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Creating Virtual Machines with VMware vCenter Converter

To get the vCenter Converter browse to this page and and click the link for the Converter software. The download page appears with a panel for you to 'Register for your FREE Download' or 'Simply Login' for those who have already registered. Having done this the 'Product Download' page comes up to install the Akamai Download Manager (DLM) or to start a 'Manual download'. It's a 123 MB download so you may find the DLM the better option. Choose the Windows or Linux download depending on the system your host machine is running. Windows will be assumed from here on.

When the download has finished install the Converter software as normal and double click the desktop icon to run it. The 'Welcome' screen informs you that the software can create virtual machines from physical machines and a range of backups and other virtual machines such as Microsoft VirtualPC. To convert a running physical machine click 'Convert Machine'.

The 'Conversion' window appears and you need to select:
- Source type: Powered-on machine
Specify the powered-on machine and access details for example -
- IP address or name: 192.168.x.xx or MYWIN7
- User name: Fred
- Password: xxxx
- OS family: Windows (or Linux)

Click 'Next' and you will get an error message: 'Unable to contact the specified host'', 'Incorrect credentials' or 'Insufficient permissions'. Until the Converter software can install an agent on the target machine nothing can happen. This is the difficult step but don't give up - just work through the following points and you should get there.
Permission problems

Keep clear in your mind what needs to happen. To install the agent the host machine must:

1. Be able to contact the target - you need to:

  • Shut down any firewalls on the host and target.
  • If you are running a Win7 / Vista 'Homegroup' go to the 'Network and Sharing Center' and change to a 'Work' type Network. You can waste a lot of time if you don't do this ..
  • Make sure the host and target machines are on the same local net and are set to the same 'Workgroup'.

2. The Converter software must log in with administrative rights.

  • For XP it should be enough to specify any password protected user account with 'Computer Administrator' rights.
  • Win7 is more security concious and will only allow the Converter program to install its agent if it logs in as the hidden 'Administrator' account. This is another stumbling block that can waste a lot of time. See this Tech Tip on how to activate this hidden account and set its password.

3. The software will write files to the C: drive - so the C: drive must be 'shared'.

  • Go to the target machine and right click on the drive.
  • On XP select 'Sharing and Security' and click 'Share this folder'.
  • On Win7 select 'Share with ..' > 'Advanced sharing' and then click 'Advanced Sharing'.
  • In both cases click 'Permissions' and allow full access to 'Everyone'.

When you can access the target's shared C: drive from Windows Explorer using the Administrator account on Win 7 or any user account with administrative rights on XP, it's time to restart the Converter Standalone software and try to install the agent once again.

When the software has installed the agent it needs to know where you want to store the virtual machine that will be created. The natural response is to give the file path to the folder where you want it stored. Another stumbling block - the software wants a 'UNC' and will reject a file path.

Where to store the virtual machine

A 'UNC' is the nework address of a 'shared' folder and this easy to provide. Open up Windows Explorer and go to the folder where you want the virtual machine to be stored. This can be anywhere in the folder hierarchy. Right click on it and share the folder with some simple name such as 'VImage'. If the name of the host machine is 'MYWIN7' then the UNC of the shared folder is: \\MYWIN7\VImage. Enter the UNC and log in details when Converter asks for them. Note the log in user/password is needed for the agent to access the VImage share on the host, so this will be your normal log in details for the host machine.

Click 'Next' and a summary of what will be included in the virtual machine is displayed - including all the drives and partitions on the target machine. You can edit the options for example by clicking on the list of drives and unticking those not required. When ready click 'Next' and then 'Finish'. The Converter agent will start to build the virtual machine which will take some time As an indication it took under two hours to create an image of my 40GB XP laptop.

When complete the virtual image is ready to run. Start the VMware Player, click the 'Open Existing VM or Team' icon and browse to the folder you specified ('VImage' in the example) to select the virtual machine.

XAMPP LogoWeb sites have moved on from a collection of pages to complex systems that store pieces of web text in a database, organise graphics in separate folders, and serve up pages on demand with scripts and programming tags. These content management systems (CMS) have matured into off-the-shelf packages and there are a number of free, community supported packages that you can download and try for yourself.

The problem is finding a web server to try them out on. Typically they need a fully configured Apache server, MySQL database and the PHP programming system. Rather surprisingly you don’t need to rent an internet server. This article will help you set up a free, local web server on your PC or laptop using a package called XAMPP that you can use to try out Joomla and similar CMS web sites.

You don’t need any technical knowledge to set it up so let’s get started. Go to - and click on the version for your machine. XAMPP is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris. It provides a full web server installation in a single directory that will serve pages for you to browse with your usual web browser. It is the ideal way to develop and test a web site at home. It is designed for ease of use with minimal hassle – so there are no passwords. Do NOT use it as a live system on the net!

Bluefish - a free editor for programmers and webdesigners

High end web design packages cost money and usually want to manage your whole site. If you are familiar with HTML and are looking for an editor to create or edit a web page, then a good choice is the free opensource 'Bluefish' editor. This is can be downloaded from: and is available for Windows, Mac OS-X, Linux and Solaris.

The Bluefish editor

Font ExploerI recently wanted to update the masthead of the ICUFR website, but couldn't remember what font I had used for the lettering. No problem I thought - someone on the web will have a site that identifies fonts. Sure enough there was and the Linotype Font Finder (which looked very much like Identifont). These lead you through a series of questions that whittle the possibilities down to in my case about 30 possibilities. Unfortunately none of them were the font I was looking for.

Over the years I have let fonts accumulate and I now have 696 different fonts. So looking through them one by one was going to be a tedious business and I needed help. Windows 7 has a nice display of fonts installed on your machine, but it isn't suitable for managing hundreds of fonts. So Googling for font utilities led me to Font Explorer which I downloaded from Cnet.

This little utility is quick to download and install (on Windows 7) and ran without any problems. It displays your fonts page by page, but is smart enough to let you specify filters such as symbol, script, Roman or Swiss. The last two select serif or sans serif fonts. This cut down the number of fonts to examine and running my eye down a page of samples fairly quickly found the font I had used: "Impact".

GNU On Windows

An operating system (OS) like Windows and Linux starts out as a program that runs other programs. It manages access to memory, hard disks and USB ports but it doesn't do anything for the user, that is the role of application programs. However all OS's need a set of basic utility programs that browse folders and copy or delete files.

When Linus Torvalds started developing the OS that we know as Linux. he was working on a program to run other programs - the kernel. On its own it would never have become the major force it now is without GNU. This was a separate initiative headed by Richard Stallman that also planned to develop a new operating system. The GNU project was creating the utilities it would need when along came the Linux kernel.

GNU ApplicationsEver since the GNU tools have been part of any Linux system, and have developed into a sophisticated set of power tools. They are command line tools and the output of one can be piped into another or saved as a file. The GNU programs would be just as useful on Windows but until recently this meant running a Linux emulator which could then run the GNU tools.

Now around 130 GNU utilities have been compiled as native Windows programs and are available as the 'GNU On Windows' package (GOW). GNU has always been open source software and the package is free to download from: . Double click the downloaded program (as at May 2012: Gow-0.5.0.exe), accept the default options and click 'Close' when the installation has finished


Memory Lane