Valery's Mlog

Mindlog of a Freak
December 2nd, 2008 by Valery Dachev

Virtual PC 2007 on a Laptop

This post is something like a reminder to myself. It is something I’ve found in several blog posts in the Internet but I’d like to share it as well…

Some time ago I decided to do my development in virtual machines so I could easily reinstall my boxes and/or migrate my work to another PC. I’ve tried different solutions and I decided to use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. Unfortunately I’ve always had problems with the guest operating system being not as responsive as expected when hosted on my laptops. At first I thought it was my laptop configuration (HP Compaq nc6320) but after I bought a new one (HP Compaq 8510w) nothing changed compared to my old one. It seemed like some power management issue (it was like the processor was downclocking although the virtual machine was active) but playing with the Power Options didn’t help. My simple (but really ugly) workaround was to keep the processors busy by running some BOINC projects.

I was almost right. As pointed out in Ben Armstrong’s blog HP laptops seem to be one of those that “stop their system timers when entering low power modes” which effectively downclocks the virtual machine’s CPU – this could be easily seen with tool like CPU-Z. In this case the (temporary?) solution is to enable an idle thread of the Virtual PC process to keep the processor busy by doing some useless for the society tasks and drains your battery… In fact the solution (described in details below) is better than BOINC because Virtual PC is a single CPU process and the idle thread occupies exactly the same CPU. When using BOINC on a multi-processor (or multi-core) system however you have two options: 1. launch it on one CPU and pray it will run on the same CPU/core Virtual PC does; or 2. launch it on all available CPUs/cores and pray for  battery life. So the more environment-friendly solution is:

  1. Stop all running virtual machines and the Virtual PC Console;
  2. Locate and open your Virtual PC’s Options.xml (usually in “%AppData%\Microsoft\Virtual PC\Options.xml“) with a text/XML editor of your choice;
  3. Find the last “</virtual_network>” tag and add the following section (if missing) after it:
    <virtual_machines>
    <enable_idle_thread type=”boolean”>true</enable_idle_thread>
    </virtual_machines>
  4. Save and close the file. Launch a virtual machine.
  5. Your laptop’s fans shoud launch automatically.

I wonder if HP intend to fix this behaviour in some future BIOS updates…

Comments

30 Responses to “Virtual PC 2007 on a Laptop”
  1. […] Louie . Excerpt: Unfortunately I’ve always had problems with the guest operating system being not as responsive as expected when hosted on my laptops. At first I thought it was my laptop configuration (HP Compaq nc6320) but after I bought a new one (HP … […]

  2. Like yourself , I migrated to using laptops , not for their speed? but more for portability , especially in getting to and from clients, invariably using 2 or 3 machines ata time .Hp compaq are my choice , solely for reliability , though I have found them to be tempermental, Now I use advents( don’t laugh)They have a high degree of reliability , and for some reason the drivers are very basic , which helps with all conflicting resources, and minimum installation additions.

  3. Now I use advents( don’t laugh)They have a high degree of reliability , and for some reason the drivers are very basic

  4. I have also had some probems with this.. Need to buy a new laptop also :P

  5. As a developer even I use virtual machines in my laptop. But I use VMware rather than Virtual PC. VMware runs stable and has not given me any trouble so far.

  6. optimierung für suchmaschinen says

    I agree with Laptop Computers. I also have being using VMware for the past few months in my laptop and it hasn’t given me any trouble yet. Unlike Virtual PC which I used before moving to VMware. Had a tough run with VPC. Interesting post. Cheers

  7. Cufflinks says

    Well i too am a developer but haven’t had any good times with neither virtual PC or VMware. But comparing both the applications VMWare has a small edge with stability.

  8. payday loans says

    I GOT A LAPTOP FOR MYSELF A FEW MONTHS AGO AND GAVE MY DESKTOP TO MY SON. I THOUGHT IT WAS PRETTY MUCH USELESS. WELL, MY SON HAPPENED TO TURNED OUT A REAL COMPUTER GEEK. HE FIXED AND UPGRADED EVERYTHING NOW HIS DESKTOP HAS EVERY FEATURE YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE BEST COMPUTER, EXCEPT FOR THE PORTABILITY. I WISH I HADN’T INVESTED IN MY LAPTOP.

  9. eatandstay.com says

    Well yes,desktops can be more powerful than laptops. Especially because you can upgrade the system anytime you want. Anyway, virtual PC has been a rough walk in the park. it has failed me few times. May be I’ll try out VMware of Advent for a change. Thanks

  10. UK Online says

    Stumbled across the article and thought to add some information to the discussion. I’m using a Dell D600 and Virtual PC 2007 is no good at all. VP 2004 is also giving trouble. I tried out Advent and it was ok. Very much better than VP 2004 and 2007

  11. Fluke Ti10 Thermal Imager says

    I haven’t used virtual PC 2004 or 2007. But I have seen lots of people having problems with it. I use VMware. It work for me and i haven’t had any problems yet.

  12. iPhone says

    I haven’t also used virtual PC 2004 or 2007. But I have got Dell D600 which is user friendly and doing much much better than what I expected.

  13. Payday loans says

    you know I have had problems with the guest operating system as well! what can I do about that? please let me know anyone.. I’ll check back later!

  14. I am using lenovo thinkpad x-series. Virtual PC 2007 does not have any big troubles running on it. Although it runs too fast or too slow sometimes, I think it is expected since the power management tool affects the CPU clock speed. I have tried VMware. VMware runs quite smooth on my laptop when I am setting the laptop with maximum power consumption.

  15. online keno websites says

    I want to buy a laptop and my budget is nearly $900 I am looking for a good brand, but all seems to be nice. Could you suggest me which one would be better among Dell, compaq and lenovo and sony, coz these are among the most popular ones.

  16. Thanks for the tutorial, it is very helpful.

  17. This really makes me even more less likely to buy a new HP laptop. I have had one now for two years, and i have had so many issues with it that i don’t even dare to think about it. The customer support has been excellent though. But that really doesn’t help much if they cant deliver what they promise. I prefer to have a laptop that is running great at all times compared to having nice people on the phone.

  18. I have not yet encountered such a problem, but soon I’m going to buy a new laptop and I am afraid that I have the same problem.

  19. Antivirus says

    Interesting discussion. I’ve used Virtual PC in my laptop and neither have I come across this problem. I believe may your laptop OS is causing some sort of problem rather than the hardware

  20. Zip Codes says

    I’ve recently started using VMware. It is ok, but eats lot of memory. I will try virtual PC 2004 or 2007. Thanks for sharing the information.

  21. Powerbook Computers says

    I has try use virtual PC 2004 and 2007. and the result is bad bad. by the way Thanks for sharing the information.

  22. Gary Scott says

    I tried your solution and it worked very well. Thank you.

  23. cash advance online says

    i love my hp they are great.

  24. St. George homes says

    I don’t feel as excited about my hp as you do. I had to replace the CDRom drive just after a few months. Now the thing just lags and lags…it’s so slow. But hey, at least it gets the job done.

  25. laptop deals says

    I used VMware workstation and I am very happy with it.

    Do whatever makes you happy, because then it will show in your work and make your friends and family happy!
    Peter from http://www.dealsvista.com

  26. SnowBoy says

    Great! Thanks for sharing.

  27. Shelley says

    Gawd, I too have a Compaq. I will follow your 5 points of advice. Thanks.

  28. snowboyz says

    Thank for sharing.

  29. Outsourcing Software Company says

    I’m hoping to buy a laptop. I use VMware at the moment on my desktop. Your information is very useful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  30. Amazon Best Deals says

    I’m thinking of using virtual pc on my notebook. because I need it for education purposes. Good thing I read your post. I’ll follow your 5 points. Thank you for sharing the information.

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