Working with Virtual Hard Disks

Just like a real hard disk, the virtual hard disk must be partitioned and formatted with a file system before an operating system can be installed on it. In order to do this, you must access the virtual hard disk through a virtual machine. This section illustrates how this task is similar to working with a real hard disk.



Partition and Format the Virtual Hard Disk

In this operation, we will boot from an image of a floppy disk. This particular image is a Win98 boot floppy downloaded from www.bootdisk.com. In preparation, I have placed this image, win98sec.img, on the host machine's desktop.

Step 1:

Start the Virtual PC Console.

Double-click the selected virtual machine (or highlight it and click the Start button).

The virtual machine will start up in a window. Since the "hard disk" doesn't have an OS yet, nothing will boot.

Note the group of five icons in the lower-left corner of the window. The icons in this status bar represent the virtual hard disk, the virtual CD, the virtual floppy drive, host-shared folders, and the virtual network adapter.

"Inserting" the virtual floppy disk in the virtual floppy disk drive is as simple as using the mouse to drag the win98sec.img image file from the desktop and drop it onto the floppy drive icon in the lower-left status bar.
Step 2:

Now that we've inserted the floppy disk, we need to reboot the vm. Do not use Ctrl-Alt-Del, as the host machine will respond to that. Instead click on the red 'X' in the upper right corner of the window, or choose Action from the menu bar and select Close.
Step 3:

The option box asks whether we want to shut down the virtual machine or save the current state of the machine (similar to hibernation). We're rebooting, so select the Turn off option.

Click the OK button. The vm will shut down and the window will close.
Step 4:

Back at the Virtual PC Console, start the vm again. This time it will start up and "boot" from the floppy disk.

When the floppy disk finishes booting, we will be left at the A:\> prompt.

Enter the fdisk command to start the fdisk program.
Step 5:

We'll continue to use fdisk just as we would with a real hard disk.
Step 6:

Use the fdisk menu options to create a DOS partition and make it active, using the entire hard disk space (2 GB). We need to reboot the vm again so the disk will be recognized as "drive C:". Repeat steps 2-3 to shut down the vm.
Step 7:

Back at the Virtual PC Console, start the vm again. It will again boot from the virtual floppy disk.

When the floppy disk finishes booting, we will be left at the A:\> prompt.

Enter the format c: command to format the virtual hard disk.


This procedure partitions and formats the virtual hard disk.

Instead of using a floppy disk image, we could have used a real floppy disk, a real DOS bootable CD, or a virtual CD (an iso image of a DOS bootable CD). To use a real floppy disk, in Step 1 we would have right-clicked on the floppy disk icon in the lower-left status bar, then chosen to link the virtual floppy drive to the host machine's real floppy drive.

In the next procedure, we will install Windows 98. The installation will be from an image of a Win98 CD. In preparation, I have placed this image, win98se.iso, on the host machine's desktop. Now we need to insert the CD into the virtual CD drive. Drag the win98se.iso file from the desktop and drop it onto the CD icon in the lower-left status bar.

Since the Win98 CD isn't bootable, we'll leave the floppy disk in the virtual floppy drive. The default "bios" boot order in the virtual machine is configured to boot from floppy first, CD second, and hard disk last.

Shut down and reboot the vm again.


author: Dan Goodell

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