Linux optimize

Hyper-V now supports CentOS guest virtual machines

The recent announcement that Hyper-V supports CentOS Linux guest virtual machines makes Microsoft's offering even more attractive to organizations of all sizes.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the operating system giant Microsoft has included support for additional Linux platforms running as virtual machines on Microsoft Hyper-V. The recent announcement from Microsoft TechEd in Atlanta brings CentOS Linux into the fold.

CentOS is a popular Linux distribution that is kept in lockstep with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is a component-level equivalent of all of the packages that make up RHEL; that is, the same packages, version, and Linux kernel are used in CentOS. There are a few big differences with CentOS compared to RHEL. Primarily, CentOS is free, and there is no formal support like RHEL. DistroWatch.com describes it like this, "CentOS is for people who need an enterprise class operating system stability without the cost of certification and support."

Hyper-V also supports a few editions of RHEL and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as guest operating systems, which is why the addition of CentOS isn't earth-shattering news. It was big news in 2008 when SUSE Linux Enterprise Server was first announced as a supported (non-Windows) operating system for Hyper-V. When that was launched, the big limitation was that only one virtual CPU was supported for the Linux virtual machine; this limitation has been removed. Other Linux distributions "work" in Hyper-V, but may not be on the supported list of operating systems.

Keen observers of the supported guest operating systems for Hyper-V will notice that the non-Windows operating systems are limited to server-class editions. There are no Linux distributions that are desktop/client editions on the supported operating systems list.

Plenty of Windows operating systems round out the Hyper-V list, with the exception of Windows 2000 being removed as a supported platform by Microsoft in July 2010. VMware, on the other hand, can provide MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 guest VM support for current versions of ESXi; albeit there is no corresponding Microsoft support.

Does the CentOS news make Hyper-V more attractive to your virtualization adoption, or more specifically your Hyper-V adoption? Post your answer in the discussion.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

6 comments
tsadowski
tsadowski

Why use Hyper-V for Linux VM's? Put simply, for compatability. We purchased Windows Datacenter for 3 VM Hosts. Why Datacenter you may ask? Because DataCenter is licensed per CPU socket, so we can run as many Windows installs as we can on each physical system without having to purchase additional Licenses. We also use Linux, CentOS mostly, and having support for CentOS in HyperV means that we don't have to purchase or run other Hypervisors to support hose installs. With a single hypervisor platform we can do all those cool high availability things, and we don't have to train everyone on multiple hypervisors. I was originally a VMware guy, and I like XenServer, but it comes down to simplicity and cost considerations. If I want all the benefits of the setup I have, but on XenServer or VMware, I have to purchase a full on Hypervisor setup, like vCenter, and then I still have to buy copies of Windows for each of my MS vms. That is just too much damn money, when I can get a much bigger bang-for-my buck with a few copies of Windows Datacenter!

Shad0wguy
Shad0wguy

We have a handful of Hyper-V machines with a few Linux based VM's. I really wish MS would support Ubuntu Server, since that is what we primarily use. @Alpha_Dog We are primarily a MS shop, but there are a few open source utilities we use so it is helpful to have support for some Linux distros.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

Am I the only one that thinks this is funny? Fair warning... we are a Linux shop. Using a stripped down and hardened version of CentOS as a starting point, we have made a product which, barring external issues, we guarantee to have a six-sigma uptime... less than 2 minutes of downtime per year and less than 9 minutes over the 5 year product life. Sorry guys, its far more likely that the MS OS will require major work than CentOS as long as both are properly installed and maintained (one of the reasons we switched). You will want your most stable machine on the bare metal, an put the rest on VMs so a crash on one will not affect the others. Use CentOS and run Virtual Box. Throw your MS server OS on this. Map the physical drive to the VM. All done. The questions boil down to these: If you're a MS shop, why would you use a CentOS VM? If you are a Linux shop, why would you use an expensive (and arguably dodgy) MS product as a root OS when better free solutions abound?

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

Yaknow, I can see that now, especially if you are using the VMs as a support sandbox. Thanks for the reality check. As far as Ubuntu support, have you considered using VirtualBox under Windows and use whatever client machine you like? I actually have some Android VMs running on Ubuntu Server with the GUI running on a separate VM on the workstation to simulate the separate kernel and Java layers.

b4real
b4real

So, VMware will always be leaps and bounds ahead of MS on *Nix support.

b4real
b4real

I use it quite a bit. For Type I hypervisors, however; we don't really have a fit here with vBox.