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

Downside of IT Certification


The Q1 2006 Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index, released April 25 by Foote Partners, a New Canaan, Conn., IT compensation and workforce management firm, found that pay premiums for non-certified IT skills grew three times faster than for certified ones in a six-month period spanning 2005-2006.…

The study suggests that there has been a change in employers’ acceptance of the value of non-certified tech skills versus certifications in maintaining competitive pay for their workers.

Click more for local copy of the full article (just in case the original is removed)
Continue reading Downside of IT Certification

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

HP Offers Notebooks Without Windows XP

I just bought a notebook today for my nephew. Well, helped in buying it as it’s his father’s money. It comes with FreeDOS. Cool. Now users can choose whether or not they want Microsoft® Windows® on their notebooks.

At first I was looking for Compaq Presario M2232, but it was already replaced with Compaq Presario M2241. The difference as I can tell was only the processor speed (1.6GHz vs. 1.73Ghz). For the same price, I was happy to get a higher clocked processor. Plus it’s new Centrino, with 802.11b/g (the Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection) – speed up to 54Mbps. 😀

The notebook specifications taken from HP:


Processor Intel® Pentium® M Processor 740 (#) supports Enhanced Intel® SpeedStep Technology (1.73GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 533MHz FSB)
Operating system FreeDOS
Standard memory 256MB (1 x 256MB) DDR SDRAM (333MHz)
Maximum memory Upgradeable to 2GB max (with discard)
System memory 256MB (1 x 256MB) DDR SDRAM (333MHz) upgradeable to 2GB
Cache 2MB Level-2 Cache
Hard drive 40GB (4200 rpm)
Optical drive DVD/CD-RW combo
Graphics Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 900 (up to 64MB Shared Memory)
Modem High speed 56K modem
Network Integrated 10/100 LAN Ethernet, integrated wireless LAN 802.11g
Battery 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery
Display 15" colour TFT XGA (1024 x 768 resolution)
Pointing device Touchpad pointing device with 4-way scroll
I/O interfaces (1) 6-in-1 Digital Media Reader slot, (1) IEEE 1394 port, (1) S-video port, (1) VGA port, (1) Notebook expansion port, (1) Headphone, (1) External Microphone, (1) AC power connector, (1) RJ-11, (1) RJ-45, (3) USB 2.0 ports
Security features Kensington MicroSaver lock slot
PC card slots (1) Type I/II PC Card Slot with support for 16-bit PCMCIA and 32-bit Cardbus
Status display System Power, NUM Lock, CAPS Lock, SCROLL Lock, Battery charging, HDD/Optical activity, Media slot, Mute, Wireless
Audio Altec Lansing branded speakers, AC97 audio, volume control and mute button
Keyboard 101-key compatible keyboard
Dimensions 3.81cm(H) x 36.32cm(W) x 28.45cm(D)
Weight 2.95kg – may vary, depending on configuration and components

At last, consumers have the power to choose what they want and don’t have to pay extra RM300.00 for the unwanted Operating System. This is a very good news especially for *NIX users. Way to go HP! I really hope that this same option is made by HP all over the world.

Too bad I bought mine with XP preinstalled. 🙁