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John Paul Cook

SQL Server 2008 Preconfigured Virtual Machine Mouse and Read-only problems

Microsoft is slowly shifting to virtual hard disk (vhd) files as a means of distributing CTP and beta software. This is great and quite convenient, but it does introduce new problems to deal with. Here are workarounds to common problems people are seeing when running preconfigured vhd files on Virtual PC.

First, there is the problem with the disappearing mouse cursor. This problem is an old problem people have been reporting for years. It isn't unique to Virtual PC. VMware users have reported the same problem. Historically, there have been several workarounds reported. There are two general categories of workarounds. You can change either video settings or mouse and cursor settings. I can't predict what workaround is best for you, so you'll have to experiment and see what works best for you.

The video workaround is quite simple. It does assume that the Virtual Machine Additions are already installed in the virtual machine. Microsoft supplies preconfigured virtual machines with the VM Additions already installed.

  1. Go to Display Properties or Display Settings property page and click the Advanced or Advanced Settings button.
  2. Select the Troubleshoot tab. If there is a Change settings button, click it.
  3. Change the Hardware acceleration to one tick mark less than Full. Some users report that mouse movement isn't as smooth after this workaround is implemented.

People have reported the disappearing mouse problem doesn't happen if the Virtual Machine Additions are not installed. Uninstalling the VM Additions is not an appropriate workaround. To understand why this VM Additions would make a difference in video behavior, it's because the VM Additions change the video driver. The VM Additions install an emulated S3 Trio video driver.

Many people prefer changing mouse behavior instead of reducing video hardware acceleration. There are several options people are using singly or in combination.

  1. Go to Control Panel and select Mouse.
  2. Select the Pointers tab. On the Scheme dropdown list, select one of the Windows Black schemes.
  3. Select the Pointer Options tab.
    a. Check Display pointer trails.
    b. Uncheck Hide pointer while typing.
  4. If you have an XP or 2003 Server guest, copy all of the cursor files in C:\Windows\Cursors from a Vista machine into your virtual machine. Because I cannot replicate the problem, I can't confirm that this workaround actually works.

Users who are running preconfigured vhd files on either Vista or 2008 Server are seeing error messages stating that the virtual machines are already in use or marked read-only [sic]. This is true even when logged on as Administrator. It is a permissions problem and is easily resolved by granting full control of the folders and files to the Users group. Keep in mind that in the Vista security model, running as Administrator doesn't mean that everything you do is done with full Administrator privileges, which is why you have to change permissions. Taking ownership of the files is another option, but it is not suitable if there are multiple users needing permissions to run the virtual machines.

External drives can present a permissions problem. You can follow the steps described here or take ownership of the entire drive or just the directory subtree of interest.

Published Sunday, April 20, 2008 4:11 PM by John Paul Cook

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Kalen Delaney said:

This is awesome... thanks John!


April 20, 2008 4:56 PM

BStateham said:


As you mentioned in the post, dropping the Hardware Accelleration sometimes affects the mouse negatively (clunky mouse movements over the virutal machine).

Paul Adare had posted a suggestion to the forums that has worked well for me, and that is to set the Pointer scheme on the mouse to "Windows Black (system scheme)" inside the virtual machine.

From inside the Virtual Machine:

1) Click Start

2) Click Control Panel

3) Click Mouse

4) Select the "Pointers" tab

5) Change the "Scheme" to "Windows Black (system scheme)".

6) Click OK.

Bret Stateham

September 30, 2009 5:29 PM

John Paul Cook said:

That's EXACTLY the same thing I suggested. Reread items 1 and 2 in my second set of suggestions numbered 1 - 4.

September 30, 2009 7:27 PM

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a database and Azure specialist in Houston. He previously worked as a Data Platform Solution Architect in Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse currently studying to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Connect on LinkedIn

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