Rangers – Lab Management Guide: Rough(necks) Notes #3 … Setting up an environment for a mobile Lab Rat

Part 3, continued from Rangers – Lab Management Guide: Rough(necks) Notes #1 and Rangers – Lab Management Guide: Rough(necks) Notes #2.

The objective

The objective was simple … find suitable hardware and install a portable development, evaluation and demonstration environment for the Lab Management Guide project, as quickly as possible.

The iron (hardware)

After chatting to colleagues and perusing blogs from Chuck and Brian, comparing features, pricing and the value of rugged hardware technologies, looking at the previous two blogs and references in this series, I eventually suggested the ASUS G73JH-B1 laptop. It delivers a huge punch of performance and features, including phenomenal gaming support, at a competitive price compared to other desktop or laptop models.

Review the system at http://www.ncix.com/products/?sku=55293&vpn=G73JH-B1.

Thanks Chuck and Brian for your patience with me, while I asked you more and more and more questions 🙂

Part 1: Installing the day to day production environment

Although I was planning to complete the entire exercise in one day, this first part kept me busy for 1.5 days. I partitioned the two 500GB as shown, loading Windows 7 on the production partition, together with all the various software … Visual Studio, WinRAR and all the utilities we gather over years and then spend time re-installing and configuring, breaking a sweat as license keys and instructions are often dusty or AWOL. The C drive is the production environment and will be secured with BitLocker as soon as possible, the V drive is the home of the boot-from-vhd images (see part 2) and the H drive is the shared data drive for content that must be visible from all operating system environments and need not be secured with BitLocker.

After 1 day of installing, configuring and multi-tasking on the old laptop, I eventually completed the production environment allowing me to place the old laptop in secure quarantine (in case I have forgotten something), switching my daily work to the new laptop and staring at a Windows Task Manager that I still have to comprehend … how is it possible to pack so much “umpf” in such a small footprint? Had you shown me the following image in the 80’s and told me that this would me my laptop, I would have dialled the next physiologist or tagged you as an alien.

… WOW!


  • You cannot invest too much time in organizing your tools, utilities and software you gather over months and years. Remember to keep the license keys handy as well.
  • Running disk defragmentation while installing software is not a good idea … it slows things down and needs to be re-run at the end anyhow.
  • Starting an installation or a backup 5 minutes before you have to storm out of the house to bring your kids to soccer tournaments is not a good idea.
  • The “just another 5 minutes” dream is just that … installing and configuring software takes time and exploring new hardware and software features is not something you can do in a few minutes.

Part 2: Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 Boot-from-VHD

To get ready for the VHD Test Drive – Visual Studio 2010 Lab Management environment I had to install a dual-boot Windows Server 2008 R2 environment. Using Keith’s post http://blogs.technet.com/b/keithcombs/archive/2009/05/22/dual-boot-from-vhd-using-windows-7-and-windows-server-2008-r2.aspx I created a Server dual boot environment so easily and quickly, that I am still wondering what I have forgotten. The boot-from-vhd is an exciting new world and I can see my boot menu growing in terms of selections in the not too distant future.

The next step is to install the VHD Test Drive – Visual Studio 2010 Lab Management environment, following the http://blogs.msdn.com/b/lab_management/archive/2010/07/01/lab-management-pre-release-2010-walkthrough-vhd.aspx post … but that will be done tomorrow at the office and reported on in part # of this series … I want to use the rest of Sunday to explore and drool over this amazing hardware 🙂

Part 3: Installing Lab Management

see you in the next post … to be continued.

Comments (1)

  1. Chandralal Pun says:

    Excellent post. Post the next steps soon I am learning TFS 2010. How to use virtualize machines for web testing on multiple browsers?