Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A first look at Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V

After downloading the Windows Server 2008 RTM, yesterday, I upgraded my RC1 system to RTM. No problems what so ever - great.


My system is a desktop, a Dell Dimension E520 with 4 Gigs or RAM and I am very satisfied with it: It is silent, uses only 130 W when idle and runs 10 Virtual Machines each having 300 GB without problems. If they all apply hotfixes or are running similar IO heavy activity at the same time, you feel the IO bottleneck but besides that, its quite fast.


Next, I was looking a how to get Hyper-V running, so I could get rid of Virtual Server. Even though I was quite happy with that, you know how it is: You have to try the latest and the greatest. When things starts to run well, it is time to change it...

Well, it turns out that the pre-release of Hyper-V is part of the RTM installation, so I simply added the Hyper-V role to the server and restarted it. After restart it is a matter of finding Administrative Tools and select Hyper-V Manager. You also have to accept a pre-release EULA.

Migration of Virtual Server guests

I started trying to import an existing Virtual Server guest, but got a badly written error message: The operation was passed an invalid parameter. I tried both with and with-out 'Reuse old virtual machine IDs' (whatever that means - haven't found a help topic yet). I also tried to give NETWORK SERVICE modify access to the folder, as I can see the Microsoft Hyper-V Image Management Service uses that account. Did not help either.


Next, I created a new Virtual Machine and liked a lot that I asked me about OS installation in the wizard. I selected a Windows Server 2003 SP2 ISO image and off it went. I started to play with snapshots and took one while the installation had copied 6% of the files. Then I waited until it reached 9% and applied the snapshot - and I was back in time. Very nice.

I also tried the other scenario, where you can create a new snapshot before applying one. Soon, I had a bunch of snapshots and it is very easy to jump back and forth between the versions - but I guess, it is also very easy to get confused and you have to take care if the server is a domain controller or your have some other kind of distributed system.

Mouse Control

A small warning: When you use the new remote control feature - called Virtual Machine Connection - your have to release your mouse using CTRL+SHIFT+LEFT ARROW. Well, I did not succeed in that across Remote Desktop. I had to visit the server (approx 60 cm behind me!) and do it from the console. It is configurable, but CTRL+ALT+SHIFT did not work either. I could only make it work in full screen or if I choose to send "Windows key combinations" to the remote server. For me, this is a bug.

But as I browsed the web trying to find something about the importing problem, I found out that this is actually already documented in the release notes. Quote "The use of Virtual Machine Connection within a Terminal Services session is not supported".

BTW: If you disconnect and re-connect, you can get your mouse activated outside of the Virtual Machine Connection window. If your server is farther away than mine, that may be an option.

Resume after restart of host

Another good thing: With Virtual Server you had to configure an account, to enable a Virtual Machine to start automatically. This is not the case with Hyper-V. Actually, "Automatically start if it was running when the service stopped" is selected by default.

Conclusion so far

Seems ok, but I have to look more closely at the importing problem and the scripting interface.

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