I am just writing down some random thoughts as we developed Phantom CD.


What else can be virtualized? VMWare and Virtual PC emulate the whole PC. There are many emulators for other hardware, especially older game systems. They take the whole system approach.


Virtual CD and DVD drivers, like Phantom CD and Alcohol, virtualize a hardware component – a CD and DVD drive in this case.


Actually, the oldest component virtualization is probably RAM disks. A lot of younger people may not even know what it is. It uses RAM to emulate a hard drive for fast speed, and it is commonly used 10 years ago. Today, with faster hard drive and better caching in the OS, nobody would bother using it.


However, with 64-bit OS and cheap RAM, will RAM disk come back? How about a 64-bit Vista PC with 16GB of RAM, and use 8GB for a RAM disk? It could be a dream developer’s workstation. The C++ compiler is I/O bound due to its extension file access with all the .h files.


Should we make it our next product?


Story of Phantom CD

May 19, 2008

If you are a Microsoft developer, you know how important MSDN is.


We have a wallet of few dozens of DVD’s, nicely organized by the categories, colors, and numbers. Occasionally, I even use it. However, that’s nowhere close to the full collection. The real treasure is online, in the subscriber download areas. It has all the stuff you ever want for development – OS, SDK, applications and beta.


And 99% of them are in ISO format. It is easy enough to burn a CD or DVD for installation – until one day, you run out of blank discs, and you have no idea which of those unlabeled CD-RW can be erased.


How lazy can we be? I have a pile of used discs. I am sure I have some Office and some Visual Studio installation discs there, but I don’t know which. I wait for the pile to grow, and eventually throw them away.


Without question, Alcohol is the number one in virtual CD. Unfortunately, it didn’t install on my system. There must be some kind of conflict because I had a lot of junks installed. Yes, there is a “Virtual CD Control Panel” for XP, but that’s unsupported software from Microsoft. I wasn’t comfortable with that.


So, Phantom CD started as a small project, for fun, and for our own convenience. Mount the ISO as a CD or DVD disc. You get faster speed, and don’t have a pile of wasted discs.