Home > Hardware and Software, Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio 2008 > Altiris SVS… a better virtualization solution?

Altiris SVS… a better virtualization solution?

May 22, 2007

Well, apparently I’m behind the times.  After reading an article about Altiris SVS on Brian Di Croce’s blog,  I set out and found articles from all over—PC Magazine to it’s own online community called Juice.

The system is free for 120–days or free ongoing for personal use and, from my experience (we use Altiris for our computer management, inventory, and help desk at work) the company is reputable.

So, what makes this a better solution that using VMWare or Virtual PC and differencing disks?   

One word: “Deactivate”.

Rather than creating an array of virtual base installations with differencing disks for every permutation of installation environment, simply create a new “layer” and toggle them “active” or “inactive” using the control panel.

In my example, I needed a machine I could dink wth Orcas at home to test how various contracting sites would upgrade to 3.5 (and test out some of the new features in a more relaxed atmosphere than at work). 


  1. Create a new VM, install the base operating system, patches, etc.
  2. Install the SVS client (and get the personal license key). 

That’s it for the core operating system.  Now, on to the actual applications, let’s start with Visual Studio 2005.

  1. Create a new Application Layer and point it to VS 2005’s setup.exe.
  2. Run the installation as normal.

That’s it!  On completion, the installation will be wrapped up in a package and available for “activation” and “deactivation” in the control panel.  So, the next test: installing Orcas on top of it. 

There was one notable issue:  I had to manually install the .NET 3.5 Framework (pre-release) into the core operating system FIRST.  Besides that, installation was exactly like the VS2005, only creating a new layer named Orcas Beta 1.  I’m assuming, when I need to upgrade, I will simply upgrade the .NET 3.5 release and then create a new layer for the next iteration of Orcas (be that another Beta or Gold).

So, with a click of a mouse, I can now toggle between two completely different environments… within the same environment—without any apparent conflicts, library issues, or even one knowing of the other.  VERY cool. 

I haven’t tested using Vista as the host operating system yet, but I doubt there will be a problem.  I’d love to do some testing with activating different versions of web browsers, etc… maybe when I get some free time.

Finally, another cool aspect?  The packages are exportable and can be transfered… you can find a slew of pre-packaged software (open source, freeware, etc) at : http://www.svsdownloads.com/

 Now to just sell this at work… Hmmm!

Tags: virtualization, altiris, svs, visual studio

  1. GvanAs
    June 15, 2007 at 6:01 am

    Just remember that Visual Studio 2005 keeps a copy of the license key merged with the Hardware ID in the registry, so if you want to distribute the layer to other PC’s it won’t work…

    You can however use a workaround: http://juice.altiris.com/article/385/getting-an-imported-visual-studio-layer-to-work


  2. June 15, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Yeah, I read that article before I started, but haven’t given it a whirl yet. Moving machine-to-machine isn’t AS interesting for me since I just move the VPC around, but it’s a neat concept.

  3. Ian
    September 17, 2008 at 2:38 am


    What about visual studio 2008? I have heard that one cannot install a new layer for it with SVS 2.1 ….

    comment please.


  4. September 17, 2008 at 6:38 am


    Honestly, since VS2008 went gold, I haven’t tried it with SVS… at the time, I had too many moving parts in my VS installation to make it worthwhile. I just VM it.

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