Triple Boot Test System with Backup Image

Hey Everybody!

So, I don’t know if this is an Eggplant question as much as a general QA question about best practices that would allow the proper use of Eggplant.

I’ve never found the best way (if there is one) to create a single test SUT that will triple boot into Vista, XP, and 2000. Then that entire machine needs to be imaged so it can be restored at will.

I’ve had some success but not complete success. I’m wondering if the best practice is simply to have 3 machines. One for each configuration.

Thanks for any advice!

I typically have 3 machines. Although with the multiple flavors of Vista, I’m still thinking through how I’m tackling it.

However, you could use something like Parallels ( and an Intel Mac and run them as you need them. (You can make copies of OS’ pretty easy as well)

We also use Acronis here some, but it sometimes messes with the Master Boot Record.

Exactly! I use Acronis and have to repair the NTDLR all the time… grrrrr… thinking of going to Norton ghost… old and ugly but reliable.

Hmmm so I guess you could VNC into a Parallels machine running on the same mac your using to run Eggplant?

VNC’ing into Parallels works well. You have to turn off Clipboard Sync and Mouse Sync.

Simply have a boot manager that will allow you to select a partition to boot from. Windows installation is notoriously strong in overwriting things like the MBR on the HD, and at times clobbering the MBR to the point where it can’t be used for boot purposes. I have heard folks doing things like seperate installations on seperate drives, then mirroring them over to the target drive (whatever partition you desire), and also paying attention the installation sequence, one windows installation may be more prone to munge the entire installation (read MBR damaged or such).

Here are some links from googling…

and finally to answer best practice on this one… Its a good question. The goal is to make reimaging easy, so you can quickly refresh/mirror at the end of each test cycle or sequence. If you are limited to hardware, and can’t afford or justify the 3 systems or VMs in question, you then may want to just do a triple OS installation on a multiple partitioned drive and call it good. One problem with this approach is that you can’t fire off another test sequence while the drive mirroring/refresh is going on. So, my gut feeling is either to do the following:

Scenario 1:
3 drive system, with 3 OS install one per…

Scenario 2:
1 drive system (large, 200-300 gig maybe), 3+ partitions, 3 OS install.

Scenario 3:
Multi Host SUTs, each with 1 drive each…

Scenario 4:
Virtual Machine with VMWare or Citrix and state save/mirror and be done with all this about drives, systems and hardware :slight_smile:

My desire is to pick #4, for obvious reasons. The pros and cons you can figure out and have to fit into your environment. Remember, snapshots are not instant and are not free. They take time just like anything else to come up to speed/run. They are great for a lot of reasons, but take drive space too, and versioning can be very costly in this realm (depending on your SUT configuration requirements).

There is a lot to think about, and you can try some of these things out in pre production with VMWare and Citrix, and Parallels if you want to run the Windows stuff on Intel hardware (which a lot of people do with XServers).

Let us know what you find out, and think is going to meet your particular needs, of which surely its a moving target and changes daily. Other’s input here is very welcome, and I hope more people start sharing their VM solutions, what works and doesn’t (maybe a new topic would be in order for the forums).

“You have to turn off Clipboard Sync and Mouse Sync.”

I think I found this but not exactly sure… is this option in VNC Server on the Parallels XP Machine? Under…

Accept Pointer Events
Accept Clipboard Updates
Send Clipboard Updates


Got to the Parallels Tools (which is installed for you during Windows XP SP 2 [maybe others]) and the first configuration option item is Clipboard Sync. Disable this, it is required otherwise a sync loop condition will occur and clipboard data will get borked by both the Parallels and Windows system trying to do the right thing and ‘correcting’ the clipboard. Its sadly funny to watch actually, as more and more return/linefeeds are added each time you paste on the mac side :slight_smile: Make sure to turn this off, disable it.

BTW, Redstone has a series of training, Eggplant 101 and SenseTalk 101 going on next week in Austin. Talk to our wonderful sales folks for details and logistics. Its a great time to get fully up to speed with the new software as well as refresh and learn some neat tricks of the trade from the SenseTalk inventor himself, Doug Simons.

Great… For some reason I thought you guys were in Colorado. I’m going to be in Aspen for 10 days at my clients soooo… I’m going to miss the training!


Yes, I understand the irony of this. We are generally located in staff in Colorado, however our International Corp offices are in Austin along with our Training Center. We will likely be offering classes in Colorado this year or early next to meet the growing needs in that area. And we are having our new offices in Colorado tweeked as we speak so by year end we hope to have them fully occupied and transitioned. Growth is great, comes with it time to handle the inevitable ‘pains’ that come along with fast yet responsible growth.

Some windows machines have the ability to select a booting drive, this is much handier then it may first appear, another option to consider is going scsi…A high quality scsi controller can also specify a booting drive and allow you to pretty much forget about managers, let the system do the talking.

As a recent attendee of Eggplant 101 and senstalk classes, let it be said that even the seasoned can learn a thing or two, and the things learned more then pay the cost of the class in increased productivity.

Yes, and SCSI drives are still about the best quality around, although Serial ATA has come a long way from PATA days. And a good SCSI RAID controller will allow you to even partition the multiple drives into virtual partitions, of which these are almost bomb proof if you go with RAID 5 stripped or even a mirrored redundant RAID pairing of cabinets. The choices are amazing, and if you looking into it you will find that in the end usually what you get is what you pay for and can expect.

Thanks for the comments on the classes :slight_smile: We try very hard to make them an amazingly good value and continue to expand our offerings in software and services/support.