[Dirvish] Windows machines, dirvish/rsync, and vmware

Keith Lofstrom keithl at kl-ic.com
Tue Jan 16 15:07:36 PST 2007

On Fri, Jan 12, 2007 at 11:50:06PM -0800, Keith Lofstrom wrote:

> I am not running XP or Vista, but I do run Windows 98 as a guest
> image under VMware on one of my machines.  More precisely, I use
> vmplayer, which is free, and does a pretty good job as a virtualizer.  
> vmware makes virtual disks (.vmdk files) which the guest image treats
> like real disks.  When the guest image is halted, the images are
> accessable with a program called vmware-mount.pl .  I have not explored
> this in detail, but it looks like an interesting way to get at the
> windows files from the host.  If it is a Linux host, then dirvish/rsync
> could back up the guest via the host.

More information:  I found that using a native vfat partition and
sharing it with VMware led to some problems - some files getting 
lost, and increasing slowness.  So now I am using a .vmdk for the file
system, and accessing it with vmware-mount.pl .  That program calls
a number of other programs, insmod-ing a kernel module for a device
that acts like a loop mount, and using the linux vfat file system
drivers to access the mounted filesystem stored inside the .vmdk file.

This works better, though I would like to use it for a few weeks of
heavy use before recommending it to others.  Still, it does provide
an alternative path for rsync to get to the data inside a stopped
windows guest, so those of you running XP might want to experiment
with vmware and see whether the experimental Linux ntfs filesystem
driver works well enough to read the files from a static image.  

One of the cool things about VMWare is that the display is X, and
exportable over a network.   Another cool thing is that you can
clone the .vmdk files and config files, and run multiple copies of
a guest simultaneously.  All virtual guests have identical virtual
hardware, so the clones do not complain about changed hardware. 
You can, of course, make backups of the .vmdk files themselves,
though you should use something for backup that differences files
and stores differences, which dirvish/rsync does not. 

Note that all those nifty capabilities probably violate the Windows
EULA, and instead you should always do everything Microsoft tells you.


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

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