Posey's Tips & Tricks

Dual Booting Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

I walk you through the process it took to get both Windows 7 and Windows Server virtualized on my laptop.

Without a doubt, my absolute favorite thing about being a freelance technology writer is that working for myself gives me the freedom to set my own schedule.  That's a good thing, because I'm something of a travel junkie and no employer would put up with me being gone so much. In the last year alone I have visited 17 countries including places like Russia, Egypt and Antarctica.

The reason why I bring this up is because as much as I try to arrange my schedule so that I don't have to write while I am traveling, sometimes I don't have a choice. In the past this has always proven to be difficult because it is tough to write hands-on material when you don't have access to a lab.

Recently I decided to do something to make working on the go a little bit easier. I invested in a laptop with a ridiculous amount of memory and processing power. My plan was to install Hyper-V onto the laptop and then clone all of my lab virtual machines so that I could take them with me when I have to work on the go. Although the plan seemed simple enough, I ran into a couple of minor issues that I wanted to write about for the benefit of anyone else who might need to run Windows Server on a laptop.

I have to admit that I didn't thoroughly read all of the specs for the laptop. I made sure that it had the features that were important to me and then placed the order without bothering to check to see what other features it had. When the laptop showed up, I discovered that it had a 3D monitor, a 3D Blu-ray player and a graphics card with 3 GB of video memory.

I just couldn't let all of these cool features go to waste by running a server operating system. After all, how cool would it be to be able to watch 3D movies or play 3D video games on the go? Since I couldn't exactly do that from a server operating system or within a virtual machine, I decided to perform a dual-boot setup.

I probably haven't configured a computer to use a dual-boot setup in at least 10 years. Back then, all you really had to do to set up a dual-boot machine was to install the second operating system to a different folder. Of course a lot has changed since then.

The trick to dual booting Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 is to create separate partitions on the hard drive and then install each operating system to a different partition. When you install the second operating system, the installation process automatically creates the boot menu.

Although setting up a dual-boot configuration proved to be simple enough, I found that I had to change around my drive letters once I had the second Windows operating system up and running. My machine contains two physical hard drives: The first drive is split into two partitions -- one for Windows 7 and one for Windows Server 2008 R2. I planned to use the second physical drive exclusively for my virtual machines. I wanted this drive to be F: so that it would match the drive mappings of my primary lab server.

When I opened the Disk Management Console, I found that my second hard drive had been assigned the letter E: and the volume containing Windows 7 had been assigned as F:. I removed the drive letter mapping from the Windows 7 volume so that it would not be immediately accessible from the Windows Server 2008 R2 OS, and then assigned F: to my second hard drive.

I also made sure to boot into the Windows 7 OS and remove the drive letter mappings from volumes that I planned to use with Windows Server. This was of particular importance because I didn't want my Windows 7 antivirus program scanning the drive containing my Hyper-V virtual hard drives. You can actually do a lot of damage by scanning virtual hard disk files if your antivirus solution is not virtualization aware.

From that point on most of the rest of the setup process was a breeze. It consisted primarily of loading drivers and applications. Even so, there was one other issue that I ran into. When I installed my wireless network driver on Windows 7 it worked flawlessly. When I installed the same driver onto Windows Server 2008 R2, the driver installed properly, but the network adapter would not detect any wireless networks.

The reason why this happens is because Windows Server 2008 R2 disables wireless networking by default. If you ever have to enable wireless networking for Windows Server 2008 R2, you can do so by installing the Wireless LAN Service. To enable wireless networking, open the Server Manager, select the Features container and then click on the Add Features link. When you see the list of available features, select the Wireless LAN Service and then click Next, followed by Install and Close.

All in all, setting up my dual-boot system was a fairly smooth process. Even so, I wanted to talk about dual booting, drive mappings, and wireless networking for the benefit of anyone else who might be considering a similar configuration.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe on YouTube