Tips for migrating a physical computer to a virtual machine (part 3)

Returning to the series on how to migrate a physical computer to a virtual machine ( the next step in our journey is – what to do when you can’t even boot the virtual machine into safe mode?

Now – before I get into details here – I will give a warning.  People with systems that fail to boot into safe mode will quite often erroneously blame ‘AGP440.SYS’ or ‘MUP.SYS’ for their problems.  The reason why they believe that these drivers are causing problems is because they tend to be the last driver listed during the safe mode boot process.  99% these drivers are *not* the problem – rather, something that loads after these drivers (and provides no output) is causing the problem.

In order to get a system that won’t boot into safe mode to work – you will need to use the Windows Recovery console.  In order to do this – you will need to find a Windows XP / 2000 install CD – and follow these steps:

  1. Boot the virtual machine off of the Windows CD
  2. Select ‘R’ for repair
  3. Select your Windows installation and hit enter
  4. Type in your administrative password

This will get you to a plain command line interface – which is the Windows Recovery Console.  There are now a whole bunch of handy utilities available to you (you can get the entire list by typing in ‘help’ at the command prompt).  Some especially handy ones are:

    • allows you to configure and rebuild the Windows boot manager
    • will write a new bootsector to the system partition
    • will repair the master boot record for the boot partition (note – the boot and system partitions are usually the same partition – but this is not always the case)
    • will list all available services and drivers on the system
    • will enable the specified service or driver
    • will disable the specified service or driver

The first three options will help you if the virtual machine does not even get far enough for you to select to boot into safe mode – while the second three will help you if you can select to boot into safe mode – but fail to get all the way to the desktop.

If you have tried all of the tips so far and still have no success – there is one thing left to look at – the HAL.  And that will be the subject of the next post in this series.