Home Server as a Guest on Hyper-V

Like many IT Pros at home, my resources are limited.   But I have kids and they have needs too.

So the challenge here.  I have a great Pentium 4 with 2 gb of ram.  I have a WONDERFUL DuoCore with 8gb of ram.  I want home Server (for the usuals and of course to play) The Pentium 4 box is great to play with and perfect for Home Server.   I NEED to be working with Server 2008 R2 (since I need to be constantly working with new Technology)

My eldest daughter wants / needs (or thinks she does) to be playing the Sim’s as often as she can’.

My teenage son would love to pop in on something fast and current.

The Youngest wouldn’t mind accessing the computer either.

So my quest.  Having a system I can do MY work on but allow the family to share resources (possibly off lesser systems) and STILL get the benefits of Windows Home Server (automated backup from the physical machines) and try passing a USB physical drive to a Hyper-V box.

So created a Virtual machine on a VHD and installed the O/S.  This is NOT a recommended approach on any level.   The file system used for Windows Home System has not been tested under a VHD.  It is recommended by many if you are to do this to use the “Passthru” option in Hyper-v to grant direct access to a drive that way.

But I’m a) curious, b) a complete nerd and c) just LOVE a challenge.

So I granted 2 gigs of ram to my virtual machine in Hyper-V and installed away.

Well there were no shockers on the install other that having to install the Integration services into the Virtual Windows Home Server.  It rebooted naturally no shocker there too.

So I had a virtual home server.  Now I glanced over.  I have a 320 gb USB drive sitting on the desk.  I was wondering if this USB device would passthru into Hyper-V.  Hyper-V not wanting to normally talk to USB devices.

I went to add in the second drive.   Only one complaint.

“Devices must be offline to add in to pass thru”

Ok

This seemed too easy.

Diskmgmt.msc (Disk Management)

USB Drive in question, right click.  Selected “Offline”

Went back to Hyper-V and add IDE device.  The 320 gb USB WAS accessible by Hyper-v.  Added it in.  Looked at my Home Server. 

Under Storage was the USB external hard drive attached to the Hyper-V host computer.   It happily added it.

Now my quest over the next week (and a follow up post) is to see just how the Windows Home Server runs on a pure Dynamic VHD.

Why Dynamic?

Dynamic takes only what it needs for space.  I can resize it later.  If my needs grow, I can now buy a 1 terabyte drive (cheap) and drop the Entire Windows Home Server hosting environment on that and resize as I need (something I can’t do with a physical drive).  And although I can very easily add storage to Windows Home Server, my limitation on share storage is based upon the original drive the box runs off of.  So if I start from a 160gb drive, I am finding the total share storage won’t break that barrier.  I can utilize additional storage for backup.   I can utilize it for data mirroring.  But I cannot seem to extend the storage for my data.

In theory (key word folks, THEORY, this is bleeding cutting edge not recommended by Microsoft for a setup) I could resize my source drive and not affect the system other than it see more space)f

Check back in a few weeks for the results as I dump data on it and start using Windows Home Server for what it is.   And then on the same core server running Server 2008 R2, I intend to use Server 2008 R2 (virtualized) as a Terminal Server and see what I can do with it (even in a recreational mode for games)

Cheers all

Sean
The Energized Tech

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