VirtualPC Frenzy !

I now have four VirtualPC instances running on my PowerBook. Three are actually useful and one will probably go as soon as I run short of space.

  • WinXP Pro – this one is the main day-to-day environment especially now I’ve worked out how to run multiple IIS instances on it. IE6 and all the smart stuff
  • Win2K – a bit of a personal favourite as it’s the quickest and does everything. But it’s my IE5 testbed machine so harder to upgrade
  • Win98 – yup, it’s important to remember there are folks out there still using this. It also provides a good platform for running IE5.5 as well
  • SuSe Linux – well, sometime you just have to try don’t you !

but… the best bit of all is finally getting VirtualPC to access the Internet via the Airport Extreme adapter and (more importantly) serve web pages that I can access from Safari when I’m connected via Ethernet, Airport or not at all.

Okay, so it’s not the simplest and every there are some times when you have to go through and set things up again, but it’s working fairly well.

So… what’s the magic ?

  • Set VirtualPC to use Virtual Switch, and in the application preferences set Virtual Switch to use the default connection.
  • On an Ethernet connected machine it’s no drama. OSX is happy to share the connection and everything works as expected
  • When connected via Airport it’s a little more complicated…
    • First of all, you have to make or buy a cat5 Loopback adapter.
    • Make sure you add both the Ethernet and Airport adapters to the Network settings in Network Preferences
    • In Sharing share the Airport connection with the build-in Ethernet
    • If you want to make outgoing web connections from the VirtualPC you’ll need to enable port 80 (and possibly others) in the OSX Firewall otherwise the Guest OS won’t be able to see past the firewall to the outside world
    • At a command prompt in Windows you may need to do an ipconfig /renew to pick up the new system assigned IP address
    • In Sharing you may also need to stop and restart the Windows File Sharing (for some reason the Guest OS doesn’t get access to the shared files until you do)

  • When there is no connection it works pretty much as on an Airport connection

It’s not the quickest, and it’s not the easiest – and I hope that time will make this whole saga a little easier to cope with, but …. it works !
Sometimes after the machine has been to sleep (or been restarted) you’ll have to go through this process again.

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