Sunday, May 3, 2009

How do I access an ISO on a physical drive from the “CD” drive of my virtual PC?

Update: Turns out I took the long way to get this working... You can achieve this much more simply by merely using the "Capture ISO" option under CD in Virtual PC's menu. I had misinterpreted "Capture ISO" to mean create an ISO of the virtual drive you were leveraging. It turns out it means to treat a pre-existing ISO as a CD in the drive of your guest vpc.

If you just like reading second-best practices, by all means, enjoy the original post...

Take care,


If you are reading this at all, I have to assume you have a good sense of what we’re talking about here, and hopefully some interest as well.

For some reason, I have forgotten this fact twice in the last 48 hours, so I am making a note here, so at least I can easily find the answer if I find myself in this same problem again in the future. You don’t build VPCs every day (at least, you don’t if you’re me), so it’s fairly easy to forget details like this. At least, thinking that helps me sleep at night.

Photo by J. David PincusSo, the situation is, you’re trying to build a VPC, and, in my case, you’ve gotten Windows 2003 Standard installed, and now you want to set the server’s role to Application Server, and install IIS and all the related components.

You’re using an ISO, not a physical CD/DVD, so you need to make sure your virtual PC can access the ISO on your host system through the CD drive on the virtual PC.

What you do is:

1) Mount the ISO to a drive letter on your host machine. (Using a tool like VCdControlTool.exe)

2) Make sure your VirtualPC’s CD/DVD Drive setting is set to Secondary controller (if these steps fail, you might try changing this to Primary Controller, but secondary seems to work for me).

3) In the Virtual PC menu that wraps around your view of the VPC itself, click on CD, and then choose “Physical Drive: Z” or whatever drive letter you used on your host when you mounted the ISO.

4) At this point, you should be able to access the content in the ISO just as if you had placed a physical CD into a physical drive on a physical machine. Except that it’s a virtual image of a CD installed on a virtual drive on a physical machine accessed by a virtual PC through a virtual CD/DVD drive.

I’m glad we got that straightened out! ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha! It was just called to my attention that the steps I described in this post are the long way around! It turns out that in VirtualPC you can simply check the CD menu option and pick "Capture ISO image" to mount the ISO directly without any mapped drive on the host, etc.


    I was misinterpreting the phrase "Capture ISO image" as an option for CREATING an ISO, not mount one.


    Oh, well. This is why colleagues are a good thing to have. :-) Thanks, Bryan.


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