For more years than I can remember, I have been using Oracle Virtual Box to run Linux and a test Windows machine within my Windows 10 desktop. It has worked fairly great and over the years I have accumulated a number of programs and files on my Windows 7 "lab" machine.
It has been a great tool to be able to test changes (like group policies) to the domain without having to leave my desk to log in to another machine or worse yet, log out of my machine and log back in to see if the changes did what I expected them to.
It is safe to say I have become pretty dependent on my virtual boxes, they stay open and running all the time.
The other day, I remembered something I had read about called Windows Sandbox. Basically, it is a virtual environment you run right inside of Windows to test programs for malicious code and other things like that.
I wanted to check it out to see what it was like, so I went to the "Turn Windows Features On or Off" section of Windows 10, so I could enable it.
One small problem...
Apparently I was still running Windows 10 release 1803 and Sandbox is available unless you are running at least 1903 Pro or something like that. Knowing that the most recent version of Windows 10 is 2004, I decided to give it a whirl and spent the better part of an afternoon updating my desktop.
Even with a fast connection and a fast computer it took several hours to get fully updated to version 2004.
This time when I went into the "Turn Windows features on or off" screen, Windows Sandbox was available as an option to turn enable. I also had to enable Hyper-V and Windows Hypervisor Platform. Also Virtual Machine Platform I think.
I restarted the computer once again after enabling those features and before long I was playing around with Windows Sandbox.
I had been hoping that Sandbox would allow you to "save states" so that you could have a working desktop kind of like Virtual Machine. That isn't possible and so I decided that Sandbox would not be a good replacement for Virtual Machine.
I went back to Oracle Virtual Box and tried to boot up my Windows 7 machine. No joy. It would act like it was booting and then it would just sit there and never load to the login screen.
I thought okay, I updated Windows to version 2004, maybe there is an updated version of Virtual Box I need. I updated Virtual Box to version 6.1 which was newer than what I had been running, but my machine still would not load.
Deciding that my image must be corrupt I started looking into Linux distributions to install on Virtual Box instead. I was still able to access the files on my Windows 7 VM via 7-Zip, so I wasn't too heart broken about having to start over.
First I tried Ubuntu and I kept getting an error when I tried to install it. I thought maybe I had a bad download, so I downloaded it again and tried a couple more times. Again, no joy.
I decided to try a different distribution, so I downloaded Mint Linux and tried to install that. Again, I got an error while trying to install. It was a different error, but it still kept things from loading properly.
Knowing Mint was just a different distro of Ubuntu, I decided to try Arch Linux which is based on Red Hat I think. Once again, I was stopped by an error, different, but still severe enough to keep the OS from installing.
I even tried pointing the image to a different hard drive in my computer thinking maybe it was trying to write to a bad sector on the one hard drive. Finally, I did the first thing I usually tell my end users to do and I restarted my machine. Still. No. Joy....
Finally, by some miracle, I found an article online that was talking about the different kinds of virtual machines. Apparently, Microsoft Hyper Visor is considered a level 1 virtual environment, and third party programs like Virtual Box are considered level 2 virtual environments.
The end result being, if you have enabled the level 1 Hypervisor environment, you can no longer run any of the level 2 stuff.
That was it, I had finally figured out why I couldn't get anything to install or run on my Virtual Box.
It was all because of my desire to try out Sandbox that I found myself in this predicament. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I decided to give Hyper Visor a go. Check back on a future post for my thoughts...