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  • PC geek question! Clone XP pc to VM?
  • Premier Icon maxtorque
    Full Member

    To our resident IT experts (i know there’s a few of you here… 😉 I’m looking to retire an old XP laptop, that runs some old software that isn’t supported in Win10. It doesn’t get used much, but when it does it’s critical to have it working.

    At the moment, that s/w runs on that old laptop, which vulnerable due to being unique, and although the s/w and HDD are fully backed up / imaged i worry about the old h/w of the machine itself.

    So, what i’d like to do is to be able to clone that machine over to a virtual machine, but ideally, i’d also like to make that VM accessible from any of a number of Win10 machines, that currently share data over OneDrive. Is that something that is possible? ie can you run a VM machine from a cloud?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    The term you’re looking for is “P2V” (physical to virtual).

    I’d use VMware Converter personally, I’m sure there are many others out there. Where are you thinking of hosting the VM, what platform?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    What’s the software, out of interest? Are you certain there’s no modern alternative?

    XP is 17 years old and went out of extended support four years ago. If I had to have it kicking about on my network for some reason then I’d want it sandboxed as much as possible, not plugged into all and sundry Internet services.

    Premier Icon maxtorque
    Full Member

    The software is a custom bit of code written for interface to a now obsolete electronic control ecu. Yes, we could reverse engineer it and write something modern in it’s place, but that’s currently time we don’t have!

    At the moment, the XP laptop it resides on is effectively sandboxed from the outside world (no network coms or data exhchange via USB sticks etc) so is reasonably safe. It may be a question of just moving to a XP VM on a newer Win10 laptop, and doing the same with that, but i wanted to explore the idea of having that VM available to any Win10 machine. It sounds like that isn’t a good idea from what you have said!

    Premier Icon retro83
    Free Member

    You could P2V it, then run it on Vmware’s free hypervisor, ESXI. Then you can use the VMWare remote console to access it from any machine. If you give it network access, e.g. for Windows RDP make sure it’s firewalled with proper rules.

    The tricky part is passing through the interface hardware. That depends on what hardware it needs. At work we pass through SCSI, USB, and serial to VMs, but it can be a bit fussy about what it talks to. I’ve never got PCI passthrough working reliably even using stuff on the compatibility list.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    It sounds like that isn’t a good idea from what you have said!

    The problem primarily is that (aside from a couple of exceptional situations) XP hasn’t had any security updates since April 2014. You really don’t want it accessible from the Internet any more, and this is only going to get worse over time. If you can isolate it from that then it’s less of an issue if other machines can see it, but it’s still not great and a fairly considerable security risk.

    As retro83 says, VMware offer their basic ESXi server platform for free, though there’s a pretty sharp learning curve. There’s also VMware Workstation (also free). The server is its own OS, Workstation is a Windows application, so ESXi has the advantage of (much) lower overheads as you’re not running Windows twice over.

    https://my.vmware.com/en/web/vmware/evalcenter?p=free-esxi6

    https://my.vmware.com/en/web/vmware/free#desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_workstation_player/15_0

    One gotcha to be aware of when you P2V – infrastructure (ESXi) and Workstation perversely have different disk formats. You need to pay attention to the target when converting or it won’t work.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    Oh yeah, and match CPU architecture. If you P2V an XP machine from Intel to AMD or vice versa then you’re probably going to have a bad day.

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