the Networking feature of Virtual PC to use Shared networking (NAT) or your hosts Network adapter to allow access to the network and to Internet, so you can download files directly into your Virtual PC guest.

Main differences between the MOC and Eval VHD's

  MOC Eval
Server name MIAMI Win2k3R2EE
SQL Server Edition Developer SP1 Enterprise no SP
Instances [default]
SQL Service Account MIAMI\SQLServer [LocalSystem]
Password Pa$$w0rd Evaluation1
Course files One VHD per module All files in a folder tree, paths have to be checked/changes.
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