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Optimizing/Building Your Baseline Win XP Virtual PC Image

I am getting ready to check out all the neat tools in Scott Hanselman’s 2007 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows. It’s a nice and comprehensive list of tools that covers just about all the tools a developer or power user may ever need. There are quite a few tools I have not used before.

Since I don’t necessarily want to install all of these tools to my everyday Windows installation, I am preparing a baseline Virtual PC image to install these tools into. My experience with Windows has taught me to try to keep it as clean as possible.

I found a great guide to optimize your baseline Windows XP virtual image from Dan’s Archive. It took about 30 minutes for me to go through the guide to build my optimized XP image (that’s not counting the time needed to install Windows XP Pro). If anyone is listening out there, I think this would be a good candidate for another “tool”.

With by baseline image ready, now I can make a backup copy of it and install away!! I feel like a kid at Christmas. Notepad2, Notepad++, Lutz Reflector, SlickRun, FireBug, ZoomIt, WinSnap, CodeRush, Refactor, FolderShare… so many new toys to play with, so little time.

Virtual PC

Test Your Web Site in Internet Explorer 6 Using Microsoft IE6 Virtual Test Image

We all know that it’s a good idea to test our web pages in all popular browsers (to me that’s the various current versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox). It’s also a good idea to back up your data frequently, to listen to your elders, to not take a bath right after dinner, etc. Ok, so I admit I didn’t test my latest WordPress theme in IE6. While browsing the web on a friend’s PC, I discovered that my blog did not render correctly in IE6. It was broken in a major way. The right side bar completely disappears. Ouch!

I needed a way to test my site in Internet Explorer 6 at home, and since I have upgraded all of my PC’s at home to IE7, it seems like it’s a good time to give “virtual appliances” a try.

It took me about an hour to download the Internet Explorer 6 Application Compatibility VPC Image, install it, and have the virtual machine up and running. It helped that I already had Virtual Server installed. Yes Virtual Server works with Virtual PC disk images just fine. The current IE6 image expires on 4/1/2007 but I am sure Microsoft will replace it with another one when the time arrives. There is a blog entry on IEBlog about the image here.

Now I can reproduce the problem on my PC using IE6. That’s going to be the easy part I am afraid.


Update (2/8/2007): I fixed the IE6 problem. Apparently I had some sort of error in my sidebar.php file which messed up the HTML code, causing problems with IE6.

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