During the summer of 2009 Microsoft released the hyper-v integration services, (VM Additions or VMware tool equivalents if you are new to the term), to the open source community. This placed the integration service drivers into the Linux device driver tree. What does this mean and what has happened 6 months down the line?
By making the hyper-v drivers openly available it means operating systems will be capable of using the enhanced device drivers for networking and storage. This provides improved performance and device support (synthetic network adapters and scsi disk support) within virtual machines.
One of the interesting terms here is the word support. Often when I am teaching hyper-v I am often asked what operating systems does Microsoft supports within Hyper-V. Microsoft’s use of the term ‘support’ actually means they will handle support issues with the operating system even if the operating system is not theirs. Therefore if a customer has an issue with Red Hat Linux within a Hyper-V VM and it turns out the problem is a Red Hat issue Microsoft will raise this with Red Hat rather than redirect the customer to Red Hat to source their own support. This means when we talk about operating systems that are ‘supported’ within Hyper-V there are effectively 3 levels of support:
1) Fully Supported by Microsoft
Windows 2000 SP4 , Windows XP SP2+, Windows Server 2003 SP1+, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 (R2), Suse Linux 10 & 11, Red Hat Linux
2) Integration Service Support
Any Linux with Kernel version 2.6.32 (e.g. Ubuntu 10.04)
3) Everything else.
From this list it means that if the OS is in category 1 MS will full support the operating system in Hyper-v including problems with the OS running in Hyper-V, even if the problem is with the OS itself (unique to Microsoft). Category 2 and 3 would be to support Hyper-V and its components, but not the OS itself, therefore if the problem was within the OS, Microsoft would refer you back to the OS vendor much the same as all virtualization vendors.
So how have things changed since the summer of 09. Well as already hinted at the Kernel with the drivers is available today (Dec 2009) and some vendors have alpha/beta OSes already built on it. So you could download the alpha of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) or a Debian Linux and try it today. The kernel could also be downloaded and installed on a current Linux build too. So today support is growing and possibly the end of 2010 most Linux variants will have the Hyper-V integration services built into them
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