Shrinking VirtualBox Disk Images

On my MacBook Pro with minimal disk size (250GB) I had to install VirtualBox in order to run any kind of Windows, for emergency cases. I was able to install Windows Server 2008 in a 20GB dynamically expanding virtual disk image (VDI).

A couple of months back I also made a clone of my HP NX9010 hard disk, a Seagate Momentus 80GB drive using the dd utility and attach it to the same virtual machine. I don’t have a lot of time at hand so this will enable me to selectively back up the files on that drive, when I have some free time. I use that old laptop to play videos for my child.

After some time, the Windows Server 2008 VDI grew up to 11GB and the Momentus VDI stayed at 74GB because dd was copying it bit by bit. I needed to free up more space. My target was the Momentus VDI because it’s huge and I have already deleted (backed up) a lot of files in it.

As their name suggest, they are dynamically expanding so they will not shrink themselves. In VMware, you can easily stumble upon the “shrink” button in the tool. In VirtualBox, we need to use the command line utility VBoxManage.

It’s as simple as:

VBoxManage modifyhd Seagate\ Momentus\ 80GB.vdi --compact

*VBoxManage is run on the host machine, while the virtual machine is powered off (not suspended).

Running it without any preparation work will shrink the VDI a bit, too insignificant to even notice.

And so I used SDelete to zero all the unused space on the VDI, and ran VBoxManage again. SDelete needs to be run inside the virtual machine while it’s running.

sdelete -c d:

I managed to get the 74GB VDI to shrink to 23GB. Now that’s a significant reduction in size.

Still, I was greedy. I wanted to know whether fragmentation has any effect on the shrink-ability of the VDI. So I went into the virtual machine, ran defrag, ran sdelete, then I executed VBoxManage to compact the VDI.

Below was my final result. From 74GB to 5.1GB I was fully satisfied. I was also able to shrink the 11GB VDI that contains the OS to 9.7GB.

If you have questions/suggestions/feedback, please leave a comment.

Free Windows Vista

Last month, there was a radio commercial on that promotes free upgrade to Windows Vista and I was fooled. Of course, it’s a commercial.

You get Windows Vista only if you buy a new PC with Windows XP now. For those currently using licensed Windows XP like me, you get nothing.

In fact, even now if you go and get yourself a new PC you’ll get Vista upgrade for free as stated here in Microsoft website. I am not sure whether this applies globally but I was brought to this page from Microsoft Malaysia.

I wonder if the final release is now available at Low Yat Plaza. I just want to take a look, nothing serious. I expect it to be more resource hungry and not suitable for my old hardware anyway.

Any of you have used Vista? Let me know of your opinion.

Under The Hood of Microsoft Windows

Process Explorer

For a Linux geek like me, I always feel so much restrained when using Windows, due to the fact that I can’t really get into the internals of the system especially that now I am using Windows on my 2 year old notebook after the storage catastrophe. It looks like hard disks don’t really like to stay with me that long; or is it my own fault for overusing them? Oh well.

While browsing through this post from the F-Secure blog, I found out that Microsoft has bought Sysinternals in July 2006. Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell must be millionaires now 😉

No wonder my friend who have just started today in F-Secure KL talked to me about the cool utilities. Now I know where he hangs out.

There are actually a bunch of tools, categorized into:

  • File and Disk Utilities
  • Networking
  • Processes & Threads
  • Security Utilities
  • System Information
  • Miscellaneous

I’ve actually tried only a few of the tools, which I chose based on my familiarity with the functions.

Continue reading Under The Hood of Microsoft Windows

Microsoft releases revamped Internet Explorer

More news related to Microsoft. The software giant has released Internet Explorer 7 Beta.

The beta version of Internet Explorer (IE) 7 is now available for download from the company’s website, However, users have been advised that the product should not yet be used in “mission-critical environments”.

Since when did I trust IE for my mission critical environments? LOL. Well I need IE to test my web apps as there are still so many people out there using it.

There has also been talk that Google, Micoroft’s arch-rival, which has links with Mozilla, the group behind Firefox, could also launch its own browsing software.

I heard Google bought/are buying Opera. However do not take my word for it as it’s a rumor I heard at the office. P.S. I didn’t make the typo above, it was copied from the original article. 😉

Hackers have also tended to target the Microsoft browser because it is still used by the majority of internet users and therefore gives access to the widest range of targets.

So… it’s hackers’ fault eh?

Microsoft said: “Internet Explorer 7 helps keep your information safe by alerting you to potential phishing sites – sites that look legitimate but actually are designed to capture your personal information.”

Hopefully this is true. I haven’t downloaded it yet as I am too lazy to boot up Windows… and the fact that I can’t find it on IE downloads. Is it available only in the US for now?


Read the original story here:,,9075-2019982,00.html

** I don’t hate Microsoft. They built a good Operating System and software. It’s just that it is 99.9999% impossible to remove spyware from and infected IE without reformatting the PC. Or is there? It has been a while since I used IE 🙁

Microsoft revamps blogging policy

Remember what happened to Chinese blogger Zhao Jing? His blog was closed down by Microsoft. Following that decision, many parties were outraged. So Microsoft decided to revamp its blogging policy.

News Story by Jeremy Kirk

JANUARY 31, 2006 (IDG NEWS SERVICE) – LISBON — In the face of outrage from many of its own employees over its abrupt censoring of a Chinese blogger, Microsoft Corp. has formulated a new policy to deal with requests from a government that alleges that posted material violates its laws.

From what I understand, this policy will be enforced if the government of the country reports something to Microsoft.

Microsoft is readying technology that will allow the blocking of blogs just within a specific country, Smith said. “We will act when we have the legal duty to do so,” he said. “We will act when we are given the kind of notice that clearly makes that duty binding upon us.”

Also, Google is now involved:

Google Inc. this week was planning to launch a new search service in China that censors some results considered inappropriate by the government. The service, however, will tell users some results have been blocked because of their politically sensitive nature.

I have no direct opinion on this. I think there are advantages and disadvantages of this decision (to bloggers, of course). Anyway I think (and hope it stays that way) that Microsoft can only block MSN Spaces, while Google can only block their Blogger service.

Original news:…

Maybe what these companies are doing is the right thing after all. Maybe China needs closure and protection from the outside world. Some people might say that freedom is the best choice for China, but of course most people are talking out of their asses. Look what happened to Iraq? They removed the military leader and now the country is in chaos. Or again, maybe not. We shall see what’ll happen next. Ooopps.. political 😉

Related news: Outrageous Outrage, Boycott Google Now, Google to launch censored results in China

Beijing’s New Enforcer: Microsoft

From the New York Times:

Microsoft has silenced a well-known blogger in China for committing journalism. At the Chinese government’s request, the company closed the blog of Zhao Jing on Dec. 30 after he criticized the government’s firing of editors at a progressive newspaper. Microsoft, which also acknowledges that its MSN Internet portal in China censors searches and blogs, is far from alone. Recently Yahoo admitted that it had helped China sentence a dissident to 10 years in prison by identifying him as the sender of a banned e-mail message.

Original news here:…

(As usual a copy of the original news is available when you click on more).

I hope Malaysian government will not see Microsoft as an Internet authority. But it is a scary thought, as only recently we can see Malaysians maximizing utilization of the Internet. (And some government officials still doesn’t know how to use e-mail or worst even scared to touch the mouse). I still remember 8 years ago when people only knows how to use mIRC and play games on their PCs. Well, probably still. I read somewhere that on X% of Malaysians have broadbands at their homes. YES!! Single digit. 🙁

Oh well, I can still remember some people being so amazed when I played MP3 on my notebook. Yes, there exists people like that even now, in the city of Kuala Lumpur.

Continue reading Beijing’s New Enforcer: Microsoft

Microsoft FAT Patent Upheld

theodp writes “After initially rejecting Microsoft’s File Allocation Table (FAT) patents, the USPTO has ruled them valid. From the article: ‘Microsoft has won a debate where they were the only party allowed to speak, in that the patent re-examination process bars the public from rebutting arguments made by Microsoft, said unimpressed Public Patent Foundation President Dan Ravicher.'”

Original post at /.:

If you think this will not have any effect on consumers, think again. FAT is used in almost all consumer electronics (yes, that’s your cellphones, pda, digital cameras). Yes, you wouldn’t have to pay Microsoft, but manufacturers will have to – the price will escalade to consumers, where else?


  • A license for removable solid state media manufacturers to preformat the media, such as compact flash memory cards, to the Microsoft FAT file system format, and to preload data onto such preformatted media using the Microsoft FAT file system format. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per manufacturer.
  • A license for manufacturers of certain consumer electronics devices. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit for each of the following types of devices that use removable solid state media to store data: portable digital still cameras; portable digital video cameras; portable digital still/video cameras; portable digital audio players; portable digital video players; portable digital audio/video players; multifunction printers; electronic photo frames; electronic musical instruments; and standard televisions. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per licensee. Pricing for other device types can be negotiated with Microsoft.

Ooops they did it again 🙁