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Windows 7: Virtualized HTPC

09 Jul 2009   #1
mikinho
Microsoft MVP

6x W2K8 R2 (x64), 6x W7 7600 (x64), 2x Gentoo (x64), 1x Ubuntu 9.04 (x64), 1x pfSense (FreeBSD)
 
 
Virtualized HTPC

I recently, around W7 RC1 release, was having problems with the reliability of my MCXs (WAF was pretty low) so I decided to see if a virtual HTPC dedicated to the MCXs would work out well. I've been using this setup for almost 2 months now and have not had a single issue.

My basic setup is: primary HTPC in the living room, 3 extenders for each bedroom and my server. There are laptops and my development machines as well but those are my core HTPC components.

I created a W7 virtual on my W2K8 R2 server under Hyper-V and optimized it for background applications. All my media was on my server but instead of sharing and accessing it over the network stack (well a virtual stack) I tool the drive offline and attached it directly the virtual. I then setup each extender to use the virtual HTPC instead of my primary. What I really liked about doing this is that I can now setup my HTPC to sleep. We tend to watch movies from the bedroom so the HTPC is rarely on now.




HTPC (Living Room)
  • W7 x64
  • Antec Fusion Max
  • Corsair HX520w
  • ASUS P5E-VM
  • Core2 Duo E8400 3.0Ghz
  • Corsair DDR-800 4GB RAM
  • Auzentech X-Fi HomeTheater HD (engineering sample..a little buggy)
  • Gigabyte NVidia 8600GTS (I'm trying to get a "free" CUDA based card, no luck so far....)
  • OCZ Vertex 60GB (C:\D: System\Apps)
  • WD 1TB (G: Data, for Live TV and temporary storage)
  • LG GGC-H20L BD/HD DVD
  • Nexus Real Silent Case Fans
  • Passive Thermalright HR-1 CPU Heatsink
Server


I'd like to update this system soon (low on memory and disk space) but I need to get more side-work first
  • W2K8 R2 x64
  • Antec Mini P180 (great case but I did have to mod a little to fit the extra drives)
  • Corsair HX620W
  • ASUS P5E-VM (Newegg sent me two, otherwise would have gone w/ another board)
  • Core2 Duo E8400 3.0Ghz
  • Corsair DDR-800 8GB RAM
  • OCZ Vertex 60GB (C:\D: System\Apps)
  • 3ware 9650SE-8LPML (SATA II Controller)
  • WD 2TB x8 (broken into 2 arrays, 1 for media and another for data)
  • Nexus Real Silent Case Fans
  • Intel Dual Port Gigabit PCI-e NIC (dedicate to pfSense)
The server has the below virtuals running
  • 2x W2K8 R2 Core (Domain Controllers)
  • 1x W2K8 R2 Core for SQL2K8 R2
  • 1x W2K8 Web Edition
  • 2x Gentoo
  • 1x W7 x64 (HTPC and Home Automation)
  • 1x pfSense (pfSense Rocks!)
Network
  • HP J9078A 10/100/1000Mbps ProCurve Switch 1400-24G
  • pfSense Router (this replaced a Cisco 831 Series Router)
  • Apple Time Capsule 1TB (What a worthless device but free)
  • Apple Airport Extreme (802.11N)
  • Apple Airport Express (802.11N) x2
Note: Most SOHO switches will not be able to handle HD streaming using the base NIC settings.



Other
  • MacBook x2
  • Primary Computer (used to be my gaming rig....pre-marriage)
  • HDHomeRun x2 (shared between HTPC01 and HTPC02)
  • XBox 360
  • Linksys DMA-2200 x3
  • DirecTV Integration w/ custom app for launching DirecTV2PC
    PowerDVD9
  • Slysoft AnyDVD HD
  • Yammm
  • Full Home Automation



My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
12 Jul 2009   #2
fakeasdf

Win 7 Pro x64 x 3, Win 7 Pro x86, Ubuntu 9.04
 
 

How is your HTPC in the living room connecting to your Virtual HTPC? I presume it isn't connected like a media center extender and the drives from your server are just mapped into your living room HTPC...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2009   #3
mikinho
Microsoft MVP

6x W2K8 R2 (x64), 6x W7 7600 (x64), 2x Gentoo (x64), 1x Ubuntu 9.04 (x64), 1x pfSense (FreeBSD)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by fakeasdf View Post
How is your HTPC in the living room connecting to your Virtual HTPC? I presume it isn't connected like a media center extender and the drives are just mapped?
Not mapped but yes shared via a Home Group and as a DFS Link. The HDHomeRun is utilized from both HTPCs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

12 Jul 2009   #4
fakeasdf

Win 7 Pro x64 x 3, Win 7 Pro x86, Ubuntu 9.04
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mikinho View Post
Not mapped but yes shared via a Home Group and as a DFS Link. The HDHomeRun is utilized from both HTPCs.
Ahh, HomeGroup connection, that makes sense... Yeah, I have HDHomeRun also, it's a wonderful thing, except when the power connector went out, but they replaced it for free, so no hard feelings... Although, I'd rather have a cablecard, but stupid OCUR...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2009   #5
Flaxon

Windows 7
 
 

Hi,

good to hear someone got the DMA2200 connected within a domain, because I have no success.

I also have a domain (2003 R2) and my PC is running Win7 RC (domain member). I have connect the DMA2200 to my switch (cable)

If I try to connect the DMA in MC, it starts and then hangs at the last step for a couple of minutes. The DA says 'Connecting failed' and MC say that, too.

But I can see the DMAin MC and the DMA keeps the connection setting, but I cannot connect.

Has anyone a good idea where to start troubleshooting? I not very experienced with MCE, so do not have a good idea where to start.

I have tried (without success) disabling the Firewall so far. Also I tried to establishing a Home Group, but this does not work with a Domain PC. Is a Home Group necessary?

Does the DMA need (unauthorized) access to shares and/or drive/folders on the MC PC?

Thanks
Flaxon
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2009   #6
mikinho
Microsoft MVP

6x W2K8 R2 (x64), 6x W7 7600 (x64), 2x Gentoo (x64), 1x Ubuntu 9.04 (x64), 1x pfSense (FreeBSD)
 
 

When a computer joins a domain some security settings are "tightened" that you'll need to make exceptions for. I don't remember what they are of the top of my head but I can look later today if you'd like.

Things to look for:

1- Any machine policies dealing with local accounts
2- Any machine policies that would create a window. The media center extenders connect via a special remote desktop connection that is designed to disconnect if any Window is created.

On my system I was able to turn on auditing and correlate an Event Log entry to the error.

No, Home Group is not necessary and other than the simplicity you will not gain anything. What is nice about Home Groups is that you can have a work laptop connected to your work domain but also connected to your Home Group for accessing your home network.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2009   #7
mikinho
Microsoft MVP

6x W2K8 R2 (x64), 6x W7 7600 (x64), 2x Gentoo (x64), 1x Ubuntu 9.04 (x64), 1x pfSense (FreeBSD)
 
 

I remembered the settings.

Allow logon through terminal services

Add "Remote Desktop Users" group to the allowed list. When you add a computer to a domain this group is removed. Without it MCX users can't use Remote Desktop.

Let me know if it works.

You'll need to add the group on your Domain Controller and force the setting (gpupdate /force). Depending on your setup you'll need to reboot for the changes to take effect.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2009   #8
Flaxon

Windows 7
 
 

Thank you for the quick answer. Unfortunatly, it does not solve my problem, But it sounds it can lead to the right direction.

What is a little strange: My MCE users that is created is only a member of the "Performance Monitor Users" group. The account itself is already added to the LOCAL policy "Allow logon through terminal services". I have no overriding domain GP for this setting.

I set the policy also to allow blank passwords for remote login - also without success.

It is a liitle late now here in Germany. I will investigate more tomorrow ...

Thanks
Flaxon
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Virtualized HTPC




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