The launch of VMWare images on real hardware and other nuances of the Zalman VE-300


It was an ordinary evening. There was nothing to do, but somehow it was necessary to pass the time before sleep.
I decided to clean my external HDD from junk, and at the same time check if there is a new firmware on my favorite Zalman VE-300 pocket. Having visited the Zalman website, I just found one. While the firmware was downloading through the incredibly slow EDGE, I was looking through changelog. Such a line caught my eye:
Support VHD of MS / VMDK of VMWare which is virtual Hard disk file (Still not support for Dynamic)


Because shortly before that, I decided to study Windows server 2012, on hand I had a downloaded VMware image with Windows Server 2012 R2 x64 Datacenter installed . I was wondering how all this will work and whether Windows will start at all, “accustomed” to other hardware on my modest laptop. To celebrate, I copied the .vmdk file to the _iso folder on the external HDD, but when I tried to mount it using my pocket, I got the "No support for dynamic" error. This, in principle, was said in the changelog, and I began to google how to fix it. Searches quickly led me to official help, which described the VMware Virtual Disk Manager utility and examples of its use . It was necessary to convert my growable image into preallocated.

Vmware-vdiskmanager itself lies in the folder with VMware installed. The VMware website says how to convert preallocated to growable, but we need the other way around. By running vmware-vdiskmanager on the command line, you can see the full help with all possible options.
To achieve the desired result, you need to use the following command:

vmware-vdiskmanager –r <путь к исходному файлу> -t 2 <путь к конвертируемому файлу>

-r- a parameter indicating that we are going to convert
-t- an indication of the ID of the type of disk that we need
2- the type we actually need (preallocated virtual disk)
for example: An
vmware-vdiskmanager –r d:\Soft\vmware\Mint17_x64\Mint.vmdk -t 2 e:\_iso\Linux\Mint.vmdk

error “VixDiskLib: Invalid may occur immediately” configuration file parameter. Failed to read configuration
file. ”, But you can safely ignore it. Conversion will go further.
I started the conversion and while it was going, I decided to watch 1 episode of the series. The process refused a long one, because from 15 GB the image “grew” to 40 GB (the author of the distribution indicated such a partition size. Of course, I could change it, but I didn’t) + I immediately converted it to an external HDD, and USB 3.0 in mine Unfortunately, there was no laptop.

And with all this we’ll try to take off now

So, an exciting moment has come, namely, an attempt to launch. We mount the .vmdk image with our pocket, go to reboot, and select the pocket in the BIOS Boot Menu. To my surprise, Windows Server 2012 R2 x64 Datacenter booted successfully. Naturally, the drivers for all the equipment did not stand up, but the very fact of a successful launch is already pleasing.

Since the pocket mounts the image in RW mode, you can add drivers, software, etc. All this will remain and will not disappear, as is the case with a Live CD, for example.

As I said, I do not have USB 3.0. And with USB 2.0, Server2012 booted up to 45 seconds before the administrator password was requested. I think not bad though. Of course, it would be interesting to try with USB 3.0, but alas, my PC is far from me and it is not known when I can check it.
Also checked out Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon. As expected, the OS booted without problems. I suspect that any or the vast majority of Linux distributions will also load normally and will work. Windows XP SP3, in turn, crashed into the BSOD both in normal boot mode and in safe mode, which, in principle, is not strange.

I did not understand anything. Why all this?

Honestly, for me personally, so far, all of the above is of little use. Each VE-300 owner can find the application of this opportunity himself. Although, in this way you can make a good likeness of a Live CD, with your favorite OS, software, etc. Such an image will be useful to those who often put the OS on people, clean the virus and perform other PC maintenance. An obvious plus - all changes are saved, work is carried out with a real OS with the only difference being that it is launched from an external drive. Immediately I predict some comments like “Here I put the OS on a USB flash drive, and get the same result.” Yes, but:

1) Do not forget about the limited number of rewriting cycles on Flash memory;
2) The speed of the HDD via USB 3.0 will still be higher than the average USB 3.0 flash drive;
3) There can be a little more than a lot of such images on the VE-300, and they are conveniently stored - one image file for each OS.

If you still have ideas about how you can still apply mounting VMware images in this way, write in the comments, I will supplement the post.

All the same, this is a perversion!

I agree, so you can make the same Live CD or installation "media" easier.
Mounting ISO images is usually considered the main “feature” of the Zalman VE-300 and they focus on this feature in all kinds of reviews, but in addition to the above, the pocket can also mount USB Floppy, Removable Disk, and Fixed Disk images. Not only mount, but disguise as them.

Such images are created by the proprietary utility from Zalman - Backup Utility.

Just select the type of disk you need, enter the name of the image file, its size, click Add and File Create. Depending on the selected size of the image, its creation will take some time, because the images are not dynamic, and are immediately created to the full size. This is probably the only minus, although it is also a plus, as it prevents fragmentation of images on our external HDD.
After creating such mounts for the first time, they are defined as the corresponding device (USB Floppy, removable disk, local disk) and Windows suggests formatting them. With USB FDD, you can, for example, slip the driver of the OS installer onto the hard disk controller, on USB Removable you can write any OS distribution as on a regular USB flash drive, but on Fixed Disk - install the OS.

A typical example from my practice: sometimes when I installed Windows 7 or 8.1 using VE-300 on some PCs and mounted an ISO image (for a PC, a pocket is seen as USB-CDROM in this case), at the stage of selecting the partition to install, Windows issued the error "The required driver for the optical drive was not found."

This problem can be easily solved by writing the necessary distribution kit to the USB flash drive and installing it “the old fashioned way” (therefore, I always had such a “reserve” with me). But if you didn’t have one at hand, the problem can be solved as follows:

1) Create ~ 5 Gb of Backup Utility Removable Disk (or another size depending on the size of the distribution);
2) Mount this image with pocket tools;
3) Any convenient software is written to the appeared "Removable disk" the desired distrib;
4) Install by booting as with a regular flash drive;
5) We do not see the error described above.

Finally, I would like to talk about another interesting feature. Mounting USB FDD, USB Removable, and USB Fixed images does not affect the standard 3 modes of pocket operation (Dual Mode, HDD Mode, ODD Mode). If, after mounting USB FDD, USB Removable or USB Fixed, go to the menu in the Mode Select section and select Dual Mode, the pocket will successfully do this. As a result, you get “full stuffing” from all available modes:

C and D - local disks of a laptop hard drive;
E - mounted with a pocket .iso;
F and G - mounted .vmdk image of Server2012R2;
H - Section of the hard drive inserted into the pocket.

That's basically all that I wanted to tell. If someone is interested in the iron on which all the manipulations were performed, it is as follows:

1) Lenovo IdeaPad S210 laptop. Intel Celeron 1037U, 1800 MHz. ST500LT012-9WS142 (500 GB, 5400 RPM, SATA-II). 4 Gb DDR3 1600 MHz;
2) Actually Zalman VE-300. Inside HGST HTS541010A9E680 (JA4000C0GH81VC), 1 TB.

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