Converting NT4 from Physical To Virtual

imageAt my second job we make a descent amount of money off of an application that runs on NT4 terminal server edition. Our customers are primary doctors offices who have no desire to change, The service runs great, and like I said, it makes a descent amount of money. The company has a new product that replaces the NT4 version, but most of the customers are happy with what they have., and don’t feel the need to change

Thus my dilemma, how do I make the NT4 stuff keep running without issue. Up until last week it was running on 10 year old hardware. Hardware that , based on PC lifespans,  should go at any minute. This was a constant feeling of doom in the back of my head. The software actually uses a pause loop to allow it to run slow enough on the Compaq servers because the 500MHZ processors were too fast. This made upgrading to new hardware a no go solution. I figured I would convert them to HyperV and place them on my HyperV clusters. I’ve spent over a year trying to make that happen. Finally, last month, I worked out how to convert them, and tested the process to the point we moved one of the servers over and we were completely successful. I tried a lot of different things over the year to make this process work. Below is the process that finally ended up working, and what I ran into along the way.

  1. I Used VMware-converter 3.0.1-44840 to convert the NT4 machines – I tried other versions and imagenone of them performed correctly with NT4. I tried a few different version sof HyperV converters and none of them worked correctly either – one of the key road blocks for HyperV was the need for the SCSI drivers in the WINPE boot disk.
    • One of the biggest road blocks for me was finding HAL.DLL and NTOSKRNL.EXE from the Windows NT4 Terminal Server edition Service pack 6 files. NT4 SP6 had a SP6 and a SP6A version due to an error in the first release. It also had an SP6 Terminal Server edition. Finding the right version was the hardest part for me. It was not simple work Finding a 10 year old Service pack. I worked at Microsoft at the time and I was not able to find the SP on the MS corporate network, no luck on the internets, and no luck on the local domain either.  A friend of friend finally came through for me with a CD he had in his basement from back in the day. You need the HAL and NTOSKRNL to convert the machine because the processors change a bit during the conversion. – This took months of looking
  2. Push Migrated to a network share – I tried to do pull conversions but they all failed with various errors. In the end I had to install VMware converter on the machine I wanted to convert and do a push conversation to a file share on another machine in the same domain. – This took numerous late nights of trial and error to work out the right version
  3. Mounted the Machines on a VMware-server 2.0.1 – This was pretty simple. Copy the server over and mount it. I tried to migrate the machines with SCVMM but that would not boot after migration. I tried to use VMDKconvert to convert them VMware machines to HyperV. In the end I gave up and left them on VMware. – I did not want to give up on HyperV so I spent months trying different methods
  4. imageInstalled the NIC driver – Installing the NIC driver proved to be another issue. The VMware tools elude in their documentation to having a driver, but it was missing from the tools ISO I had. Turns out they removed them in new versions so I had to download an old version of tools, mount the ISO and install them. The NIC driver I was after was the VMware Virtual Ethernet Adaptor I was able to download it from the VMWARE website.
  5. Final network card tweak – After installing the network card the machine still refused to connect to the network. I did some research and I was running into a bug with a work around. I had to take the server offline, add the line Ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet” to the SERVERNAME.VMX file, then bring the server back up. and BAM it all works now– By the time I got here I was working on this every night until I solved the issue

All said and done it only took me about 2 hours to covert the server once I had the process. Working out the process took me over a year of trial and error. In the end I can now say “I’ve converted NT4 Terminal Server edition server P2V to VMware virtual machines” and I can rest better at night knowing one of my core products is no longer on 10+ year old hardware. The entire servers are now backed up with DPM so I can restore the entire server if I ever have an issue. This is a huge weight off of my shoulders, and it’s a huge accomplishment for me.

UPDATE – here are the files you will need HalandNtoskml

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