Linux PenguinMicrosoft has been taking tremendous steps to prove that Hyper-V is not simply the best hypervisor for Windows users and administrators, it is also a viable option if you have Linux servers as well.  Last week Microsoft released the Linux Integration Services v3.4 for Hyper-V.  Integration Services are the tools that you need to get the full functionality of your hardware within a guest OS, including the drivers that enable synthetic device support in (supported) Linux virtual machines under Hyper-V.

Here is the overview of what is included:

When installed in a supported Linux virtual machine running on Hyper-V, the Linux Integration Components provide. Driver support: Linux Integration Services supports the network controller and the IDE and SCSI storage controllers that were developed specifically for Hyper-V. Fastpath Boot Support for Hyper-V: Boot devices now take advantage of the block Virtualization Service Client (VSC) to provide enhanced performance. Time Sync: The clock inside the virtual machine will remain synchronized with the clock on the virtualization server with the help of the pluggable time source device. Integrated Shutdown: Virtual machines running Linux can be shut down from either Hyper-V Manager or System Center Virtual Machine Manager by using the “Shut down” command. Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) Support: Supported Linux distributions can use multiple virtual processors per virtual machine. The actual number of virtual processors that can be allocated to a virtual machine is only limited by the underlying hypervisor. Heartbeat: This feature allows the virtualization server to detect whether the virtual machine is running and responsive. KVP (Key Value Pair) Exchange: Information about the running Linux virtual machine can be obtained by using the Key Value Pair exchange functionality on the Windows Server 2008 virtualization server. Integrated Mouse Support: Linux Integration Services provides full mouse support for Linux guest virtual machines.

The requirements are simple: If you have Hyper-V (including Windows Server 2008 RTM and Windows 8) on the host, and a supported build of Linux in the guest OS, the LIS will work.

Supported builds:

I am not an expert in Linux, but I do know that previous LIS sets supported several builds, including:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • SuUSE Linux Enterprise Server
  • FreeBSD
  • Ubuntu
  • CentOS

This most recent build only includes support for several builds of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (5.7, 5.8, 6.0, 6.3).  This is not because Microsoft does not care about Linux, nor because it feels that other builds are less important.  Simply stated, all versions of Linux based on Linux Kernel 2.6.32 and later include the drivers for Linux in Hyper-V out of the box.  There are articles on-line which explain how to enable these modules (see article from Port 25).

Microsoft wants you to use Windows Server; they are also realistic to know that not everyone does, and there are a huge number of heterogeneous environments out there.  Just because you use Linux in addition to Windows Server does not mean that you should discount Hyper-V (and all of its great benefits) as your hypervisor of choice. 

By the way, the best resource that I have found for Open Source support with Microsoft technologies is the Port 25 Blog right here on TechNet… Check them out here.