Tuesday, 16 September 2014

P2V of Windows Server 2003 with OEM license

My last post was about the activation issues after P2V of Windows Server 2003 with OEM license. However, there are much more than that to make the virtualised server to work properly.

So, before you start P2V process you will need to do the following:

  1. Upload Windows Server 2003 VLA ISO files to the VMFS datastore. You will need it to convert your  OEM based OS to VLA. The problem is that Windows 2003 can't be downloaded from Microsoft Volume License web site. So, check you cupboards for old dusty CDs with Windows 2003.
  2. Download Windows Server 2003 SP2 and IE 8 to the machine that you going to virtualise.
The preparatory phase is over and you can proceed with conversion:

1. Use VMware converter to virtualise your physical server.

While you are waiting for P2V job to complete write down all specifics of physical machine: IP addresses (there might be more than one), static routes, the status of services configured with Automatic start, local admin password, etc

2.  Power off the physical server and power on its virtual clone.

Make sure that your server boots properly, all services started and there are no errors/warnings in event log. You will be  notified that you need to activate your Windows in 3 days. Interestingly, on one of the servers I was locked out immediately after conversion. 

3. Convert OEM license to VLA. The only way to do it is to use Windows 2003 VLA ISO drive and run OS Recovery. Check my previous post for step by step instructions

4. Yep, now you got rid of those annoying reminders about Windows activation, but you haven't completed P2V yet. Now you can assign the static IP addresses and probably static routes you wrote down in step 1. 

5. There is a reason why I asked you to download IE8 and SP2 in advance. If you start IE on your virtualised server you will notice that after conversion to OEM (which was actually a OS recover) you have got IE6 installed instead of IE8. Moreover, this IE6 doesn't work at all. You can run it, but if you try to open any web site you get the following error - "The requested lookup key was not found in any active activation context".  
Also, if you check the system info you will notice that Windows doesn't have any service packs installed any more. 

On some forums I saw people recommending uninstalling IE8 and IE7 before doing OEM to VLA conversion, but in my experience it is always enough to install SP2 first and then install IE8 and everything works just fine. 

6. There is a good chance that a couple of your services fail after you did OEM to VLA conversion. If you start them manually they fail immediately with an error "the service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.". Normally, it means that timeout of 30 seconds was reached while trying to start the service, however in our case it fails immediately.  

If you check the properties of these services to note what executable file is used to run it and try to start in Explorer you will get the message that some dll in .Net folder is missing or corrupted. Unfortunately, I forgot to take snapshot of the error message so my wording of the error message is not really accurate.

Anyway, it means that one of your .Net Framworks was corrupted during one of the previous steps. All you have to do is to go to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel, find the latest version of .Net Frameworks and press Change button to start the Repair process. 

That's it. At least that has been all steps I need to take to convert multiple Windows 2003 OEM licensed servers with different set of applications installed. Surely, in you case it can be different.
So I would recommend running virtual machine in isolated network environment until you get all the problems sorted out. Thus, you have a chance to bring back on the physical server if something goes wrong with its virtual copy.

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Activation fails after P2V

I haven't done many P2Vs in my life, but all of them were very simple and straightforward.

However, this time I got a surprise.

The P2V of physical server with Windows 2003 Standard went well, but when I powered on the newly virtualised server and tried to login I received an activation error. 

I tried to activate the OS over the Internet, but it failed. I called MS to get some help on this as I knew that the physical server had a valid product key, but I was told that the Installation ID was wrong and I had to contact the company that sold us the OS. Considering that it was 7pm on Saturday it definitely wasn't an option for me.

I didn't have the product key and thought if I had it I could just type it in again and probably it could resolve my problem with activation. So I powered on the old physical server, installed Belarc Advisor tool which allows to collect all possible information about your computer and looked for Windows Product Key. To my surprise I noticed that it was OEM key. 

I am not an expert on licensing, but as far as I could remember the OEM license cannot be transferred to another computer.

I quickly checked the Microsoft FAQ and confirmed my suggestion:

"Q.  My customer bought a new PC and wants to move the OEM software from the old PC to the new one. Can't users do whatever they want with their software?
A. No, the OEM software is licensed with the computer system on which it was originally installed and is tied to that original machine. OEM licenses are single-use licenses that cannot be installed on more than one computer system, even if the original machine is no longer in use. The Microsoft Software License Terms, which the end user must accept before using the software, state that the license may not be shared, transferred to, or used concurrently on different computers. System builders must provide end-user support for the Windows license on computers they build, but cannot support licenses on computers they didn’t build. This is a fundamental reason why an OEM System Builder License can't be transferred."
That meant I had to reconfigure the OS for VL key. Apparently you can't simply enter VLA product key and get all the problems fixed. You have to use VLA Windows 2003 Server CD to update the OS to VLA.

Here is the how you can do it:

  1. Mount Windows 2003 Server VLA ISO to your VM and reboot it
  2. Press Enter on Welcome Screen
  3. Accept the license agreement
  4. Select the Windows installation to be fixed and press R to repair.
  5. The windows installation will start and in 10-15 minutes you will need to provide the VLK Product Key
After that just follow the main routine of P2V: configure networking, check event log, make sure all services started, make sure that all applications work as expected, etc. 

I am back, again

Hi everyone,

I am getting back to my blog again, for the second time.
There have been huge changes in my life as me and my family have moved to Sydney and I also got a new job.

Now I work for a small IT company called Tango Technology in a position of a senior engineer and I can tell that was a serious switch from a corporative culture and rules I used to work for the whole my life.

I can definitely see the pros and cons of working for small and big companies now, but I am not still sure which option is the best for me.

This year I missed VMware Expert and to be honest I haven't been working much with vSphere and had to learn of lot of new things and technologies which are apparently a commonplace in small IT companies, but I surely will be pursuing in the forthcoming year.

Talk to you later.