Microsoft Virtual Server installation

Walk through a Microsoft Virtual Server installation in this excerpt from the book Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise.

IT reseller takeaway: If you're planning a Microsoft Virtual Server installation in a customer's environment, make sure you've read up on the requirements and steps for successfully completing the installation in this excerpt from the book Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise.

Because it's supported only on Windows 2003, our example installation of Microsoft Virtual Server will be on Windows 2003. If you have large memory requirements, make sure you use the version of Windows 2003 that meets your needs. Don't fall into the category of people who think they can save a few dollars by using Windows 2003 Standard when you require 6 GB of RAM, because Standard supports only 4 GB of RAM. If you're going to install Virtual Server on an existing Windows system, take a moment to mentally compare the host's hardware configuration with the following suggested best-practice minimums to ensure a successful Virtual Server deployment:

  • Two RAID controllers (RAID 1 for the Windows 2003 host and RAID 5 for the Windows 2003 guests)
  • Three 1GB NICs
  • Two 3 GHz processors
  • 4 GB of ECC DDR RAM
  • Five 15,000RPM 146GB SCSI hard disks
  • 500–800 MHz FSB

We also need to point out that Microsoft suggests disabling hyperthreading on Virtual Server hosts. Microsoft's rationale is that a load-stressed server may perform poorly during workload spikes. You may want to make this call on your own. Try running your server with and without hyperthreading, conduct some tests, and implement what's good for your environment. Many servers do just fine with hyperthreading enabled. If you've installed Virtual PC, then you'll be getting ready to experience a bit of déjà vu with the install of Virtual Server.

If you're installing from a CD-ROM and autorun begins the installation process, take a moment to disable it now. You can disable it by editing the registry and changing the value of AutoRun to 0 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesCdrom. If autorun is already disabled, you'll need to look for the setup.exe file, which is about 20MB in size.

Follow these steps to install Virtual Server:

1. On the setup screen, select Install Microsoft Virtual Server to begin the installation process.

2. The Customer Information screen requires that you enter a valid product key to continue. Enter your information and key, and then click Next.

3. The Setup Type screen prompts you to select between Complete and Custom. The Custom setup feature allows you to remove the following options: Virtual Server Service, Documentation and Developer Resources, Virtual Machine Remote Control Client, and Virtual Server Web Application. Leave the default selection of Complete, and click Next.

4. The setup program will then configure Virtual Server's Administration Web site. The default configuration port is 1024 using TCP. You can change the port number to meet your needs, but don't use the common ports less than 1024 (for instance, 25, 80, 110, 443, and so on). Using a port already slated for an existing service will cause problems for the existing service and for the Virtual Server Administration Web site. The Web site is automatically added to your IIS configuration. You'll also have to decide if the Administration Web site should run as the local system account or as the authenticated user. The default is to run as the authenticated user and is generally sufficient for most installs.

5. The Ready to Install screen is the end of installation configuration. Select Install to begin the installation.

6. If you don't have IIS installed and running, the install program will warn you to change your install choice to reflect the status of IIS. You can continue the installation, but the Administration Web site won't install. You'll need to rerun the installation program after installing and configuring IIS to get the Administration Web site to function.

7. If you elect to install IIS now, cancel the install of Virtual Server first. If you don't, the installer won't recognize the installation of IIS. You can install IIS by going to Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel. Select Add/Remove Windows Components. Next, highlight Application Server, and select Details. But don't select the box to the left, as this will install all subcomponents. Highlight Internet Information Services (IIS), and select Details; again, don't select the box to the left, as this will install all subcomponents. Highlight World Wide Web Service, and select Details. Once more, don't select the box to the left, as this will install all subcomponents. Finally, check the World Wide Web Service box, and then click OK. You'll need to select OK a few more times to get back to the Windows Components Wizard's main screen.

8. Assuming all goes well, the install finishes with the Setup Complete screen. Select Finish to complete the installation.

9. The summary window will open and detail several points, such as the location of the installation, the address of the Administration Web site, and the location of documentation.

10. To test your installation of Microsoft Virtual Server, from the summary window, select the hyperlink to the Administration Web site. You'll be prompted to log in. By default, only local administrators can log in. Therefore, be sure to supply a username and password from the Local Administrators group. If you don't have SSL enabled for your IIS server, you'll see a warning at the bottom of the login page stating that SSL isn't enabled for the administration Web site. It's important you use secure communications with remote administration because you'll be passing passwords and configuration information to the system. You don't want to be the victim of someone unscrupulously using a network analyzer. Take a moment to configure SSL for your server.

To get a certificate for the Administration Web site, you'll have to set up Certificate Services from the Add/Remove Windows Components in the Control Panel, use a preexisting certificate or certificate authority, or generate one using the makecert.exe self-signing certificate utility, using SelfSSL, or using OpenSSL. Microsoft recommends you use a certificate server rather than using makecert.exe.makecert.exe is simple to use and saves time in a lab or testing environment; you can download it by browsing to. Because makecert.exe more closely approximates the installation of a certificate obtained from a public certificate authority, we'll use it for securing our Administration Web site for this example.

Note: The IIS 6.0 Resource Kit Tools also includes the easy-to-use self-signing certificate utility called SelfSSL. You can download the IIS 6.0 Resource Kit Tools at SelfSSL is a bit easier to use because it automatically installs the certificate in IIS. To create a certificate, select SelfSSL from the IIS Resources program menu. A command window will open showing all the options of the SelfSSL command and will reveal the default behavior. After obtaining makecert.exe, place it in an easy-to-find location from the command line, such as the root of your hard drive (C). Follow these steps:

    1. Navigate to the location of the executable, and create a self-signed certificate with the following command:
    makecert –r –pe –n "CN= " –b 01/01/2005 –e 01/01/2006 –eku –ss my –sr localMachine –sky exchange –sp "Microsoft RSA SChannel Cryptographic Provider" –sy 12

    If you don't know the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of your server, run ipconfig/all from the command line. Concatenate the host name line and the primary DNS suffix line. Moreover, if you need to set the primary DNS suffix without joining your host to a domain, open System in the Control Panel. Click the Computer Name tab, select Change, and then click the More button. Enter the second-level and toplevel domain names. You'll have to reboot your server for the change to take effect.

    2. View the certificate using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). You'll have to add the Certificates (Local Computer) snap-in. The certificate should be stored in the Computer Account certificate under Personal. 3. After verifying the creation of the certificate, you'll need to install it by going to Web Site Properties at the Administration Web site in IIS.

    4. Select the Directory Security tab followed by Server Certificate.

    5. The Web Server Certificate Wizard will start. Select Next to begin the configuration.

    6. From the Server Certificate options screen, select Assign an Existing Certificate.

    7. On the Available Certificates screen, select the certificate generated by makecert.exe.

    8. You'll be prompted to supply the port for SSL communications. The default is 443.

    9. The Web Server Certificate Wizard will generate a summary screen. Check the data, and make sure it's correct.

    10. The Completing Installation screen indicates the certificate assignment was successful. Select Finish to end the install.

    11. On the Virtual Server Properties window, select Edit under Secure Communications. On the Secure Communications screen, check Require Secure Channel (SSL) and Requires 128-Bit Encryption.

    12. Close the Virtual Server Properties window, and then restart IIS to make the changes take effect (by selecting Action ➤All Tasks ➤Restart IIS). Test the Administration Web site to verify secure communications. When you're testing your site, make sure to change the port number in the uniform resource locator (URL). The default install port uses 1024 and can no longer be used because of the security settings you made.

    Note: You may find that the Mozilla and Netscape Web browsers complain about certificates that are selfsigned, such as in the makecert.exe and selfssl.exe applications.

Like Virtual PC, Virtual Server installs seamlessly. Now, browse to Microsoft's Web site at, and check for any patches or updates. If system patches exist, install them before continuing. With post-installation maintenance completed, you're now ready to start installing guest VMs, but before you begin, you should familiarize yourself with the Management User Interface and skim the information available in the help files. Knowing what options are available in Virtual Server and the scope of built-in assistance will be invaluable during deployment.


About the author   
Chris Wolf is an instructor at ECPI Technical College, as well as a leading industry consultant in enterprise storage, virtualization solutions, and network infrastructure management. He has a master's degree in information technology from Rochester Institute of Technology, and his IT certification list includes MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. Wolf authored MCSE Supporting and Maintaining NT Server 4.0 Exam Cram, Windows 2000 Enterprise Storage Solutions and Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies, and he contributes frequently to Redmond Magazine and Windows IT Pro Magazine. Wolf also speaks at computer conferences across the nation.

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