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View Full Version : Mac Pro, Windows XP SP2, Partition Create/Restore


Baldenario
04-16-2008, 03:09 PM
As a bit of background, I switched from Windows to the Mac in 2001, but I still do a bit of consulting work in the Windows universe, because I know how to do InstallShield work, which is fabulous . . .

I stopped buying Windows computers and Microsoft stuff in 2000, which also is fabulous . . .

So, when a client wants me to do Windows installation development, I make them provide everything, which is kind of fabulous except that I have to look at Windows machines covered with strands of garlic, since this is the only way I can have "beige boxes" in the house without being totally freaked, which is OK but really not very fabulous (even though I like garlic) . . .

Consequently, I am in the midst of devising what I think is a fabulous solution that might get me an 8-core Mac Pro . . .

I called Apple Technical Support, and they said that I can use Boot Camp to create a Windows XP SP2 partition on each of four hard drives on a Mac Pro, which is fabulous . . .

This solves part of the problem, but due to the type of Windows development work I will be doing, I need to be able to do "destructive testing", which maps to installing software to one of the Windows XP SP2 "Boot Camp" partitions that has the consequence of hosing it completely, which is not so fabulous . . .

SO . . .

What I need to be able to do is to create a complete low-level image of the entire hard drive (or the partition if that works better) and to use this to recreate the hard drive after I do some "destructive testing" that hoses the Windows XP SP2 on that hard drive (possibly along with everything else, including the OS X "Leopard" image or anything that is on the particular hard drive) . . .

In the Windows universe, this is very easy to do, but I have never done it on a Mac, since I never have problems with my Mac . . .

SO . . .

Can I do this with SuperDuper!, and if there is not a lot of stuff in the Windows XP SP2 partitions, does it take very long to do a complete and full restore . . .

Also, are the SuperDuper! images totally low-level to the point that I can copy a Mac hard drive, toss the original hard drive, install a new blank hard drive, restore it via SuperDuper!, and there is no difference whatsoever, at all, in any way?

For reference, I am not trying to fool anyone or to avoid being fully licensed. I will have a licensed copy of Windows XP SP2 for each instance, and obviously I will have a licensed copy of OS X for the Mac Pro, itself . . .

The key to doing this is that I need to be able to restore the Windows XP SP2 partitions reasonably quickly (5 to 15 minutes, depending on the application and development software mix), since some of the more advanced InstallShield work is simply guessing and trying different stuff, which is strange, but it works . . .

For the curious folks who have never run a typical Windows installation program or setup, what usually happens is that the user has to answer a lot of totally pointless questions and to click on all sorts of silly "Next", "Are you sure?", "Would you like a free MSN account?", and so forth and so on, with all sorts of other stuff popping-up at odd times as Windows, itself, tries to intervene in the madness by going off on a tangent to try to install whatever you are installing, to the point that you have to cancel the Windows "helper" to continue the installation you started, which borders on global insanity, really . . .

So, I devise ways to make it work more like it does in the Mac universe, where you drag a happy icon to the Applications folder, and there you are. My Windows clients like this, and they are happy to pay for the work, which is fabulous . . .

If you have never run an installation program in Windows or watched one being run, you truly have no idea how messed-up it is over there . . .

Thanks in advance for any advice and help!

P.S. As a bit of a high-level summary, this is a typical scenario of what I need to do:

(1) There is an 8-core Mac Pro with 4 hard drives, one which has OS X and via Boot Camp one instance of Windows XP SP2 in a partition. Each of the three other hard drives also has an instance of Windows XP SP2 in a separate partition. All are fully licensed, and two of the Windows XP SP2 instances are setup for development (one with Visual Studio .NET and SQL Server 2000, and another with Visual Studio .NET and SQL Server 2005 Express), with these being used solely for development, hence will rarely need to be restored from saved hard drive images. The other two instances of Windows XP SP2 are used for "destructive testing" and likely will need to be restored from a set of stored hard drive images, depending on the type of testing I need to do, with the idea being that I need to be able to test installation programs based on having a "pristine" copy of Windows XP SP2 . . .

(2) During the development phase, I will do a lot of programming and stuff, which is fabulous. This will be done on the first two instances of Windows XP SP2 . . .

(3) When I start testing, I will want to run a prototype installation on one of the "test" Windows XP SP2 instances, followed by checking that everything is OK. Then, I will want to zap the "test" Windows XP SP2 instance and restore it from a saved hard drive image, with the restoring done via SuperDuper! and whatever external hardware is required to make it reasonably fast (5 to 15 minutes). These "test" Windows XP SP2 saved SuperDuper! images typically will be minimal, with just the operating system and SQL Server (2000 or 2005 Express) and no other application or system software installed after the fact, which overall maps to reasonably small "footprints" . . .

I can do this with DELL computers, but do I have enough strands of garlic to keep from being totally freaked?

NO!

Do I want four DELL computers?

NO!

I want an 8-core Mac Pro and an Apple 23" Cinema HD display!

So, the key to doing this is to be able to create hard drive images (or partition images, if that is possible), to have a library of them based on different testing scenarios, to be able to do "destructive testing", and to be able to restore the Windows XP SP2 partitions to "pristine" states very rapidly (5 to 15 minutes is plenty fast) . . .

Is this strange?

PERHAPS! But it is what I need to do, and if I can do it, then it puts Apple hardware on the table, which makes the table look GOOD and saves me a lot of money on garlic . . .

dnanian
04-16-2008, 03:14 PM
I'd do this without BootCamp. Instead, I'd use VMWare, a virtual 'disk', and simply copy and restore the disk image.

Baldenario
04-16-2008, 03:28 PM
The Windows XP SP2 instances must be native for a variety of reasons that involve highly specialized external hardware devices, so virtual stuff will not work. This strategy is possible, because via Leopard and Boot Camp once an instance of Windows XP SP2 is booted, it is running on Intel-based hardware natively, which makes it the same as if it were running on a "beige box" without any emulation or virtualization, which is the only way I can sell the idea to my clients . . .

Initially, I will need to do a bit of verification probably on a 20" iMac to confirm that a Windows XP SP2 instance truly is native in every respect, including being able to install external hardware, and if this works, then it provides a complete solution that avoids having to get a bunch of DELL computers, which in turn opens the fabulous door to selling Windows clients on the idea of using Apple computers instead of DELL computers, which then puts iPhone and iPod touch on the table, along with a lot of other stuff (including eventually doing native OS X application and system development) . . .

Thanks!

dnanian
04-16-2008, 03:36 PM
Ok. No real suggestions for you; I don't think Winclone will restore in the amount of time you're specifying.

Baldenario
04-16-2008, 04:00 PM
As a bit of follow-up, I see that there is another thread on pretty much the same general topic, which provided a bit more information but not enough to solve the problem definitively . . .

What I want to do probably appears to be a bit strange in the Mac Universe, but it is a very typical thing to do in the Windows Universe when one is doing application developing and testing. There is hardware and software in the Windows Universe that makes this very easy to do, and it is something that is a basic part of a "test laboratory" or "quality assurance laboratory" . . .

Depending on the complexity of a software development project, there can be quite a few computers in the "test lab", and people test new versions of software continually, which often involves "scrubbing" or "flattening" a test machine and then quickly refreshing it via a saved image, so that another round of testing can be done from a known foundation. Usually, the refreshes put a "pristine" image on the machine, but there are times when one wants to restore a test machine to a particular state where there is a problem, for example to determine whether a patch or hot fix works . . .

Is this a huge market?

I have no idea, but from experience, it is very likely that Windows developers who do a lot of testing will have some type of test laboratory, with a few test machines they can scrub or flatten and then restore quickly via "ghosting" software and hardware, so from this perspective it probably maps to a lot of potential customers . . .

The key to being able to do this is that the "ghosting" or "imaging" software must make a low-level copy of everything to the point that when a saved image is restored, it is no different from the original (in every respect), provided the saved image was done of the same machine with the exact same hardware and so forth (which preserves the identifier stuff that travels with the onboard chips and whatever, MAC ID, and all that stuff) . . .

Another way to explain this is to consider the Mac Pro scenario where there are four hard drives, and one hard drive has a Windows XP SP2 instance but is not an OS X bootable drive (in other words, the primary OS X drive is somewhere else). So, I make a complete and full copy of this second hard drive that only has a Windows XP SP2 partition made by Boot Camp (however that is done), which is fabulous . . .

Now, the hard drive crashes and is totally zapped, which means that it must be replaced entirely with a new hard drive . . .

Can I then use the saved image to make the new replacement hard drive the same in every respect as the original?

If so, then fabulous . . .

Otherwise, it will not work for what I need to do . . .

Thanks!

Baldenario
04-16-2008, 04:32 PM
Regarding the time it takes to do restore an image, if it takes longer, this can be OK . . .

One of the "beige box" test machines I am using has a 50GB image, so that probably is a typical size, and however much time it takes to do the restore either (a) internally from one hard drive to another or (b) externally via a Firewire 800 connection to a very fast external drive is fine, so long as it happens pretty much at the average sustained throughput of the hardware . . .

If it takes 30 minutes to an hour, then no problems . . .

However, for the 8-core Mac Pro scenario with 16GB of memory (four matched 4GB memory modules to optimize memory efficiency) and four very fast 1TB hard drives, taking 30 minutes to an hour to restore a 50GB partition on one of the hard drives becomes very practical if I can continue working on other stuff on at least one of the instances, which could be OS X, since there is stuff I can do in OS X, as well . . .

Also, since I need to support Windows 2000 Professional SP4, I can be doing stuff on those computers (which will have to be DELL or equivalent computers, due to Boot Camp only supporting Window XP SP2 or Windows Vista), which is fine . . .

Overall, intuitively I think that an 8-core Mac Pro with 16GB of memory and four very fast 1TB drives should be faster than greased lightning in terms of I/O throughput, even when it is interfacing via Firewire 800 to a very fast external hard drive, so whatever is a reasonable and typical time for doing the image restore (50GB to 75GB) will be the reality, and if that is one hour, then it is OK . . .

I bill by the hour, so it the image restore takes one hour, then I bill for one hour, which is fabulous . . .

The reality is that doing Windows installation developing and testing annoys me greatly, so I bill for the annoyance, which makes it tolerable and also makes it possible for me to get more guitar stuff, since above all else I am an entertainer who just happens to know how to do very specialized Windows stuff . . .

I want an 8-core Mac Pro so that I can run 8 to 16 instances of IK Multimedia Amplitube 2 and Wave Arts Panorama 5 in Digital Performer 5 . . .

If being able to do the Windows developing and testing stuff on the same 8-core Mac Pro makes this happen, then fabulous . . .

I get an 8-core Mac Pro, and I can deal with being highly annoyed by taking a break every so often and playing electric guitar through Amplitube 2 for a while until I vent all the angst . . .

Thanks!

Baldenario
04-16-2008, 04:40 PM
Winclone looks like it will work!

However much time it takes is the reality, which is fine . . .

So, the next question is how does SuperDuper! fit into the picture, since I think I need it, as well . . .

If I am understanding all this stuff correctly, I can use SuperDuper! for the primary OS X drive and doing Mac stuff, which is fabulous . . .

And I will use Winclone for the strange Windows XP SP2 stuff, which also is fabulous . . .

So, everything is fabulous . . .

Thanks for the help!

dnanian
04-16-2008, 06:13 PM
Yes, exactly -- SD!'s more than happy to work with the Mac side of things... :)