Step 1 - Set VM Parameters
First select your Set VM Parameters:
- RAM Size:The amount of RAM on your computer allocated to the virtual machine. Ideally this value should match the amount of RAM that was installed on the machine from which you created your image, but clearly must be smaller than the amount of RAM on your machine running Live View.
- Operating System:This is the operating system contained on the disk image or physical disk you are trying to boot. Note that the Auto Detection feature only works for full disk images (not partitions). Live View is fairly forgiving about incorrectly identifying the OS so you may be able to get away with choosing any OS that is similar to the actual OS contained on the disk image.
- System Time:The is the date/time used by the system during boot time. Ideally, this should be set to the date/time at which the image was created to minimize the impact of potential time-trial or time-bomb software on the system.
Step 2 - Select Image or Device
If you would like to boot from a disk image file, click the Browse button to select the image of the machine from which you would like to boot:
- Make sure this is a bit-for-bit "raw" disk or partition image. If it is not, you may use a third party image mounting tool such as Mount Image Pro or Physical Disk Emulator to mount the image and boot it as a physical disk (see below).
- The image may be located on your local machine, an encrypted network share, or anywhere you can navigate to in a standard Windows "browse" dialog box.
- You may use "split" or "chunked" images by multi-selecting all of the chunks with CTRL+Click or SHIFT+Click in the browse dialog box. Some imaging programs split the image into chunks so they can easily fit on a CD, DVD, or FAT filesystem. Just make sure you select all of the associated chunks and that their file extensions are either numeric or alphabetical as Live View will order them by sorting their file extensions.
If, however, you would like to boot from a physical disk select the physical disk option
Select the device from which you would like to boot from the drop-down menu:
- The physical disk can be connected directly to the machine running Live View or connected via a USB or FireWire bridge. This bridge can also be a writeblocker (for an added layer of protection) as Live View only needs read access to the device. You may also use third party image mounting software to access an image as a physical disk.
- If you do not see your device in the drop-down menu, make sure it is connected to your machine. You may want to check that it has been recognized by Windows and shows up as a "drive letter" on your system. You may need to select the image file option and reselect the physical device option to re-populate the drop-down menu with the most current list of connected devices.
Step 3 - Select Output Directory
Next, select the output directory by clicking the browse button:
- The output directory is where all of the files representing the virtual machine will be placed. This includes the configuration files and the "overlay" file containing all of the changes that would have been made to the original disk or image.
- This directory could be on your local machine, network share, or anywhere you can navigate to from a standard Windows "browse" dialog box.
- The virtual machine grows in size as it is used (because all of the writes made to disk are saved in the "overlay" file in this directory). Initially you will require at least a few hundred megabytes of free space for the virtual machine but you may want to choose a directory with a few gigabytes of free space if you plan to make heavy use of the virtual machine.
Step 4 - Launch or Generate VM
Next choose what you would like to do with your image
- Launch My Image:By selecting this option, Live View will create the VMware virtual machine out of your disk image and launch it in VMware.
- Generate Config Only:By selecting this option, Live View will create the VMware virtual machine out of your disk image but will not automatically launch it in VMware. With this option you can simply navigate to your output directory selected in the previous step and double click the .vmx file With the same prefix as your image file to launch the virtual machine manually.
Step 5 - Click Start
Finally, click the start button and let Live View take care of the rest
- Launching an image typically takes under thirty seconds. The messages window will provide you with updates on its progress.
- The messages window will report any problems encountered during the process that may have prevented Live View from successfully creating your virtual machine.
- Clicking the clear button will clear the messages window.
You may get a "read only" message prompt
- If you attempt to create a virtual machine out of a raw disk image, Live View will automatically check if that file has the read-only flag set. If it does not, you will be asked whether or not you would like to set the file as read-only. Click yes to set the read-only flag on your image file(s) or click no to leave them alone.
- Note that setting the read-only flag on your file(s) is just an extra layer of protection against the accidental modification of your image file(s). Live View will not modify your images if you choose not to set the read-only flag. Also note that setting the read-only flag on your image file(s) will not modify their cryptographic hash.
You may also receive a "previous launch" message prompt
- If this is not the first time you have launched your disk image, you will receive a prompt asking you if you would like to either continue With the old virtual machine or start over by generating a new one.
- If you choose "continue", Live View will simply reuse the old virtual machine it generated. This virtual machine will contain all of the changes you have made (changed MAC times, installed software, etc) that were contained in the "overlay" file.
- If you choose "start over", Live View will delete the old virtual machine and generate a completely new one. This means that all of the changes you made to the machine will be wiped away and you will be booting the image or physical disk from its original pristine state (with a fresh, blank "overlay" file).
Interacting With the Virtual Machine
Now you can interact With the machine as you would any other. You can install software, insert CD's or USB keys, read/modify/create files, etc.
- To use the machine, you must click inside the VMware window to give it "focus." You mouse movements will be inside the virtual machine until you release it by using the keyboard combination CTRL+ALT.
- To make the machine full screen, use the keyboard combination: CTRL+ALT+ENTER. To go back to the smaller view, use the keyboard combination CTRL+ALT.
- To stop the virtual machine you may click the red square which is equivalent to pulling the power plug on a system.
- When you are done working With the machine, you can simply shut it down or hit the red square on the VMware GUI. To boot the machine back up again with all of the changes you have made, you can either navigate to your output directory and double click the .vmx file for your image or you can use the Live View GUI and select "continue" when prompted to start over or continue where you left off.
- If you want to remove all of your changes and start from scratch again, simply hit the red square to shut off the virtual machine and then close the VMware window. Go back to the Live View GUI and re-launch your image or disk. When prompted to "continue or start over", be sure to select "start over." This will boot the machine from its original unmodified state.
- The machine may go through a variety of hardware detection steps. This is because the system is recognizing all of the new hardware (VMware virtual hardware) present on the machine.
- For better performance (and higher resolution) you can install the VMware tools. To do this, click VM->Install VMware Tools on the VMware menu. This will require a reboot of the Virtual Machine but will provide much smoother performance once installed.