Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Discussions about using Windows guests in VirtualBox.

Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby oao » 30. Nov 2009, 23:28

And I forgot to ask: where are the 2 WPA files stored when XP is installed in a VM?
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby Sasquatch » 30. Nov 2009, 23:30

Google?
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby oao » 30. Nov 2009, 23:49

Sorry, I don't understand.

I searched through all my hard drive and I found only the 2 files pertaining to the host Windows. There seems to be no such files for the VM.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mpack » 1. Dec 2009, 09:53

oao wrote:I searched through all my hard drive and I found only the 2 files pertaining to the host Windows. There seems to be no such files for the VM.

It is pointless to search through your host drives for files pertaining to a guest operating system! You will find them inside the guest of course.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby oao » 1. Dec 2009, 10:50

by hard drive I meant the VDI, of course. not the host. I should have been clearer.

I found the files -- I made a mistake in the search.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby JEGERT » 7. Dec 2009, 19:10

I was working on activation for Win7 this past weekend and found some helpful notes for anyone new to VBox
First off, if you change even one character in the machine UUID, reactivation occurs but the hard disk UUID did not matter (thanks Sasquatch and mpack)

If you want to save off a Win 7 activated environment, follow these steps (do not use the Export Appliances)
1) Backup the VDI file by just copying it or use CloneVDI and make sure to use "Keep old UUID" (you're the best mpack! This tool works great)
2) copy the machine's XML file and keep it with the VDI/VHD (C:\Users\Administrator\.VirtualBox\Machines\Win7\Win7.xml where Administrator is the user you are logged in with and Win7 is the VBox name)
You should have the VDI/VHD file and XML now (2 files)

Now to restore a Win 7 environment, here goes:
1) Create a new VBox machine entry from scratch including the HardDisk (does not matter what the settings are here since the XML file will overlay it anyway)
2) Copy the backed up XML file to the new VBox machine's directory (i.e. C:\Users\Administrator\.VirtualBox\Machines\NewWin7\NewWin7.xml) and overwrite the one already there (NOTE: You need to close VirtualBox as it will probably have this file opened)
3) Copy the VDI/VHD file and overlay the one you created in step 1. The reason I do this is because if you import the VDI, it WILL change the UUID on the hard disk
4) Edit the VBox XML file and change the Machine UUID and hard disk UUID to match the file in step 2 above (i.e. C:\Users\Administrator\.VirtualBox\VirtualBox.XML). Make sure there are no duplicates or VBox will crash on COM registration!

Now run the VBox machine and you should not be asked to reactivate the OS

Thanks everyone!
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby ChristopheL » 8. Mar 2010, 19:01

great info !
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby abject » 7. May 2010, 01:52

Thanks, JEGERT.

A couple of things you'll want to do before you start:
[*] Get rid of any Shared Folders attached to the guest
[*] Make sure all removable drives (CD/DVD and Floppy) are empty.

Otherwise, your new/old VM won't start when it gets to its new home.

If you get this advice too late (as I did :? ), use the XML file from the "dummy" VM you created on the new host to figure out what to replace for the VM you're bringing over.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby Sasquatch » 19. May 2010, 22:50

First off, the disk UUID does NOT change when you import it. It's written in the VDI file and only a "VBoxManage internalcommands sethduuid <vdi file>" will change it (or using the cloneVDI tool from mpack).
Second, the HD UUID does NOT trigger an activation, only the VM UUID. So all you have to do, is keep that UUID near the W7 VDI. You can even give a different machine UUID than it's own UUID to the VM OS. See the manual for more information on that (VBoxManage modifyvm [--hardwareuuid <uuid>]). This means that you can still clone your W7 VM, get a new VM UUID, but let it send the original UUID to the OS.
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See the Tutorials and FAQ section at the top of the Forum for more guides.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby rsriram22 » 22. Jun 2010, 21:12

I am assuming that this holds true for Windows Server 2008 SP2 as well (ability to boot the VM from different laptops[say] and not get the "activation" thingy kick in)
Anyone tried it on 2008 Server (SP2 or R2)?

..I will be testing the question I asked in the next couple of days and will update this post with my findings.. Just curious to know before I do my testing..

Tks

Sasquatch wrote:I will start with a few answers that I found with Windows 7.

What VirtualBox VM settings can (if changed) trigger a reactivation message?

With W7, you can change the MAC address and HD UUID (the UUID of the virtual hard drive file) and the CPU ID (boot the VM on a different computer, or replace your CPU) without triggering the reactivation. I have not looked at other options, like I/O APIC, PAE, SMP and all that. I don't have Hardware-V hardware, so I can't test those settings.
....
<snip>
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Activation - Technical and Legal issues

Postby Erik_FL » 17. Jul 2010, 18:26

You can find a number of online articles that describe exactly what information is tested to determine if activation is required. It's based on a voting system with the (first detected) network adapter type and MAC address having the most votes. Changing the type of network adapter or MAC address is likely to require activation if other hardware changes have been made.

It is not (in my opinion) illegal to disable activation. There are a number of hacks available to do that. Disabling activation or activating Windows normally does not make any version of Windows legal to run in VirtualBox. The End User License Agreement is the final word on what is legal or illegal, and some parts might be subject to legal interpretation. Although Windows activation may give you a 30-day or three-day "grace period" that does not mean running Windows during that time is legal. I figure that there are a lot of people violating the EULA without even realizing it. What actually matters legally are your motives (are you trying to be legal) and whether Microsoft decides to make a case of it. What matters from a functional standpoint is if you can make Windows activation "happy" long enough to get the job done. There is plenty of legal gray area, but the technical details of Activation are at least partly available to help determine what changes might affect Activation.

The top three things for me have been these.

- First (detected) network adapter type
- First (detected) network adapter MAC address
- Boot hard disk serial number (in the MBR)

On some actual laptops I've seen where disabling or removing the wireless network adapter makes Windows require Activation. That's because Activation is based on the first detected network adapter. If that happens to be a plug in card or wireless adapter rather than the wired or on-board adapter then the removable adapter becomes the most important hardware for Activation. Activation can suddenly be required if you make a major change (network adapter) and then later only make a minor change (disk serial number or RAM size). That's because of the voting system used for activation. If you make enough minor changes Activation may still be required even when you don't change the network adapter type or MAC. You can read the articles on Activation voting but they aren't very useful unless you apply them on a case-by-case basis to your actual situation. Changing the first network adapter type or MAC address in VirtualBox is the most likely thing to require Activation. Obviously moving from a "real" computer to a VirtualBox environment changes the network adapter and MAC as well as other hardware.

If you Activate Windows in VirtualBox it is a good idea to avoid changing the type or order of network adapters. What adapter Windows considers the "first" adapter may change and that may not work in the way that you expect. For example, on one system I changed the MAC for the second network adapter (in VirtualBox) but Windows required Activation because Windows had detected that adapter first. If you make frequent changes to network adapters then you may have to resort to one of the activation hacks to avoid continually Activating Windows. I'm no legal expert, so it is unclear to me if activation hacks actually violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Since Activation is neither encryption nor copy prevention I am unsure about how DMCA applies to Windows Activation hacks.

These are my own personal opinions, and I am not suggesting that anyone violate the End User License Agreement, nor use Activation hacks. Consult your own legal adviser and Microsoft to determine the legal requirements of your specific situation.
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Re: Activation - Technical and Legal issues

Postby mpack » 17. Jul 2010, 19:02

Erik_FL wrote:I'm no legal expert, so it is unclear to me if activation hacks actually violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

I take no position on any of your legal arguments, I would merely remind you that US laws (e.g. the DMCA) are only relevant within US borders. Many people reading your message are located elsewhere. Copyright laws in one form or another do of course apply in most parts of the world.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby bggfalco » 19. Jul 2010, 21:09

How about using one of those little applications easy to find online to remove some wga files so you are not bugged but dont make you installation unvalidated? I used one some time ago. Windows xp kept requesting re-activation once in a while without any significant hardware changes(perhaps due to mac changes associated with memory changes and the voting system, as sugested by a previous post). Didnt get the react request again, and the program distributers claim its not illegal.

What about the theory that Mr. Bill hacks into peoples computers and turns on their cameras to check if its someone else and due to age related memory problems fails to recognize you and activates the re-act system just in case to avoid unprofitable missuse of his masterpiece?
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby Sasquatch » 19. Jul 2010, 23:07

bggfalco wrote:How about using one of those little applications easy to find online to remove some wga files so you are not bugged but dont make you installation unvalidated? I used one some time ago. Windows xp kept requesting re-activation once in a while without any significant hardware changes(perhaps due to mac changes associated with memory changes and the voting system, as sugested by a previous post). Didnt get the react request again, and the program distributers claim its not illegal.

We're not here to talk about ways to work around the whole WGA thing. What you're describing sounds like just that. Please don't discuss that here.

What about the theory that Mr. Bill hacks into peoples computers and turns on their cameras to check if its someone else and due to age related memory problems fails to recognize you and activates the re-act system just in case to avoid unprofitable missuse of his masterpiece?

Nah, that's not Bill's way, that's more a thing for Steve to do. He puts webcams in every device his company makes, just to look at you while you sleep :twisted:.
Read the Forum Posting Guide before opening a topic.
VirtualBox FAQ: Check this before asking questions.
Online User Manual: A must read if you want to know what we're talking about.
Howto: Install Linux Guest Additions
Howto: Use Shared Folders on Linux Guest
See the Tutorials and FAQ section at the top of the Forum for more guides.
Try searching the forums first with Google and add the site filter for this forum.
E.g. install guest additions site:forums.virtualbox.org

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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby rayH » 27. Aug 2010, 09:07

With WinXP OEM Dell, I found that removing any of:

IDE controller
Floppy Controller
IDE CD/DVD device

triggered reactivation. However adding a SATA controller did not.
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