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More Comments on Virtual PC 5.02 Update with OS X
Last Updated: 3/9/2002, 10 AM Eastern

(Updated for a reader's tip on recovering saved states after the update.)
I've received more reader comments on the Virtual PC 5.02 update. Updated comments include more on the "zombie" processes in OS X, Connecting to Wireless networks in Windows and a tip on recovering saved states that are reported as corrupted after the 5.02 update. (If you don't shut down the saved states before updating to VPC 5.02, they are reported as corrupted after the update. This warning should have been the #1 item in bold on the readme and in the installer info window I think.)

Reader Feedback on VPC 5.02: (Most recent reports first - there are probably more in my inbox but with hundreds of mails a day I've not been able to read all emails; one man site with too much work to be able to do that.)

    "Hi Mike,
    We, too, overlooked (read: misread) the note to actually open and 'Shut Down', instead of executing a 'Save State' for each disk image prior to updating. Oops.

    Given that we have literally dozens of configurations (for Web and application deployment testing; e.g., every flavor and subset version of Windows 95 edition 1 through current XP) per station, per user, all in Saved States, this would have been terribly impractical, even if we knew about it in advance.

    (Note to Connectix: this is a nasty thing to force on your power-user customers; find another updater method that doesn't "break" existing images like this.)

    Since all of our images are fully backed up, as well as the original app, we didn't panic when the newly updated VPC 5.0.2 claimed our images with Saved States were damaged, and suggested we discard them. We knew we needed something more practical than opening each, and going through standard 'Shut Down' before an update on every user box.

    What we discovered is that by opening any unsaved image (including a newly generated one, even one booted from the basic PC Boot Floppy image included in the extras folder), that then going into Settings and designating other 'C:' drive images as second and third drives, etc., and dismissing the warning about writing data to them, effectively "un-corrupts" (read: unlocks) the previously Save State.

    The only downside is that sometimes (not always) the now "repaired" images claim they've not been shutdown properly, and require a ScanDisk session on next startup. The good news is that I was able to set up a low-level tech who could "pre-repair" all the images for all the users across the network. It takes mere moments per disk image using this method. Tedious for dozens compiling into hundreds, but faster than the alternative, and better than starting from scratch.

    Hopefully this tip will reach a few panicked and frustrated individuals who would otherwise trust the errant error message and discard the images, and reinstall everything from OS to applications and user docs from scratch.
    [what did you use the open the saved state/images after the update?]
    We used any other image that would open (startup as a Windows or DOS OS), either one that we repaired, or one that we newly created. By adding other drive images to that PC state, ones that would normally be C: drives with bootable OSes on them, they then become "uncorrupted" when added as D: and E: drives, and can then be booted again as C: drive startup disks by VPC 5.0.2.

    [how can those without any backups of their drive images select other drive images?]
    Sorry, this I should have outlined more clearly.

    1) Use the main VPC 'Virtual PC List' window to generate a 'New...' VPC config.

    2) Follow the 'PC Setup Assistant' wizard, create a new (preferably expandable) drive -- which you will discard later -- with an easily recognized name like "Kill Me Later" and launch your newly created PC.

    3) You will probably get a DOS message about "No OS found on disk.... Install blah blah blah...." Ignore this.

    4) Use the 'Capture Floppy Image' command from the floppy icon at the bottom of the running VPC Window; navigate to your 'Virtual PC 5.0' application folder: Extras: Installing Other OSes: PC DOS Boot Disk; Select the image.

    5) Press 'Enter'; the PC will now boot from the floppy image as drive A: ; you'll get another DOS message about initializing the C: drive and adding drivers; say 'No' and continue.

    6) Now simply open the 'Drive Settings' for the current PC; add your original "corrupted" drive image to a 'Drive 2' or 'Drive 3' slot; Save by hitting 'Restart' as instructed; you may get a warning about writing to the disk and possible damages; ignore this.

    7) To be safe, after restarting the basic DOS again (repeating step 5 if needed), use the typical DOS commands to verify that you can "mount" the desired image (e.g., type 'd:' at the 'a:>' prompt; then 'dir/p' at the 'd:>' prompt; if you see your directory with windows on it somewhere, you're golden). If you can't "mount" the drive, or are afraid of DOS, don't worry about it.

    8) Shutdown (not 'Save State'!!!) your newly created DOS PC.

    9) Now try again to launch your original VPC config from the 'Virtual PC List' window, or, if previously discarded, generate yet another new PC, but select your original disk image as Drive 1 (typically named 'PC DOS 2000' or similar; may be found in the current user's 'Documents' folder or in the master VPC application folder), and it should launch normally. You may get a DOS message about not being shutdown properly; let it run ScanDisk and all should be well.

    As an alternate method, one can try to use the 'Virtual PC Setup Assistant' to generate a new PC, but rather than create a new drive, use the 'Duplicate from existing drive image' option. It should do the same thing, but I have no more corrupted images to test; our method was designed to repair numerous images (about 150), as many as possible at one time.
    Frederico "

    "Just a comment on VPC performance. People should be absolutely certain that the partition containing their VPC application and 'hard drive' is defragmented. Fragmentation will absolutely destroy VPC performance.
    Joe R. "

    "I was reading through your site and noticed the 5.0.2 update to Virtual PC. After downloading and installing the update, I decided to try and connect to the Windows Network at work through Win2000 in Virtual PC.

    I connect to a WAP using WEP on my iBook 600 12.1". Before, I could access the internet using Shared Networking in Win2000, but I could never connect to my intranet using Shared Networking or Virtual Switch Networking. After the update, I can connect using Virtual Switch networking and browse other windows machines.

    I was able to do this with a direct wired connection before, but now the wireless route is a go too.
    Just thought everyone else might like to know.
    Jason "

    " I read your note about VPC 5.0.2 leaving chmod zombies around and can verify this behavior under 10.1.3 on a QuickSilver G4/733:

    sbnoble  9220   7.3 20.4   220012 133924  ??  S      2:53.52 /Applications/Virt
    root     9224   0.0  0.1     1728    360  ??  S      0:00.01 VirtualPC_Services
    root     9435   0.0  0.1     1344    336 std  R+     0:00.01 ps aux
    root     9223   0.0  0.0        0      0 con- Z      0:00.00  (chmod)
    sbnoble  9436   0.0  0.0     1112    220 std  R+     0:00.00 fgrep   9
    root     9227   0.0  0.0        0      0 con- Z      0:00.00  (chmod)
    root     9228   0.0  0.0        0      0 con- Z      0:00.00  (chmod)
    root     9229   0.0  0.0        0      0 con- Z      0:00.00  (chmod)
    root     9230   0.0  0.0        0      0 con- Z      0:00.00  (chmod)

    This is not happening with the 5.0.1 installation under 10.1.3 on a PowerBook Pismo G3/400, although that version seems to leave VirtualPC_Services in a zombie state.

    It looks like VPC is spawning these chmods but then is not handling their exit states (done by either calling waitpid() upon a SIGCHLD or by using sigaction to set SIGCHLD to SA_NOCLDSTOP). Thus the zombies (which exist only to hold exit state information) wait around until VPC quits.

    Looking at the VPC binaries, it appears that it can spawn the BSD applications /usr/sbin/chown, /bin/chmod, and /bin/sync. I'm not sure why they feel the need to spawn separate processes for these actions as they all have equivalent system API's which would be more efficient (and secure).

    My guess is that they are using these chmod's to safely manage root versus user privelages for resource management. VirtualPC_Services runs as root, probably to enable network and resource management, while the main VPC app runs as the user: a VERY good idea for security. The chmods are probably adjusting the privilages of various files so that the relatively unprivilaged main app can access them.

    I suspect, based on this and Connectix's past statements about performance under MacOS X, that they programmers are kind of learning unix as they go. At least they don't run the main VPC app as root: given that bit of savvy, all else can be forgiven.
    Seth Noble
    - President - Data Expedition, Inc.
    http://DataExpedition.com/ "

    " I just wanted to add that I had problems with virtual switch even with OSX 10.1.2. As John noted, DHCP was not working for me so I had to place static IP addresses in all my virtual environments. This goes from Win98 to WinXP. But I think this is the way its supposed to work? Since with virtual switch on and running OSX, your Win OS now acts like its connected to a hub and does not share your Macs IP address as it does in shared networking. So unless you have a real DHCP server on your LAN, the PC will not get an IP address with virtual switch enabled.

    In OS 9 I do not think Virtual Switch does anything and acts like shared networking? At least that is the way I read their info on it. Here is an excerpt from their FAQ

      "Virtual Switch: In Mac OS 9, this option provides the possibility of a fixed IP address for the virtual machine. In Mac OS X, the Virtual Switch allows your virtual machine to become a fully functional network node that can communicate with other virtual machines running on the same Macintosh, the host Macintosh itself, or other computers on the network. Additionally under OS X, Virtual Switch addresses advanced networking needs such as remote login (rlogin) or running a Web or FTP server with predefined port numbers."

    And actually I can even use a static IP address if shared networking is used in OS 9. I don't know if its supposed to work that way as using Virtual Switch in OS 9 is supposed to be used for static IP address in OS 9 but its working for me :)

    So I suggest John either assign manual IP settings or if he is not trying to fileshare between virtual environments on one Mac, that he should just use Shared Networking.
    Thanks, Thomas Koons "

    " Virtual PC Update fixes Windows CE Ver. 3.11 ActiveSync with Compaq IPAQ
    Hello, Not tried this with anything but my ipaq yet, but here's my specs.

    Powerbook G3/400 - Pismo, 384MB RAM , 20GB HDD , MACOS X 10.1.3 , Virtual PC 5 with 5.02 updater (released yesterday), Windows 98SE under VPC

    IPAQ USB Charge -N- Sync cable
    Compaq IPAQ 3635 16ROM/32RAM

    Have never been able to sync my IPAQ before, having hear VPC 502 update fixed LOTS of stuff, I figured I'd give it a shot. I went to computer settings and under usb, as I plugged in the IPAQ, boom! my IPAQ showed up. Shortly after that it detected my ipaq in windows, and then installed Active Sync again, works perfectly. Installed a CE Cab and an application that had to install in windows to be installed on CE. I'm thrilled!

    Hope everyone else that has a ce device has as much luck with this as I did.
    Walt J "

    " Having seen the article on your site regarding the new VPC 5.0.2 update, I immediately rushed to the Connectix site, downloaded it, and installed it (including applying the new 8032 additions).

    It works fine in MacOS 9.2.2 on my PowerBook G3 500MHz in both Windows 98 and Windows 2000Pro. It even fixes the conflict that existed in 5.0 and 5.0.1 with Joliet Access.
    I then moved on to try it under MacOS 10.1.3 on the same computer.

    Unfortunately I seem to have found a huge bug in VPC 5.0.2 under MacOS 10.1.3. Even though I am using exactly the same VPC 5.0.2 application folder, preference folder and disk images under both MacOS 9.2.2 and 10.1.3 networking does not work under 10.1.3 (and does work under 9.2.2).

    I have Virtual Switch enabled for both Windows 98 and Windows 2000Pro and set to use the default interface. This works perfectly under 9.2.2 but under 10.1.3 the Windows systems (using DHCP) fails to obtain a TCP/IP address and therefore cannot do any networking. My recollection is that this did work under VPC 5.0.1. Note: MacOS 10.1.3 itself does not have any networking problems (i.e. Ping and web-browsing work fine).
    Does anyone else see the same problem?
    John L. "

Another reader said he was able to surf/download using IE after the update. I asked if John had read the info in the VPC 5.02 vital info and suggested contacting Connectix tech support and if he tried creating another PC config.

A reader with a "saved state" VPC session updated with 5.02 without shutting down the saved state first and after the update VPC 5.02 reports it's corrupted. He later wrote:

    " Yes, I tried the create a new pc option. It walks you through setting up another virtual pc state BUT it has no OS! So it seems I need to somehow install Win2000 into my new pc state. Haven't gone that route yet, still combing the net looking for advice to rescue my old state (I loath having to reinstall everything). Really there should be a disk-repair type of utility for fixing corrupt states, I would think.
    [his next mail said]

    OK I am an idiot!
    Here is what happened: I skimmed the read me file and thought that it said to shut down VPC before installing - well duh, who wouldn't shut down an app before installing a updater to it?! However, that is not what it said. Instead, and this is very important, SHUT DOWN YOUR VIRTUAL PC STATES! They cannot just be saved with VPC shut down, you must shut all states down and then VPC itself.

    To my credit Connectix could have made a bigger deal about this in the read me file. They could also have mentioned what would happen if you do not shut down states.

    So for those as foolish as I who had saved states and ran the updater here is the solution to getting your states back: uninstall VPC using the un-install option of the installer on the CDROM (don't worry it won't delete your states); reinstalled VPC 5, your saved states will work again; shut down all saved states and then VPC; run the updater. All should be fine.
    Mark "

I think there should be a bold warning as the top line in the installer readme/info panel and the readme file about shutting down saved states before running the updater.

Another reader commented on "zombie" processes:

    " Hi Mike,
    Have you noticed all the zombie process that VPC leaves while it's running. They are all chmod and chown. The longer it runs the more it spawns.
    [I asked if he had any network issues after the update]
    I don't do any networking from the windows side although Explorer worked fine and I was able to download stuff from the net. "

I could also surf the net, etc. from VPC 5 in OS X after the update. (OS X was using Airport network to share a cable modem.)

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