As you might have read on AtA, Windows Home Server (WHS) is Awesome.

WHS backs up all the machines on my network for me, gives me a central location to store all my files (MP3’s, Photo’s, etc) with redundancy in case a drive fails, gives me remote access to my files, and is able to do so much more…

But it can’t do everything. The OS partition for WHS is small and to get your application to start after WHS boots you need to either log on to the server and start it or get it to run as a service. Neither of which is a perfect solution if you want to do something automatically.

For example, I wanted to download podcasts to my podcast folder on my WHS. I could have just installed HappyFish, my current rss aggregator, to the WHS and let it do the work but if the server rebooted I wouldn’t always know I needed to remote in to the WHS and re-launch HappyFish, and I had other programs I wanted to run as well. What to do?

As it turns out WHS is based on the Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 supports Virtual Server 2005, therefore Windows Virtual Server 2005 will run on Windows Home Server. Whew, type ‘Windows’ much…

Using Windows Virtual PC on a local machine, I created a virtual Windows XP Machine and did all the current Windows Updates and installed HappyFish. Doing this locally was easier for me since I installed the OS using my local DVD drive and my local machine has a faster processor than my WHS but you can potentially install from within VS2005.

Next you will need to:

  • Install VS2005 on your Windows Home Server. I kept the suggested port of 1024
  • Create share for virtual machines on your Windows Home Server ( ex. \\whs\virtualMachines ) and copy the virtual image files to a folder there.
  • Launch your browser (Only IE supports running the virutal images from the browser) and head over to the Virtual Server web interface. http://whs:1024 for me.
  • Next add your new virtual machine under Virtual Machines by clicking Add and supply the path to your share with the virtual machine image you created. \\whs\VirtualMachineImages\WindowsXPPro\WinXP.vmc for me.Add Virtual Machine
  • Now you can configure the virtual machine by choosing Configure under Virtual Machines and selecting the virtual machine. Since the server will need to be restarted occasionally I decided to have the virtual machine always automatically start when the server starts and save state and keep undo disks on shut down. These settings are under ‘General Properties’. To automatically start the virtual machine you need to supply user credentials for an account on the WHS that will have access to the virtual machine files. I chose to use the administrator account.Configure Virtual Machine
  • Next you need to add a network. Under ‘Network Adapters’ choose the External Network with the name of the adapter in the Windows Home Server. This will give your virtual machine a virtual network adapter and connect it to your LAN through the physical adapter in the WHS.
  • I Setup my virtual machine to set it’s own IP Statically. Depending on your LAN setup and how you hand out IP’s you may need to make some changes to get your new virtual machine an IP.

You will see that VS2005 warns that SSL security is not enabled. As long as you are not opening up your VS2005 ports to the outside you can ignore this warning as the only unencrypted data is staying within your LAN.

Depending on how you plan to manage your virtual machines you may not need to open up these ports. Since my image is an XP Pro image I turned on Remote Access and I can use Remote Desktop Connection to gain access to the virtual machine. I also installed the connector software ( but turned off backups  ) and can use the WHS login page to remote to this machine from anywhere just like any other machine on my LAN via the WHS web front end.

If I need to access the VS2005 page from the outside I can Remote to any machine and use a browser from that machine.

After this little bit of work you now have a machine on your LAN with access to your WHS shares that is on all the time. It’s even green since you are utilizing a machine that is on all the time already without having to to add another machine with a power supply .

HP has sent us a sneak peak as to what is coming up for next year. Stay tuned for the exciting details over the next few weeks. And if you have any WHS work-a-rounds or hacks… WE WANT TO KNOW! That is what the comments are for.