Quote Originally Posted by berndgsflinux View Post

we have a difficult scenario. We have an expensive software (> 10.000 ) running on a Windows XP host.
Hi Bernd,

Running old software on new hardware can often be challenging. The first step is to verify all assumptions.

When you say,
It does not run on a more recent windows.
Do you mean that it is not supported on more recent Windows or have you actually tried to install it, for example, on Windows 7 using compatibility mode?

Windows XP is still allowed in our institution, but you have no network with it.
Windows XP has lots of vulnerabilities. That policy is to protect the network should the computer become infected.

Now the harddisk of that pc broke, and i can't fix it. Too many bad sectors.
That means i have to reinstall XP and this dedicated software on an old pc, because XP does not support hardware from modern pc's.
You can still find new components that are compatible with old software. You may even be able to find an "old" PC that is unused and still in the manufacturer's original box. Try eBay!

Additionally there have to be several handhelds connected to that pc. These handhelds are for monitoring animal experiments and collecting data, and are connected to the pc via usb.
That should not be an issue.

Having no network on that pc because of xp, it's not possible to store the important raw data from these handhelds on a redundant file server, but just on a poor desktop hd. I could scratch some data from the broken hd with knoppix and dd_rescue, but not all.
You should never use "a poor desktop hd" for important data. See what happened with your current system?
At a bare minimum, you should use Enterprise class hard drives or, today, even SSDs. You should use RAID to protect against a drive failure.

Additionally the software needs a dongle, which is connected to the pc via a parallel interface.
This could be an issue in a virtual environment.

My idea is to create a vm for that system. Then i don't have to use old hardware.
That's a good idea but can your application run in a virtual environment?

I'd like to use SLES with KVM. Is it possible to use the dongle in that scenario ?
I don't know. Even if all the bits are in place, that doesn't mean the the propitiatory software that will access the dongle can do so.

Can i passthrough a parallel interface to the guest ?
Again, I don't know. "PCI" passthrough is supported, with restrictions. You might be able to use a USB to Parallel adapter but often dongles won't work when attached via an adapter. You would have to try it.

How good are my chances that the handhelds are connected properly to the guest ?
I would think there is a good chance but, again, you would have to try it.

Is it possible to have s.th. like shared folders ? Then i would connect the shared folder on the host side to our fileserver (mount via cifs),
so that from the guest i can store the data from the handhelds to an appropriate location.
Something like that should be possible but then your Windows XP system would no longer be isolated from your local network. You should first verify that such a configuration would be permitted.

Thanks for any help.

While what you are suggesting may work you still need to verify that it does. IMO, you are better off running on a better quality stand alone workstation with redundant hard drives.