Open Source

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. 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.


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.

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