Strategic Informatics

A blog about the strategic application of technology

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Virtualization on the Mac with VMware Beta 2

I am a big proponent of virtualization in the enterprise and it has come in quite handy on my primary PC for virtualizing development environments for some of my .Net development as well as hosting several LAMP stacks running atop of Linux.  VMware is my application of choice on the desktop and on the server.  I’ve run VMWare for well over 6 years now on XP, Windows Servers, Linux, and now OS X and have had solid performance with consistent updates from what is now a property of EMC.

The first release of VMware fusion left a bit to be desired but I jumped on it none-the-less because of the portability of existing VMware appliances and machines.  Within a few months another point release was issued that made it an almost daily utility for me.  Now with the upcoming release of 2.0 VMware has added several features I think feature-for-feature will give other competitors, even the open source Zen, a run for it’s money.

Here is a snapshot of what is anticipated in the 2.0 release:

  • Multiple Snapshots
    • Save your virtual machine in any number of states, and return to those states at any time
    • Automatically take snapshots at regular intervals with AutoProtect
  • File and URL Sharing
    • Share applications between your Mac and your virtual machines
    • Finder can now open your Mac’s files directly in Windows applications like Microsoft Word and Windows Media Player
    • VMware Fusion can configure virtual machines to open their files in Mac applications like Preview and iTunes
    • Click on a URL in a virtual machine and open it in your favorite Mac browser, or configure your Mac to open its links in a virtual machine
    • Map key folders in Windows Vista and Windows XP (Desktop, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures) to their corresponding Mac folders (Desktop, Documents, Music, and Pictures)
    • Greatly improved reliability of shared folders—now compatible with Microsoft Office and Visual Studio
  • Experimental Support for Mac OS X Server Virtual Machines
    • You can create Mac OS X Server 10.5 virtual machines (experimental support). Due to Apple licensing restrictions, the standard edition of Mac OS X 10.5 is not supported in a virtual machine
  • Display Improvement
    • Improved 3D support
    • Use 1080p full high definition video in Windows XP or Windows Vista
    • Freely resize your virtual machine’s window and enter and exit Full Screen view while playing games
    • Run Linux applications directly on your Mac’s desktop under Unity view
  • UI Improvements
    • The New Virtual Machine Assistant has Linux Easy Install in addition to Windows Easy Install
    • Cut and paste files up to 4 MB, including graphics and styled text
    • Status icons glow when there is activity
    • A screen shot of the last suspended state of a virtual machine is displayed in Quick Look and Cover Flow
    • You can remap keyboard and mouse input
    • Keyboard compatibility between the Mac and the virtual machine is improved
    • The vmrun command line interface is available for scripting
  • Broader Hardware and Software Support
    • VMware Fusion supports Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron
    • VMware Fusion supports 64-bit Vista Boot Camp; handles activation for Microsoft Office 2003 and Office 2007
    • Experimental support for 4-way SMP (note: Windows Vista and Windows XP limit themselves to two CPUs)
  • Support for Virtual Hard Disks
    • You can mount the virtual disk of a powered-off Windows virtual machine using VMDKMounter (Mac OS X 10.5 or higher)
    • You now have the ability to re-size virtual disks

All of these features are worthy of an upgrade in and of itself but VMware is offering this as a free upgrade to current Fusion customers – even better.

Source: VMware

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Installing a 500 GB HD in a 17″ Macbook Pro

Here is how I replace my 160 GB hard drive with a Hitachi 500GB 2.5″ HD in my 17″ Macbook Pro. There are several sites and even video’s on the web that outline how to do this but to complement my post on how I moved both my HFS (OS X) and NTFS (Vista) partitions to a new hard drive I thought I would also post pictures of my install. My Macbook is less than a month away from being out of warrantee so I decided to go ahead and save the $80 or so that Apple charges to install a 320G drive and do it on my own with a 500G drive. This was actually a really easy project so don’t be put off by the steps as I’ve just detailed the steps and included pictures. Total time was about :30 minutes from start to finish.

Important: Installing this new hard drive was an intermediary step between my initial backup and restore of my data. Look a the “Restoring OS X and Boot Camp Partitions to a new hard drive” post for backing up your data to prepare this hard drive for installation and also for restoring. If you follow these steps when you install this HD you will have a bootable OS X partition just as you had before and will be ready for restoring your boot camp partition if you had one.  Also last but not least this process will void your Apple warranty so keep this in mind.  Apple will do a hard drive upgrade for you for $80, so if you are inclined to take this route there are other options for you to pursue.

Tools Required:

1 #00 Phillips Head Screwdriver

1 T6 size Torx Screwdriver (Star shaped head)

1 non-metalic driver to assist with lifting tape and connectors

1 multi-compartment case to hold several of the lilliputian screws used to piece this notebook together.

Note: A grounding pad would be a wise idea. I don’t have one in these pictures but what you don’t see is the grounding strap I used to be on the safe side since I didn’t want to risk doing any damage to the internal components.

Step One:
Remove the battery from the bottom of your MacBook Pro. I’m assuming you know how to do this. Just pull back on the two battery release tabs on the underside of your MacBook Pro.

Step Two:
Remove four Philip head screws that hold the cover for the memory in place.

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Step Three:

Turn the MacBook Pro 180 degrees around to access three Phillips head screws. These are at an angle so keep this in mind when you put them back in so as not to strip the screw holes.

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Step Four:

Remove the two Torx Screws just above the memory. You can see I removed my memory during this install just to play it safe.

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Step Five:

Remove four Phillips head screws across the bottom near the hinge that attaches the LCD screen.  Below are the two of the four screws on the left

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Below are the two remaining screws on the right
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Step Six:

Remove four screws on both sides of the notebook

Below is the left side of the notebook where the magnetic power adapter fits

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Below is a picture of the other side of the notebook where the DVI connector is located.
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There is also two screws on the back of the hinge that need to be removed as well.

Step Seven:

Turn your notebook over and open the lid. You can start to remove the top portion of the keyboard by starting at the hinge and gently lifting and moving your way down the sides toward the front of the notebook. I included pictures to show how this will look as you remove it.

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Another shot of the other side with the top cover coming off.
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Gently lift the bottom of the keyboard assembly up. If you lift the keyboard assembly strait up you will exceed the length of the ribbon cable inside so lift gently.  You must remove the ribbon cable connecting the keyboard assembly to the motherboard as indicated here.  If there is tape holding down the connector just use a non-metallic screwdriver to work the tape off the circuit board then gently pull up on the connector and it should come off. Don’t worry it will pop back in by applying a little pressure.

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Step Eight:

Remove the hard drive ribbon cable that connects to the motherboard

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If there is a ribbon cable over your current HD just lift up on the tape to free it from the drive you will be replacing. Also, to the right of the drive is a bracket holding the drive in place. You must remove this assembly by unscrewing the two Torx screws holding it down.

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The tape at the top portion of the drive wraps to the back of the drive and across the drive ribbon cable. You need to lift this tape up and out of the way in order for you to remove the ribbon cable that connects the motherboard to the hard drive. Gently lift up on the right side of the drive to remove it from its housing.

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Step Nine:

Once you remove the drive from the laptop you will need to remove the rubber grommets and screws that allows the hard drive to sit snugly and quietly in the notebook and move these to the new hard drive.

Below is a picture of the right side of the SATA drive the connector is on the right of the picture.

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Below is a picture of the left side of the drive.  The connector is on the left of the picture
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Step Ten:

The silver colored screws that you put on your new hard drive fit into the black rubber grommets in the hard drive bay of your notebook. Just slide the hard drive into these holes, reconnect the ribbon cable and lower the hard drive into it’s new home. Put the hard drive bracket back in place to secure the unit.

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Note: There is a size difference between the original 9mm 160GB (left) and the 12.5mm 500GB (right) drives but the new 500GB drive fit perfectly in the 17″ Macbook Pro case.  Some visitors have asked about 15.4″ cases but everything I have read online says there is not enough height in the 15.4″ MBP drive bay to accommodate the 12mm drives.

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Below is a picture of the newly installed drive.  As you can see there is enough room for the additional height of the 500GB 12mm drive.
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Just place the ribbon connectors back over your new hard drive and reconnect the hard drive ribbon cable back to the motherboard.

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The drive ribbon cable easily connects back onto the circuit board located immediately below the left cooling fan.
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Step Eleven:

Reconnect the Keyboard assembly back onto the Motherboard.  Remember that you can’t stand the keyboard assembly straight up so you will have to hold the keyboard at a slight angle while you connect the ribbon cable back to the bottom portion of the notebook.

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Lower the top assembly back down and put your screws back in reverse order to patch things up.

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Moving OS X and Boot Camp partitions to a new higher capacity hard drive

The original HD that came with my Macbook Pro was a 160G 7200RPM Segate and suited my needs well. I had two partitions split about 50/50 between OSX and Vista via Boot Camp (~74GB-Vista) and 75GB-OS X). The solution was great as I was able to access my Vista partition through VMWare Fusion when running OS X and was able to boot straight into Vista when I needed to. I’ve had my Macbook Pro for about a year and have purchased and configured a variety of software for both Vista and OS X and was quickly running out of space to the point I couldn’t boot my boot camp partition via VMWare Fusion because I didn’t have more than 2G of available hard drive space. This quickly became a problem and moving files to and from my HD became too much of a chore so I decided to upgrade my hard drive rather than repartition OS X and take additional space from the Windows partition. There were several examples of how to backup and restore OS X HFS formatted partitions but only some untested suggestions on how to accomplish moving a boot camp NTFS formatted partition, so I thought I would share with you what I did to successfully upgrade the HD in my Macbook Pro and migrate the partitions to the new drive.

I’ll be making a separate post of what I did to upgrade the Hardware but below are the steps I took to backup and restore my system to the new hard drive:

What you need:

  1. Carbon Copy or SuperDuper for Backing up and restoring OS X volumes. Both work great!
  2. Winclone for backing up and restoring your Windows NTFS partition.
  3. Boot Camp Assistant for partitioning your new hard drive.
  4. A new higher capacity SATA hard drive and enclosure that you can put it in. I bought the Thermaltake BlacX hard drive dock which allows me to slip in any 3.5″ or 2.5″ Serial ATA Hard Drive for approx. $34.  My drive of choice for my 17″ Macbook Pro was the 500GB Hatachi 5K500 which I got for about $230.

First Step:

Connect your new hard drive to your existing Mac. We will be erasing all data on this drive so be sure you don’t have anything you want to keep on this drive. I had already formatted it in Mac OS Extended (journaled) using Disk Utility but this may be an unnecessary step but for consistency sake this is what I did.

Open SuperDuper! and in the first drop down list next to Copy choose your source volume or your existing Macintosh HD. In the next drop down choose your backup hard drive.

SuperDuper!.jpg

Make sure that the “Backup – all files” option is selected next to using. This will erase your external drive and begin to backup your current OS X volume and make the external drive bootable.  Note that the entire drive or partition is used for this step.  So at this point I had a single 465GB OS X partition after everything was said and done.

After this is complete I would ensure that you can boot to your newly cloned OS X drive by rebooting and holding down the “option” key on your keyboard during the boot process. When you are presented with the available boot device options choose the external drive you just cloned.  Make sure the drive boots up successfully before moving forward otherwise you may have trouble getting your system working when you physically install this new drive into your Mac.

Second Step:

Open Winclone and choose your current boot camp partition from the drop down list. My boot camp drive  was titled “UNTITLED” (Note the image below shows new HD not my old 75GB partition…I upgraded my windows partition for more storage but we’ll get to that in a bit).

WincloneHD_Resize.jpg

Click on the “Image…” Button to start the backup process. You will be prompted for a location. I chose to store this file on the external drive formatted as HFS (Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from earlier.  What Winclone does is creates a single file consisting of all the data in your NTFS partition. (Note: Winclone now backups NTFS and FAT according to their site so backing up either should work for you). So, you need to make sure that the drive you are backing up to supports file sizes greater than 4GB which HFS+ does so we are in good shape. Once you have chosen the name and location for your backup file let this application work through your partition and create the single image of your Windows parition. The larger your partition the longer it will take.  For my 75G (60 Used) it took about 2 hours over a USB 2 connection.

Third Step:

With a copy of both your OS X partitions and Windows partitions you can shutdown and replace your current HD with your cloned HD. There are several sources that describe how to do this, like ifixit.com, but I’ll post my own efforts in another post.

With your new replacement hard drive installed and your Macbook all buttoned up your system should boot as it did before the upgrade.  If your Windows backup image from Winclone is on the same drive you just replaced then you are free to move to the next step.  Otherwise just connect a different drive with your Winclone image we performed in the previous step to prepare the next step of restoring your boot camp partition.

Fourth Step:

With your new drive installed and working properly with OS X you now need to re-partition your new drive using boot camp as you did initially when you first installed boot camp on your Mac.
Launch the Boot Camp Assistant and proceed to create your new boot camp partition.

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I decided that I would give my Windows volume a little more space so I expanded it from the original ~74G to 101G.  I simply moved the slider in the middle of these two drives to the left until I felt I had a big enough partion for both OS X and Vista.  My original boot camp share was ~74G with 15G available.  I work a lot in Windows sometimes for work so I wanted to ensure I gave myself enough room to install other software and keep files in this partition if I needed to so I increased the portion from my original 74GB to 101GB.  When you are ready just click on the “Partition” button.  The partitioning is fairly quick.  When you are done you will see the dialog box below…

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Since we are restoring and not re-installing Windows choose the Quit & Install Later button.  You now have a complete boot camp ready partition to restore your old boot camp partition to.

Fifth Step:

Now we are ready to restore your Windows partition you backed-up earlier using Winclone.

Open Winclone and choose Restore at the top of the application screen.

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Select where your Restore Image is located by clicking on the “Select Image” button. Remember this can be local on your newly installed HD or come from a different external HD you put your backup image on.

The Destination location will be the newly created BOOTCAMP partion we just created.  Click on the Restore Button and be patient as the data gets restored back to your new Boot Camp partition.

After this is finished you are almost done… If you are like me an use VMWare to run your Windows partition as a virtual machine in OS X you need to make another step to get things working properly. If you try to boot your newly restored windows partition VMWare fusion will give you an error stating it can’t find the boot camp volume; least this is what happed to me.   After checking that everything worked by booting into Windows directly by holding down the option key during a reboot and choosing Windows I looked for another solution.  I found that if I removed the directory “Boot Camp” in Documents/Virtual Machines/ within OS X I was then able to boot into the new partition.

Overall the entire process took 4 hours to do the backups of OS X and boot camp partitions, about :30 minutes to do the hard drive replacement, and another four hours for the repartitioning and restore to complete but given the additional hard drive space 160GB -> 500GB it was well worth the effort considering I didn’t have to reinstall any operating systems or software and I let most of the backups and restores run while I was off playing with the kids or sleeping.  The best part was not having to go through the long process of re-authorizing my Vista OS or Office software on my windows partition. I picked up right where I left off on both systems.

I’ve finally got the space I need to keep my media and applications flowing smoothly and will probably move my Linux virtual machines back to my laptop instead of keeping them on a separate hard drive. Good luck with your installation!

Update:  I was experiencing a considerable slowdown when running the virtualized boot camp partition after this was finished however after a little digging I discovered that my virtual session was only allocating 512MB of RAM not the typical 2GB I had originally assigned before the transfer.  This occured when I deleted and re-added the boot camp profile.  VMWare uses this as a default value for new virtual machines.  So just be sure that you assign the proper amount of RAM back to your Virtual Machine when everything is said and done.

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WordPress for iPhone now available


For all you mobile WordPress bloggers with iPhones. A new WordPress app is now available in the iTunes App Directory.
Not available yet for mobile download but I would imagine that will get refereshed soon as well.

Works great and users are finally able to post pictures while blogging on the run.

Setup is pretty easy offering far better options for posting and modifying entries then the web based plug-ins for WordPress blogs. A list of categories are available as well as the current status of your entry. The ability to post pictures is a much welcomed addition as well as a preview option for reviewing posts prior to posting. Kudos to the WordPress team and for making it Open Source


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Apple Now Third Largest PC Vendor in US


Apple is moving up the charts, toppling Acer to become the third largest PC vendor in the U.S., according to a survey from Gartner. Apple defied a weakening economy to record a 38.1 percent growth rate in U.S. PC shipments, according to Gartner. Overall PC shipments in the U.S. grew just 4.2 percent to 16.5 million units during the quarter. Looks like Apple with its hold on hardware and the OS might be on its way to becoming the next big monopoly. I just hope they keep producing good hardware and software.

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Rules for Startups


Billionaire Mark Cuban gives valuable advice for those contemplating a business start-up. A lot of what he says makes sense and would be wise decisions for anyone to follow. I’ve worked for some companies who didn’t follow many of these points… Needless to say I’m not working there any longer.

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Web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis offers some similar advice for startups as well.

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MIT Students Develop Solar Dish Hot Enough to Melt Steel

The MIT team believes that their lightweight, inexpensive device holds the promise of revolutionizing the power industry and providing solar power to even remote regions.

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VMware exec says Windows days are numbered


Seriously, and what will replace it? Would you believe a VMware exec saying it will be virtual applications running on… Linux? Believe it.

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Sun offers Free alternative to VMWare Fusion and Parallels


Virtualization continues to be a big topic among Mac users with Intel-powered Macs. Products from Parallels and VMware allow you to easily run many different operating systems on your Mac, each within its own protected virtual environment. Recently, a third player entered the market—Sun, with its VirtualBox product.


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Intel Health Guide gets FDA approval


Intel takes steps to improve patient health by gaining FDA approval for the “Intel Health Guide”, an 8 lb. unit that operates as a personal health management system at home and runs the equivalent of portal software to access various functions. Patients interface with the unit via a touch screen interface. Its goal is to improve doctor patient communications by prompting and encouraging patients to take their medications even going so far as to send inspirational messages to patients.

I think this is certainly a novel idea but would require an ubiquitious network infrastructure or cellular network to operate easily and reliably. Moving the management of health care to the patients will certainly go a lot further to reduce the already high costs of healthcare. Intel expects the Heath Guide to become commercially available from health care providers either late 2008 or early 2009. More information and a video can be found here.