I thought I'd start a new thread rather than hijack the Windows 7 one.
Originally posted by tarnish This is off-topic in the sense that I don't have any intention of playing around with Windows 7 Beta, but if you're considering running it in a virtual environment (which is an excellent way to put it through its paces without any risk at all to your existing OS install), consider Sun's VirtualBox (download here). It's free, it's fast, and I find it a whole lot more user-friendly than VMWare Server. You'll even save yourself a blank DVD, as it will let you mount the ISO image for the installation.
I took your suggestion because I had been wanting to play around with Ubuntu, and running it off the live CD was so slow, but I didn't want to mess with dual boot.
So far so good, I've got a little bit of a learning curve to open up more memory for my VM and adding options to allow better use of the video.
So now I AM considering making another VM to test out Windows 7. And I'm hoping that someone here can help me.
I noticed that Windows 7 wants 1GB of memory, but when I try to add a VM with that much, Virtualbox gives me a warning about using more than 1/2 of my memory for a VM.
Windows can only see about 2.5GB of my 4GB installed memory. (I have the 32bit version, and I guess my video card is also "hiding" some of it? I have a 512MB Nvidia.)
So...any thoughts on how I'd want to set up a VM for Windows 7 testing?
If this works well, I'm considering installing Ubuntu on the kids PC (an older PIII 1Ghz) and running VirtualBox to have WindowsMe as a guest so they can still play their older games.)
In any case, thanks for the suggestion Tarnish. For a free application, it's really providing some cool "playgrounds" to learn in with out trashing my XP install.
With regards to your questions about RAM, Windows XP 32-bit has a 4GB address space. This means that it knows how to "talk to" 4GB of RAM. But it also needs to talk to other devices, particularly those that have RAM of their own. And since Windows XP (and 2000 and NT before it) was written long before 4GB was a realistic amount of RAM for anyone to actually have, and peripherals didn't have huge amounts of onboard RAM (e.g., video cards didn't have 512MB), Windows was written to "map" peripheral RAM to the top of address space. This makes the top of address space unusable for addressing actual physical RAM.
This has led to, among other things, newer systems with 4GB of RAM being sold with 64-bit operating systems. Although I believe they play the same trick with memory addressing, on a 64-bit system, the theoretical address space is something like 16TB, which is at least a couple of years away as a realistic amount of RAM for a system to have
This is my (possibly broken) understanding of things, anyway. Do a Google search for "32-bit windows-xp 3gb limit" to read more about it. It doesn't explain why Windows is only seeing 2.5GB of RAM in your system, unless maybe it's a laptop and the 512MB is shared physical RAM (insult to injury, it would use 512MB of RAM and also map away 512MB more in swiping the address space used to write to it). If it is a laptop using shared RAM you can probably reduce how much RAM is being used by changing it in the BIOS.
For my part, I'm running 32-bit XP on a laptop with 4GB. I've got 256MB of discrete video RAM, though, so Windows sees 3 full GB (it reports 3.5GB, actually). I've been running OpenSUSE 11.0 on VirtualBox 2.0.4 (you've probably got vbox 2.1.x if you downloaded it recently) and haven't had any problems setting my VM for 1536MB of RAM, but that's certainly not more than half of what the system sees as available. My suggestion would be that it can't hurt to try. Also, how much RAM are you giving to video in the VM? That's probably also being taken out of physical RAM. You don't get 3d hardware acceleration in a VM, and anecdotal evidence from the web says the requirement is 128MB, so I wouldn't set it any higher than that.
Anyways, hope this helps. It sounds like you've got plenty of machine there and it's just a matter of figuring out the right settings. It's nice to hear that someone who (it sounds like) has never played with virtualization before has been able to dive right in. And that's a great idea for your kids' machine.
Well...I did a little more digging, and there are a LOT of people with my problem. It seems that the Dell Dimension 8400, 32 bit windows, and the reviled Dell BIOS all combine to make the problem worse.
Something about the Dell BIOS and the way it addresses the upper memory registers. In any case, there's nothing I can do about it short of getting a differing motherboard and BIOS.
The memory is there, and I think WinXP can get by with 1GB of memory while I play around with Windows 7, so I'll give it a shot.
I just have to clean up my hard drive a bit...I noticed that I have just over what Windows 7 wants.
I might get around to installing that 2nd hard drive soon too.
And yes I'm new to Virtualization. We use it a lot at work, but I don't personally have my hands on it, so it's nice to have some idea of what they're doing.