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geek-accountant
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I seem to be getting the title "Linux guy", which really is far from the truth, but I know post like this one don't help.

 

Anyway, I know a lot of people here use Hyper-V as their virtual server instead of VMware or Xenserver. If you do use Hyper-V, are you using the server version or the full OS version? I have no interest in VMware and have been using, and loving, Xenserver, but have recently been doing some research on Hyper-V. However, I have not been able to find any really good comparisons between the most current Xenserver and Hyper-V, so a few questions:

 

 

 

1. As noted above, do you run the server version or the full OS version, and why?

2. Does it support the running of Linux OS's (I know, Linux Guy).

3. Can you over commit memory?

4. Does it support thin provisioning?

5. Other than local storage, can it use NFS shares for storage?

6. With the server version, how do you remote manage the VM's?

7. Why did you chose Hyper-V over the other options?

 

 

I should mention that since this is for home use/testing, I am only interested in the free version (I have a Technet subscription so I should be able to get the full OS version also).

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Hey there, I've been running WHSv1 on Hyper-V for about a month now, so I'll do my best to answer your questions. First, I should preface this by stating that I'm in no way, shape, or form a Hyper-V expert. In fact, I'd never even touched Hyper-V as my original goal was to use VMWare, but ended up using Hyper-V for reasons I'll explain in #7.

 

1. I'm running the "bare-metal" hypervisor. (not the full OS)

2. Microsoft officially supports SUSE and RHEL linux. That being said, people have had success with many other non-supported linux distros. Personally I'm running Ubuntu (Meerkat) 64-bit on Hyper-V and it works great.

3. I believe memory overcommit is coming in the next service pack, which is either already out or is coming soon. (I'm not using it however)

4. Not sure on this...

5. I think so, not positive.

6. Management needs to be done remotely using the Hyper-V Admin client. This requires Windows 7 Professional or higher. (home premium won't cut it) This would have been a big downside except that I also have a Technet subscription. It's reasonably easy to use, though certainly not as feature-rich as something like VSphere client.

7. When I decided to try WHS, I really didn't want to devote a machine to it and so was immediately thinking about virtualizing it. My original plan was to use VMWare ESXi. Hyper-V crossed my mind, but since I had never used it I wasn't interested, and to be honest I didn't give Xenserver any real consideration. I've never used Xenserver, but have some friends in IT and they all universally hate it. (no idea why...) The turning point, however, happened when I started having hardware compatibility problems with ESXi. ESXi rocks in my opinion, but it's very picky about the hardware you use. I really wanted to use it, but at the same time I really didn't want to start buying a bunch of new hardware. Then I came across this blog which made my decision easier: http://www.unproductivitydefined.com/2010/02/virtualizing-windows-home-server-on.html

The author of that blog started down a similar road as me, and ended up using Hyper-V because of the much wider hardware support. (you basically can use any hardware that is supported by Windows server 2008) Since it could allow me to map physical disks to my WHS VM (same as VMWare's raw device mapping) I was sold.

 

Anyway, hope that helps answer some of your questions. I'm really happy with Hyper-V and WHS, and this is coming from someone who is primarily a Mac and Linux guy. :)

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Hey there, I've been running WHSv1 on Hyper-V for about a month now, so I'll do my best to answer your questions. First, I should preface this by stating that I'm in no way, shape, or form a Hyper-V expert. In fact, I'd never even touched Hyper-V as my original goal was to use VMWare, but ended up using Hyper-V for reasons I'll explain in #7.

 

1. I'm running the "bare-metal" hypervisor. (not the full OS)

2. Microsoft officially supports SUSE and RHEL linux. That being said, people have had success with many other non-supported linux distros. Personally I'm running Ubuntu (Meerkat) 64-bit on Hyper-V and it works great.

3. I believe memory overcommit is coming in the next service pack, which is either already out or is coming soon. (I'm not using it however)

4. Not sure on this...

5. I think so, not positive.

6. Management needs to be done remotely using the Hyper-V Admin client. This requires Windows 7 Professional or higher. (home premium won't cut it) This would have been a big downside except that I also have a Technet subscription. It's reasonably easy to use, though certainly not as feature-rich as something like VSphere client.

7. When I decided to try WHS, I really didn't want to devote a machine to it and so was immediately thinking about virtualizing it. My original plan was to use VMWare ESXi. Hyper-V crossed my mind, but since I had never used it I wasn't interested, and to be honest I didn't give Xenserver any real consideration. I've never used Xenserver, but have some friends in IT and they all universally hate it. (no idea why...) The turning point, however, happened when I started having hardware compatibility problems with ESXi. ESXi rocks in my opinion, but it's very picky about the hardware you use. I really wanted to use it, but at the same time I really didn't want to start buying a bunch of new hardware. Then I came across this blog which made my decision easier: http://www.unproductivitydefined.com/2010/02/virtualizing-windows-home-server-on.html

The author of that blog started down a similar road as me, and ended up using Hyper-V because of the much wider hardware support. (you basically can use any hardware that is supported by Windows server 2008) Since it could allow me to map physical disks to my WHS VM (same as VMWare's raw device mapping) I was sold.

 

Anyway, hope that helps answer some of your questions. I'm really happy with Hyper-V and WHS, and this is coming from someone who is primarily a Mac and Linux guy. :)

 

 

Thanks for the info and the link, an interesting read. I would love to hear why your friends hate Xenserver, my experience has been all positive, but of course it has been limited to home use.

 

Memory over commit being added to Hyper-V would be great. I doubt it will ever be added the the free version of Xenserver.

 

The install process seems a bit more involved with Hyper-V vs Xenserver, I may decided to give the full OS version a try.

 

Do you know if you can bind NIC cards to balance the network load over multiple cards?

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> 1. As noted above, do you run the server version or the full OS version, and why?

 

I went with Server Standard as opposed to Core. It's a dedicated Hyper-V box, but I'm a little paranoid about not being able to get easy, direct access to the filesystem so I wanted to make sure I'd be in a familiar environment. I also wanted to make sure I'd be able to setup monitoring and performance counters without an issue. (You might be able to do these things in Core, but at the time I didn't have the cycles to investigate..)

 

> 2. Does it support the running of Linux OS's (I know, Linux Guy).

 

I haven't had to do this specifically, but my understanding is that certain distributions are supported. (Ie, Red Hat Enterprise etc)

 

> 3. Can you over commit memory?

 

At the moment, no. This will be available in Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1, which is set to drop sometime in the next six months (along with Windows 7 SP1).

 

> 4. Does it support thin provisioning?

 

I'm assuming you're referring to disk space here. Yes, you can make dynamic disks. There is a small performance hit (documented in a few of the Hyper-V whitepapers), but it can be useful in test environments depending on what you're doing.

 

> 5. Other than local storage, can it use NFS shares for storage?

 

I'm not sure. I don't see why it wouldn't be able to (particularly if you mounted the share as a drive). Performance could be an issue though so I wouldn't recommend it.

iSCSI is also supported, but not for the VM OS drive. This is incredibly odd to me, but there are work-arounds to the problem if you're not worried about Live Migration between Hyper-V servers. (ie, mount the iSCSI drive in the host OS and then point the VM there to boot, but this won't work for live-migration since you can only mount on one machine at a time). iSCSI is fully supported on the VM storage drives though.

 

> 6. With the server version, how do you remote manage the VM's?

 

You can install the Hyper-V management client on any Windows Vista/7/2008/2008-R2 machine.

 

> 7. Why did you chose Hyper-V over the other options?

 

Two reasons : Hardware compatibility and familiarity with the OS.

 

Hardware compatibility was an issue for me because at the time I started getting to Hyper-V, the only real competitor was VMWare. ESXi is a terrific environment if you're using an OEM server and basically build the box according to their compatibility list. If you're using off the shelf hardware (like I am in my home environment) from what I've heard it's a little more difficult to work with. Since I don't have the time or money to deal with compatibility issues, I went for something I knew would work reliably and picked Hyper-V.

 

Familiarity with the OS was the other issue for me because I had an enormously difficulty time working with non-Windows OSs about ten years ago. At the time the linux distributions weren't nearly as polished and user-friendly as they are now and it was an absolute nightmare trying to read from a network share via a windows machine. I basically went with the Windows-based solution because I'm paranoid about not being able to get to my VM data files if anything happens to the host OS. When Server 2008, I know if I need to, I can just pop the disk out and read it without issue on another machine on my network.

 

> 8. Do you know if you can bind NIC cards to balance the network load over multiple cards?

 

Yes. You can bind a specific NiC to a VM. The recommended configuration is a 1:1 mapping of NiCs to VM. You can also run multiple VMs off a single NiC, or add multiple NiCs to a single VM. Or if you're dealing with a higher-end NiC cards, you can use NiC teaming for load-balancing/failover of traffic for your VMs.

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Thanks for the info!

 

I think I am going to give the full OS version a try. The install process for either the full OS or the baremetal version is much more involved than installing Xenserver (which I can have up in running in under 15 minutes. But I like trying new software and this looks promising. Plus if they have memory over commit coming, that is HUGE. Also, as long as the overhead is small, I like the idea of having the full OS there to do some other things.

 

What I was meaning by NIC binding, or is it bonding, is taking two or more NIC's and combining them into one. You then give the combo to the VM's and the virtual software will balance the load of the group of NIC's. That way you don't need a 1 to 1 ratio for NIC's to VM's and in most cases don't need to worry about loading more than one VM on one NIC.

 

So far, I have had no problems with hardware support using Xenserver. I have used several motherboards, several AMD CPU's and a whole host of NIC's and no problems, but as you mentioned, my first intention was to use ESXi which gave me all kinds of hardware compatibility problems. I have to image Hyper-V will be at least as good as Xenserver when it comes to hardware support.

 

I am a little worried about the Linux support. While most of the VM's I will run will be Windows based, I do want to run Ubuntu and Fedora and most likely will want to test other. You mentioned that Linux was a pain back when you used it, well in many ways it still is and I don't know how people can use it as their main desktop OS unless all they do is browse the internet or just love always having to fight the OS. But there is something about it that keeps making me give it a try. Of course I ran OS2 back when it came out also, but only for a little bit.

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Let me know what your experiences are. I'd love to see some comparisons between Hyper-V and Xenserver.

 

What you're talking about with the NiCs is called Bonding or Teaming. Generally this has to be supported by the nic drivers, or software that ships with the card. I've got a couple dual-port server NiCs (HP) at work that I've been playing with and it works pretty decently. If anyone happens to be aware of a set of consumer-grade Nics (or a software solution) that allows bonding, please let me know!!

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With Xenserver, I have been able to bond any NIC I have tried (although the free version only allows two NIC's to be bonded at a time). I have bonded Intel NIC's the $30 Pro version, Linksys NIC's (old 10/100 version) and Netgear NIC's.

 

I pretty much just use the 10/100/1000 Intel Pro NIC's now (the $30 version), so hopefully Hyper-V will let me bond them.

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I am a little worried about the Linux support. While most of the VM's I will run will be Windows based, I do want to run Ubuntu and Fedora and most likely will want to test other. You mentioned that Linux was a pain back when you used it, well in many ways it still is and I don't know how people can use it as their main desktop OS unless all they do is browse the internet or just love always having to fight the OS.

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I had zero problems getting the latest Ubuntu up and running. The only "gotcha" to be aware of is that when you define the network connector in Hyper-V, you need to choose the "legacy network" option. The reason for this is because you are not using Microsoft's linux integration services (their bundle of drivers) because that stuff is only for RHEL and SUSE linux. (the 2 officially supported distros) Otherwise, my Ubuntu VM has been running solid for weeks now.

 

Having said that, if you're goal is to exclusively run lots of linux distros on a virtualization platform, Hyper-V probably shouldn't be your first choice. Nevertheless, linux support is there and I think many people (myself included) have had good experiences running linux on Hyper-V. Microsoft has realized that Linux is an important part of the enterprise and isn't going anywhere soon. Even shops that run lots of Windows servers often run Linux too.

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Thanks for the tip. Plan is to run mainly Windows based systems, but it sounds like I don't want to convert my other Xenserver to Hyper-V since it is running pfSense (FreeBSD based) and Untangle (not sure what it is based upon). Plus I don't really want to mess with that system since it has been running rock solid for months without a single reboot.

 

I plan to start the install tonight, so hopefully it will be fairly painless.

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Well, so far I am really frustrated. After a LONG install process, mainly due to the raid setup I was trying, I finally got the system loaded. I then downloaded the admin software for Windows 7 and it will not connect. I can remote desktop into the machine just fine, but using the remote Hyper-V software but it keeps saying I don't have permission to complete this task and will not connect to the server.

 

I searched for the problem online and the solution seems complicated and I have not been able to solve it yet. Does everyone who uses the Windows 7 Hyper-V management software have to go through this or is this caused by how I have my home network setup?

 

After over a hour of trying to solve this, I finally said heck I will just install a VM by using remote desktop and run the Hyper-V manager that way. However, I am stuck at the EULA screen on the WHS install and can't get the keyboard to move the selection up to the "I accept this agreement" button and the mouse will not work saying "Mouse not captured in Remote Desktop session".

 

I have to say that with all the time I have spent so far with not even the first VM loaded, using Xenserver I would already have all of them loaded and running. I am not ready to give up as the system looks very promising, but I am VERY frustrated at how hard this is so far.

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