VHD Lifestyle – My SharePoint 2007/2010 Development and Home/Media-Network Setup!

First - Many thanks to Windows 7 (and 2008 R2), there has been some very useful enhancements in my “Digital Lifestyle” recently!

Windows Vista didn’t fly with me so well as development machine, and I’d always go back to Windows 2003… mostly for SharePoint development setup on my working desktops.

Once Windows 7 was RTM, I was quick to jump off RC (no stability reason really). That also gave me a reason to re-look at my existing setup, which wasn’t working comfortably well for me. So without much ado, let’s see what all I have in my setup and what I did to improve, and what is perhaps missing that you can suggest I can do to further improve...

What do I have and wanted to improve – and did?

  1. Desktop: AMD Quad CPU, 4 GB DDR2 800, 2 SATA-II drives (500 GB each, RAID 1), with a 24” screens.
  2. Server: AMD Dual CPU 64X2, 8 GB DDR2 800, 4 SATA-II drives (2X500GB RAID 1, 2X2TB RAID 1 as WHS "duplicated" storage)
  3. Laptop: A Lenovo T-61 laptop with 2 GB RAM!!! Wi-fi connected.
  4. GBit Linksys Router, with Xbox 360 Elite and Epson photo printer on it’s network.

With this primary hardware, I wanted to maximize productivity with ease and flexibility of supporting demanding SharePoint environment needs. So I did following:

  1. Server: Setup my server as Hyper-V (on R2) and instead move my Windows Home Server (WHS) as Virtual. I also host nifty website or two (on demand) from Home (using DynDns) on a 2mbps line! (that’s almost the best in India at the minute, with unlimited bandwidth use) So I also setup a Web Server as virtual. Shared 8 GB amongst the three, with sufficient 2 GB for WHS.
  2. Desktop: I’ve either utilized hack from Bamboo solutions for setting up SharePoint on Vista, or had depended on VPC for Win 2003 SharePoint VMs in past. So I now setup Windows 7 Ultimate on desktop as prime. I also have 4 VHDs created to desired setup, and attached to boot from using BCDEdit. So when I now want to work on SharePoint exclusively, I simply re-boot quickly. (I don’t mind anymore, since its so fast!)
  3. VHD Lifestyle – I was super excited to try new support of VHDs for booting from. There has lot already been said about VHD benefits, and I referred following to get me Native Boot on Server (for Hyper-V) and multiple-boots on desktop (as in diagram). This gave me flexible and on-demand environments that I can kill and build in minutes, not hours. And I’m truly loving the flexibility.
    1. Native VHD Support in Windows 7
    2. Native Boot Scenarios: Advanced deployment – page 29 onwards
    3. Scott Hanselman talks about his lifestyle. Here and here
    4. Wim2VHD – Convert Wim to sysprepped VHD.
  4. Utilized Media Center on desktop and Extender on Xbox, with all Media content centralized and managed by WHS on 2 TB (RAID and duplicated, with self-managed full backup of all my VHDs and drives!!!). Virtual WHS maps physical TB drives.
  5. Laptop, Desktop are Windows 7, Home Server is Windows Home Server, and all others are Windows 2008 R2 (VHD boots or virtual machines).


Planned configuration… (* SP 2010 on Win 7 assumes that hack from Bamboo will be available at the time of public beta, to install on Win 7)


There is so much of goodness, and also feature completeness I now find with combination of Windows 7, 2008 R2, WHS, and updated Xbox Media networking features (with Win 7)… that Digital Lifestyle and desired dev productivity at home is certainly coming full circle! My content is now much more accessible (thanks to HomeGroup and WHS), and with a comfort that it all is being backed up. I’m still missing SSD on my laptop (or perhaps desktop as well), but RAID 1 is keeping me quite happy and works well for SharePoint.

What am I critically missing?



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