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[Solved] Virtualizing Grandparent's PC with persistent DATA shares.


First forum posting (not sure I’m in the right place- there’s soooo many possible areas and no “newb” section I could find yet).


I’d like to finally virtualize my folks home PC, or rather, set up their home office PC with the best features of a VM

I.E.: snapshots, rollback changes, pausing and switching to another OS, persistent changes to individual DATA/files either direct on their hardware or on the LAN home server, if we move the data there.

I don’t know enough about virtualization products to know which direction to go. As you see below, I almost could do this with a dual-boot setup and a networked DATA share, but it would be better to allow them to have access to different OS’s to begin to convert and learn something new.

The #1 criteria is I can’t have the machine restarting (for dual boot), or the boot-wait times for them while it restarts –they’re too busy as professionals.

So virtualizing the OS seems to be the best route, and gives them the ability to try out new OS’s and “pause” what they’re doing when they pause a VM. There’s only ever one user on the machine at a time, but I’m guessing one will like newer OS’s more than the other.


I have full versions of Workstation 8 and 10 and my home server is running the free version of ESXi 5.5 currently (just got it and trying it out).


a) Their home office PC: 64-bit C2D; currently has two partitions on one HD =

  1. OS partition
  2. DATA partition (can be moved to the server on the home-lan)

b) My home file-server, a big 8-core 3ghz Xeon beast with 32gb ECC and some fat HD's and a GB lan.

Note: Everything is on a static-IP home-LAN (with a static-WAN/IP to the outside world). I have direct access to all the machines and some other machines here.

I’d like them to have the ability to

  1. Have the opportunity to try out other OS's and pause/resume their sessions
  2. Persistent changes to their DATA
  3. Consistent access to the persistent DATA (it's accessed sometimes over the WAN)
  4. The GUI experience for them to be virtually seamless = I.E. simple grub-like menu for choosing which VM they want to run when they sit down.


  1. I need to do this almost entirely without their awareness –so while I have time, I need their “user experience” to be virtually seamless (a menu at most) once it’s done.
  2. I do NOT want to run a VM inside a player/workstation within their current OS as their home PC is a bit slow and outdated.
  3. I don't want to be running extra PC's -they need to keep their utility bill low.

Their technical limit is selecting a menu with the OS's listed -I can’t have them disconnecting drives or mounts or shares, etc. (-they’re older folks and not likely to change). I know for a fact however that once they start using other OS's they'll really like them and will want to convert from win XP. Also they will have their own preferences (Win 7 for the MS fan and Kubuntu/Mint for the more adventures one). I also do NOT have the ability to reinstall their current software for Windows XP 32-bit (or they'll know something is up) which is another reason to VM everything- they don't ever do anything demanding with their rigs (netflix/MS office). I can sling direct cables to the server easily enough (they're just a few feet apart) if running everything off the server and removing their PC would keep their bills down (I use the server's capabilities maybe once in a blue moon and at most 20% of what it could do).

I REALLY appreciate your input and help

–thank you!!!

Message was edited by: VirtualyFoolish: Solved

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4 Replies

Yes, you can do it so Easily.

Step 1) install all the virtual machines in your Vmware workstaion .

Step 2) Configure the NAT for all of your Virtual machine which your Grandparents Want to use. Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkKQrngBbbs

Step 3) Share the Data and drive across all the vms to access them in any of your machine.

I believe it will meet all your needs.


Please consider marking this answer "correct" or "helpful" if you found it useful. Anjani Kumar | VMware vExpert 2014-2015-2016 | Infrastructure Specialist Twitter : @anjaniyadav85 Website : http://www.Vmwareminds.com
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Well, not sure if that helps.

I converted their "PC" (the OS drive) into a VM, on my server (I can run it from my own network and other machines fine, so it worked).

Now, back at their machine, I've got no OS, for all practical purposes (if we're moving forward)- it's bare metal and a blank drive.

I'm not interesting in having them run workstation or player on TOP of their old OS. I don't want to have them restart for dual-triple boot or whatever -I want them to be able to pause and select with VM they want to run.

So what do I install to give them access to the VM's on their own PC (preferably, or I can host or the LAN server if that's the only way to do it)


-Again, it's "bare metal" PC here, with no OS and it's looking for something to boot -I.E. the VM. IS there a VMware product for this? I have ESXi 5.5 on my server and if I put the same on their PC, they still can't start the VM's from there (I have to start my VM's remotely and run them remotely from what I've seen)- so I'm stumped.

I was under the impression that one could install a hypervisor on a bare-metal PC and then start various OS's (VM's) from that same machine/terminal. Is that not possible?

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Sorry. But what you are expecting is really not entertained by any vmware product.

Alternatives are many but cost enough to you and can't be possible in your existing environment.

you need at least a OS to get it work.after that they can access the vm only.  No alternative for that.


Please consider marking this answer "correct" or "helpful" if you found it useful. Anjani Kumar | VMware vExpert 2014-2015-2016 | Infrastructure Specialist Twitter : @anjaniyadav85 Website : http://www.Vmwareminds.com

Yeah. I figured it after realizing my question really was- can a VM be accessed and run FROM the machine hosting it, ever?

Short answer: No.

-You need either to have TWO machines running and networked, or you need, essentially TWO operating systems.

Whomever develops what I was looking for will make a billion, probably more than Microsoft ever did. It's amazing no one has done this- I think the majority of ALL home computer users and business would buy this BEFORE they buy an operating system- that way they can try out everything -the great issue and bane of upgrading OS's. One would wonder why VM has reduced or not developed the capacity within their hypervisor offerings to allow a version to run non-headless -I.E. with the ability to run FROM that machine the VM's which are being hosted ON the machine. Limiting it only to remote access or not developing an actual REAL virtualization layer for the PC itself, seems like a huge oversight or failure, excused perhaps only by the previous server markets.

Oh well.

Dual boot or thin client it is.

And this ends my interest in VMware products, least for now.

thanks for your help.

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