Has the Microsoft-Novell SUSE Certificates Affected Linux Virtualization Support?

by Todd Ogasawara

Microsoft paid Novell $240 million in 2006 in what they call subscription fees as part of an agreement for technology sharing and to not sue each others customers for alleged intellectual property (IP) infringements. The payment was not made in total, however. Instead Microsoft pays subscription fees for its customers to use and get support from Novell for SUSE Linux. This week, Microsoft and Novell announced another $100 million will be paid for certificates starting on November 1.

I noticed one of the side-effects of this agreement after the 2006 subscription fee contract was announced. Prior to that Microsoft had recently announced supporting Red Hat, SUSE, and one or two other Linux/BSD distros under Virtual PC and Virtual Server. The Virtual PC and Virtual Serve versions after the 2006 contract dropped support for all *NIXes except SUSE. And, it turned out that installing distros such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 or Ubuntu 7 required jumping through hoops that included modifying Linux kernel boot options. Microsoft has not, to my knowledge, addressed this issue over the years. There is no reason current Linux releases should not easily install under Virtual PC or Virtual Server. Other virtualization hypervisors I've tried installed various Linux distros without a fuss. I've tried VirtualBox, Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMware Fusion for Mac, and VMware Workstation 6.

I should note that I have not tried Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V because I've never had a spare 64-bit server (or PC) to use for testing. If anyone would like to comment on installing something like RHEL5 or Ubuntu 8 as a Guest OS under Hyper-V, I would be interested to hear about that experience.