Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Can I use F keys in a VM?

  1. #1


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player

    Can I use F keys in a VM?


    New to VMs so please bear with me.

    My Dell laptop does not allow me to boot direct from a USB, I have to hit F12 during startup then navigate to the USB in the boot menu.

    I've installed VMware player with W10 TP. I'm just wondering what would happen if I ever needed/wanted to boot direct from a USB. How can I emulate that hitting F12 during startup?

    If the answer is to point me to a newbie's guide to VM that's fine and will be much appreciated .

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  2. #2


    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64


    Well you could How to Boot a VMware Virtual Machine from a USB Drive but it is easier to boot from an ISO image or make a small virtual disk and boot from that.

    If you want to fix a windows VM just put the ISO in the virtual DVD drive same as you did when you installed it for example.
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  3. #3


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player


    Quote Originally Posted by adamf View Post
    Well you could How to Boot a VMware Virtual Machine from a USB Drive but it is easier to boot from an ISO image or make a small virtual disk and boot from that.

    If you want to fix a windows VM just put the ISO in the virtual DVD drive same as you did when you installed it for example.
    So maybe there is a better way than my first thought .

    But at the risk of showing just how little I know/understand , how would I boot from an ISO image? At present my only ISO image for the VM is on a usb stick (this is what I used for the install). Do I need to copy this to somewhere else in order to boot from it?

    I'm assuming I would only ever want to do this if I needed to repair the OS in some way.

    I have copied the OS on my VM (literally just made a copy of the file and put it on another hdd). If I keep this up to date, would it be just as easy to use this to create a new VM?
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  4. #4


    N. Calif
    Posts : 2,595
    W10 Pro (desktop), W10 (laptop), W10 Pro (tablet), W10 (laptop)


    Which VM software are you using?

    In VMWare Player, you would select the ISO like so:
    Click image for larger version

    In order to boot from the ISO, you need to be pretty quick. While the VM is booting, you need to quickly click your mouse in the VM window to get focus, then hit "F2" to get to the BIOS for the VM where you can select the boot order.
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  5. #5


    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64


    Assuming you have a file called Windows_version_12345.iso or something it doesn't matter where it is. It can be on a USB or your C: drive or on an external drive. When you want to boot from it (for example to repair windows) you go to your virtual CD drive in VMware settings and browse for the location of the image. Then make sure boot from (virtual) CD is first in boot order.

    There is a tutorial here How to change the boot order of guest VM on VMware Player - Xmodulo

    You'll only need your original install iso if you want to repair windows or do another clean install and (even if you lose it) you can always download another and use another copy.

    If you want to make a new VM based on the one you already have (rather than re-install everything) you can clone it as described here Clone option not visible in Vmware player - Stack Overflow

    Hope this helps
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  6. #6


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player


    Quote Originally Posted by strollin View Post
    Which VM software are you using?

    In VMWare Player, you would select the ISO like so:
    Click image for larger version

    In order to boot from the ISO, you need to be pretty quick. While the VM is booting, you need to quickly click your mouse in the VM window to get focus, then hit "F2" to get to the BIOS for the VM where you can select the boot order.
    I'm using VMware Player, only installed it a few days ago so the latest version I guess.

    I can see that getting into the BIOS for the VM definitely takes practice. Tried it a few times. I can see the 'Press F2' message appear on screen and keep pressing, but it isn't being recognised and I just end up booting into W10 as usual. Maybe need to try a couple more mouse clicks to ensure I'm in the VM.

    I'm a little confused how your screenshot fits in . Would I select the ISO (as in the screenshot) then [try to] reboot into the BIOS to use it? Or am I totally misunderstanding?

    I am beginning to wonder if just keeping an up to date copy of the VM file, then using that to create a new VM, would be the best option if I run into a problem though. Maybe I'm over-complicating things???

    But on similar lines: should I be able to do things like booting to advanced options (from within Windows) so I can then choose to boot from a usb when I'm using the VM?
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  7. #7


    N. Calif
    Posts : 2,595
    W10 Pro (desktop), W10 (laptop), W10 Pro (tablet), W10 (laptop)


    As shown on the screenshot, you can configure your VM's CDROM drive to be either a physical drive OR an ISO. So you would select the ISO as the CD, then go into the BIOS to change the boot order so that the CDROM is first in the boot order. If you don't change the boot order, the VM will always boot from it's VHD.

    You can leave the boot order with the CDROM as the first boot device and as long as you don't have a bootable CD in the host's physical CD drive nor have a bootable ISO image selected, the VM will boot from it's VHD. This may cause the VM to boot a little slower since it will first check to see if there's a bootable CD before it boots from the VHD but it will make it so that in the future if you need to boot from a CD or ISO you won;t need to change the boot order.

    Here's something from the link that Adamf posted that will help you if you aren't fast enough to press "F2" to get into the BIOS:

    If you cannot press <F2> button quickly enough to enter BIOS settings, add the following entry to the *.vmx file of the guest VM.

    bios.bootDelay = "<number_of_milliseconds>"

    This will delay POST procedure. Note that the unit of numbers is milliseconds. So if you want to delay POST screen by 5 seconds, it should be: bios.bootDelay = "5000". The maximum allowable boot delay is 10000 milliseconds or 10 seconds. With additional boot delay, you will have more time before booting, during which you can press <F2> key to enter the BIOS setup menu.
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  8. #8


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player


    Thank you @adamf and @strollin.

    Lots for me to think about there, and on first sight it all looks relatively straightforward.
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  9. #9


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player


    Okay, I think I've understood everything, but the inevitable couple of questions please:

    Firstly, where would I put the bios.bootDelay entry in the .vmx file (top, bottom, doesn't matter)??

    Secondly, exactly how do I type it? (It's a while since I did this sort of thing, and want to get it right)

    Here is an extract from my .vmx file:

    Click image for larger version

    It looks to me like each entry is enclosed by < >

    Do I type: <bios.bootDelay = "5000"> for a 5 second delay?

    Or something different?

    Thanks
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    N. Calif
    Posts : 2,595
    W10 Pro (desktop), W10 (laptop), W10 Pro (tablet), W10 (laptop)


    I believe you opened the .vmxf file for your VM, not the .vmx file.

    My .vmx file for a Win 10 VM looks like this:

    Code:
    .encoding = "windows-1252"
    bios.bootDelay = "5000"
    config.version = "8"
    virtualHW.version = "10"
    scsi0.present = "TRUE"
    scsi0.virtualDev = "lsisas1068"
    sata0.present = "TRUE"
    memsize = "4096"
    mem.hotadd = "TRUE"
    scsi0:0.present = "TRUE"
    scsi0:0.fileName = "Windows 10 TP x64.vmdk"
    You just type it in (or copy paste is even better) and you can put it anywhere. Don't use "<>" at all. As you can see, I added it as the 2nd line above.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Can I use F keys in a VM?
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