Microsoft Hyper-V Takes a Giant Virtual Linux Leap Backwards

by Todd Ogasawara

One of the things that most impressed me about Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 (besides being free) was Microsoft's official support of various Linux distros as a Guest OS. I started testing Virtual Server after I found that the then current version of VMware ESX 2.5 could not run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 based distros (CentOS 4 in my case). Microsoft Virtual Server did and when the R2 release officially listed RHEL4 and SUSE Linux as supported Guest OSes, I was pretty happy. So, I when I read this headline on Network World, I was really puzzled.


Hyper-V Leaves Linux Out In The Cold


I headed over to this Microsoft web page to check things out for myself...

Supported Guest OS on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V

...and verified that the only supported Linux distro there is SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Service Pack 1. Now, to be fair, the list also does NOT include Microsoft's own Windows Server 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, or MS-DOS either. Hyper-V should at least include support for RHEL5 based distros, Ubuntu based distros, FreeBSD/OpenBSD, and Open Solaris.

However, this makes sense given that the current Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 does not really support the X11 that ships with RHEL5 and Ubuntu. I've been wondering why this is so hard since workstation based virtualization products like Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Workstation 6 work fine with the current Linux/X11 releases I've tried. I spent quite a while piecing together how to configure RHEL5 based distros to work under Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (see my blog entry linked below).

Red Hat 5/CentOS 5.1 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1

I hope this lack of support for major Linux/BSD distros is just something that will be corrected before Hyper-V is released in its complete 1.0 format. But, if not, it will be a huge disappointment to me having invested a number of years working with Microsoft Virtual Server and in the planning stages to migrate to Hyper-V.

Here's a detailed take on Microsoft's virtualization and interoperability direction from Michael Francisco written last August...

Linux and Windows Interoperability: On the Metal and On the Wire

One of the things Michael says in it is: First, customers are insisting on support for interoperable, heterogeneous solutions. To me "heterogeneous" needs to include more than just SUSE Linux from the *NIX ecosphere.

4 Comments

Pete
2008-04-25 11:32:47
I've just tested VHD from MVS 2005 R2 SP1 with Fedora Core 2 installed and put it on Win2k8 Srv with Hyper-V. I used legacy network adapter and it works fine. So I quite don't understand what this mess is all about.
Todd Ogasawara
2008-04-26 14:39:23
Pete:Fedora 2? Fedora 8 is the current release and Fedora 9 will be out in a couple of weeks. So, let's level set against current releases that people might be running in production environments. And, the key word here is production. Next, I'm talking about the issues that emerge with Hyper-V and not Virtual Server. The issue is that people running production Linux servers under Hyper-V might want to use some Linux distro other than Suse. Microsoft currently supports RHEL4 but not RHEL5 under Virtual Server and drops RHEL entirely under Hyper-V. If there is a problem with that combination under Hyper-V, a whole bunch of finger pointing can occur. This leaves people who want to virtualize their Linux distro with a couple of choices: Migrate to Suse or switch virtualization platforms (VMware, Xen, etc.). However, that is easier said than done if you have invested time, effort, and training for Virtual Server and had planned moving to Hyper-V. Try installing RHEL5 (CentOS 5), Fedora 8, or Ubuntu 8.04. None install using default settings. One needs to use custom kernel options to get them to install and run.
Mrvirtualization
2008-05-22 01:56:55
Hi,


OK, although Hyper-V support SUSE to perform well with Linux it has a lot more steps to do than you would expect. For that I am sharing with you a very good article which show a step by step of how to install SUSE Linux 10 on Hyper-V. They even went further showing how to install Linux Integration component & amend Xen kernel to the SUSE Virtual machine to reach the desired performance of Linux over Hyper-V. I though I will share my finding with everyone. The link to the article is:
http://www.itcomparison.com/blg/?p=11


I hope it will be helpful for all.
Enjoy,
MrVirtualization

Todd Ogasawara
2008-05-22 09:06:33
Mr. Virtualization: Thanks for the link to the tutorial article. I just wanted to clarify that the many many steps you refer to applies to installing SUSE with the paravirtualization kernel designed for use with Xen to get closer to raw-iron speed. But, yep, that is a lot steps..