P6 VirtualBox Virtual Disk: P6 VM Scheduling Tutorial Part 2

This article is the second part in a P6 VirtualBox installation series. The purpose of this series is help schedulers setup P6 on a Virtual Machine. In previous articles I discussed why Virtual Machines and Primavera P6 are an Ideal combination, and how to install a Virtual Machine on you Windows System. Here are the links to those articles:

 

The Situation Thus Far

If you are reading this tutorial, you should have completed the previous tutorial VirtualBox Installation: P6 VM Scheduling Tutorial Part 1. You should have VirtualBox installed as well as the Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack. Now you are ready to create a Virtual Disk to create a virtual disk for your P6 VirtualBox VM.

Requirements for a P6 VirtualBox Install

For this tutorial am going to be using VirtualBox, because it’s freely available allowing us to get started up quicker. For this tutorial you’re going to need the following:

  • 3 hours minimum: 1.5 hours for the installation and set-up of VirtualBox. 1.5 hours for the installation of the Microsoft Windows client system. This does not include the installation of Primavera P6 and the P6 database
  • A basic understanding of how to navigate Microsoft Windows you will need this to download and install the program.
  • A PC with the Windows Operating System. This isn’t a hard requirement, but the directions I’ll be supplying will be for Windows.
  • 128 gigabytes of free hard drive space. This will be used to hold the entire virtual machine. This includes P6, Microsoft SQL Server, or Oracle’s SQL Server.
  • 8GB of RAM: The more RAM the better, but 8GB of system memory is enough.
  • VirtualBox Installed: This was done in the previous tutorial.
  • VirtualBox 5.1.8 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack Installed: This was done in the previous tutorial.
  • An Unused Microsoft Windows Licence and Install Media: You will need this to create a Windows Virtual Machine.
  • Know How to Install Primavera P6: This is not needed for this tutorial, but you will need to do this to get Primavera P6 up and running within the VM. If you need help doing this I will post a tutorial on how to do it shortly.

Warning:

This tutorial requires you download software off of the internet and install it. While this is a common everyday occurrence the process is not without risk. You should always make sure to completely and verifiable back-up your system before downloading and installing anything from the internet, and this tutorial is no the exception. Before actually perform Step 1 you should have read through all the steps in this tutorial first and have decided if this is for you. Once you are ready to start the installation process please close down all open programs. As a rule you should not be installing this on a production system if this is you first attempt.

Disclaimer:

You are following this tutorial at your own risk. I have no idea if this will work without issue. All I can say is that these are the steps that I took and it worked fine for me. That is no guarantee that this will work for you. Proceed at your own risk. As with the installation of any software you should be prepared for things to go wrong, and should have a full system back ready to go if any issues arise.


P6 VirtualBox Install: Setting up The Virtual Machine

Your first step is to open VirtualBox, once it’s opened you will greeted by the main VirtualBox Window (fig. 1).

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Opening VirtualBox
fig. 1 – After opening VirtualBox for the first time, you will see this window.

Click on the “New” button, and wait for the Create Virtual Machine Window (fig. 2) to open up. The first window in this dialog is the Name and operating system options dialog.

 

P6 VirtualBox Install: Name and Operating System

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Name & Operating System
fig. 2 – In this window you can name your virtual machine. I named mine “Scheduler”. You can also select the operating system type and version here.

The Name and operating system window presents you with three attributes you need to set:

  1. Name: This is the name you want to give the Client Machine. I have named it “Scheduler“. You can also press the “∨” to the right of the name filed. This allows you to change where the client system files will be created.
  2. Type: This is where you specify the operating system type. select “Microsoft Windows” from the drop-down menu. You’re doing this because Primavera P6 can only be installed on Windows.
  3. Version: This is where you select the Microsoft Windows Version you will be installing. I will be installing Windows 7 64-bit, so I select “Windows 7 (64-bit)” from the drop-down menu.

After you have named your client system, selected the operating system and version go ahead and click the “Next” button. This will bring up the Memory size options (fig. 3) dialog.

 

P6 VirtualBox Install: Memory Size

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Memory Size
fig. 3 – You can select how much of your system’s memory you want to dedicate to running your Primavera P6 virtual machine. Provided you have at least 8 Gigabytes of RAM (8192 MB) you should set this to 4 Gigabytes of RAM (4096 MB).

The Memory size dialog allows you to select how much of the host system’s memory you want set aside for the the client system. If you remember in the Requirements section above I stipulated that you need 8 Gigabytes of RAM (equivalent to 8192 MB). These memory requirements are high because of the way virtual machine host systems set up memory. A host system running a virtual machine basically divides its memory into 2 areas:

  1. The first area is the memory reserved for the host system.
  2. The second area is the memory reserved for the client system.

The system requirements for a standalone installation of Primavera P6 is 4GB of RAM. This means our client system needs to have at least 4GB of RAM allocated to it. Because 4GB of RAM is equivalent to 4096 MB of ram set the memory size to 4096. Click the “Next” button and proceed to Hard disk options.

 

P6 VirtualBox Install: Virtual Disk Setup

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Hard Disk
fig. 4 – Select the “Create a virtual hard disk now” option.

A virtual hard disk is one or more files that act as a hard drive for a virtual machine client system. This is one of the most important parts of you P6 VirtualBox install. This section of the article will walk you through setting up the virtual disk, starting with the Hard disk dialog. The Hard disk dialog (fig. 4) lets you choose whether you create the virtual disk now or use an existing hard disk file. Your going to need a lot more space than 25GB, so ignore the recommended size number. In my experience my a client system with P6, Microsoft SQL (or Oracle SQL), Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project hovers around 100GB of space. Since you are creating this client system from scratch, select “Create a virtual hard disk now”. Press the “Create” button and proceed to the Hard disk file type options.

 

 

Hard Disk File Type

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Hard Disk File Type
fig. 5 – This screen allows you to select the client systems hard disk file type. I am selecting VMDK because the smaller files are easier for me to manage.

The Hard disk file type dialog (fig. 5) lets you choose what file type the virtual disk will be stored as. The dialog presents you with 3 options:

  1. VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image): This is VirtualBox’s native disk format. It will store your virtual disk as one large file. Larger files may present problems for some users down the road.
  2. VHD (Virtual Hard Disk): This is another virtual hard disk format. Similarly the VDI format the virtual disk will be stored as one large file.
  3. VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk): This file format is native to VMware’s suite of virtual machine programs. The VMDK format has one advantage over VDI and VHD, it allows you to break the client system’s disk into smaller files, this can make moving the client system around for some users.

I would recommend using the VMDK file type. I like that VMDK format allows me to split the virtual disk into smaller files, making it easier to move and backup. Choose the file type you want to use, and click the “Next” button when you’re ready to proceed.

 

Storage on Physical Hard Disk

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Hard Disk Type
fig. 6 – This screen allows you to select the the client system hard disk type. In this image you can see the option to split the client system files, because I chose the VMDK file type.

In the Storage on physical hard disk dialog (fig. 6) you will select how the virtual disks space is allocated on the host system’s hard drive. If you selected the VMDK file type you will have the additional option of splitting the disk into files smaller than 2GB. There are two disk allocation options here:

  1. Dynamically allocated: A dynamic disk can grow until it hits the specified size limit, but it will start off very small. It’s smaller starting size makes it easier to move it and backup in the beginning. As the client system grows, it will take up more space, lowering its advantages over a fixed size disk. Dynamically allocated disks are typically slower than their fixed sized counterparts.
  2. Fixed size: A fixed size disk allocates its entire disk when it’s created. This means that once the virtual disk is created it takes up it’s full allocation of space. If you allocate 256GB of space to the client disk, once the disk is created it will take up 256GB of space. That means to back it up you must backup 256GB of files.

Because I chose the VMDK file type I will be splitting the disk into files smaller than 2GB each. As stated previously the 2GB file limit can make moving files around easier down the road. Select the options you want and click “Next” to proceed to the File location and size dialog.

 

File Location and Size

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Hard Disk Size
fig. 7 – This screen allows you to set the maximum client system hard disk size. You can also change where VirtualBox creates the client system disk here.

The File location and size dialog (fig. 7) allows you to select the location where the client files will be created and the maximum size of the disk. There are some things you need to consider before you proceed:

  • Host System Drive Space: How much space do you have free on your hard drive? You will need enough free space on you system hard drive to contain the client system.
  • Client System Drive Requirements: How much space will your client system need? This varies based on an individual user’s needs. I have 128GB set aside for the client system I use daily, but I would recommend 256GB for a first time user.

You can specify where VirtualBox creates the virtual disk files. More than likely you should set the drive size to 256GB. Make sure you have enough space for the virtual disk before you create it. When you’re ready click “Create” and VirtualBox will create the client system’s virtual disk.

 

P6 VirtualBox Install: Client System Disk Creation

Once VirtualBox has all the information it needs to know about your client disk it will create your virtual disk (fig. 8). Depending on what you selected this could take a couple of seconds (dynamic allocation), or an hour or two (fixed size).

Windows P6 VirtualBox Install Hard Disk Creation
fig. 8 – This screen displays the progress of the client system’s disk creation.

 

A Good Place to Stop

Here is a good place for us to take a break. At this point your P6 VirtualBox install has a virtual disk, and it’s now ready for us to install Windows on it. I’ve posted a follow up article for installing Microsoft Windows. A link to that article can be found here. Please post in the comments if you have any questions.

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