Lorikeet and iBook

Virtual PC - Wintel (Windows) emulation on a Mac

[Tips] [Dos apps] [D: (data) drive] [Z: (mac) drive] [Crash recovery] [Speeding up VPC]

Virtual PC runs under the Mac OS X operating system and allows you to create a virtual Windows PC that uses most of the Mac's hardware. Don't expect anywhere near the performance of a dedicated, modern Windows PC but you should be able to run a wide a variety of Windows programs, including MS Access (which is not available for OS X). Video intensive apps (eg games) and USB hardware are likely to cause heartache!

Tips (these apply to VPC6 but most should work with VPC7)
512MB is not enough for run OS X and VPC with XP effectively.  You
should have at least 512MB for OS and 256MB for VPC. I'd recommend
upgrading to 1GB. This will help both OS X and VPC run better.
However, you should leave VPC's memory setting to 256MB, upping it
will degrade performance. If you find you are running out of RAM in
VPC, then you could increase it.

Another big factor in VPC performance is bus speed and disk speed.
And, IIRC, iBooks generally have the lowest speed for both of these
and this is a big hit on VPC. You could try moving your Windows VM to
an external hard drive, preferably one with a 7200rpm or higher speed.

Once you have copied the VM file (eg Windows XP Professional.vpc7) to the
external hard drive make an alias to it in your VPC List folder. To do
this using Finder, hold down Option-Command and drag the file's icon to
<user>:DOCUMENTS:Virtual PC List

Creating a d: drive on a Virtual PC
Keep your c: drive reserved for configured programs and the Windows system. Create a d: drive to store all your data. In this way you can quickly recover from a serious Windows crash by restoring the VPC file for the c: drive (see tip above). Your precious data will still be there in the d: drive VPC file (which should also be backed up, of course).

Use Virtual Disk Assistant to create a new drive image for this purpose  The Virtual Disk Assistant can be selected from the Windows menu of the VPC menu bar under OS X. This is used to create a new hard disk image ('Create new floppy or hard disk image'). As an alternative, you might be able to use an "old" image file such as from a previous version of VPC. 

Once this is done go to your VPC List and select (click once) your Windows (c:) drive. Click Settings and then click Drive 2. Now select your newly created drive from the drop down list. This will become your d: drive.

It is a good idea to back-up this image file regularly if it contains important data. It should be in <home>:Documents:Virtual-PC-List as a *.vhdp file. While you are at it, back up the *.vpc6 file (which should be your c: drive image).

With VPC6 you can access the contents of your d: drive image file directly from OS X. Just double click on the file from Finder and it will mount the volume on the desktop. This can then be browsed and managed with Finder.

One advantage of storing your important data in a d: drive (rather than the c: drive) is that it can be copied to any other Mac (OS X) and accessed from VPC6 on that machine. It is unlikely that you could do this with the c: drive image (since it is hardware dependent).
Creating a z: drive to access Mac files from VPC
From your VPC List select (click once) your Windows (c:) drive. Click Settings then select Shared Folders. Make sure Local Volumes is checked and click OK (ignore the status line 'Not installed'). Start VPC. If VPC Additions is installed then your Mac drive should appear as the Z: drive. Otherwise you will need to install it. Just click on the jigsaw icon at the foot of the VPC window to start the installation process.

Note that I find use of the z: drive slows things down considerably. I often work on data on the d: drive and copy it over to the z: drive at the end of processing.

Crash recovery
"Search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for file 825413. www.support.microsoft.com
I used the new saved hard drive document and created a new pc with it. Open Virtual PC and in your Virtual PC list, click "new" then "create a PC manually". In the next window "select a hard drive data source" choose "use an existing Virtual Hard Drive Document" and select the saved document that you created. This created a new PC that appears in your Virtual PC list with all the files intact from the corrupted PC that wouldn't start. I'm no expert so you might want to get a second opinion on this crazy solution, but it worked for me."

Running DOS apps under OS X  & alternatives to VPC

do shell script "/path1/DosBox.App/Contents/MacOS/DosBox /path2/oa4.bat" 
where the path1 is to the Dosbox app and path2 is to the directory containing the OA4 code or - in this case - a batch file to start it up. Note that path2 becomes the root of the c: drive.

Disclaimer: These tips are really my record of ways to do things on the Mac and might not be suitable for your system. If they work for you - great. Backup your data regularly, particularly before  trying any major changes to the system.