One of the critical aspects of selecting a hypervisor is determining what operating systems are available. At first glance, one may think that Hyper-V only would include Windows guest operating systems. This is not the case! In fact, Linux Kernel 3.4 has the Hyper-V host integration services driver built-in. Yes, the Hyper-V driver enlightenment kit is built into to 3.4.

For now, there is a defined list of supported guest operating systems that are planned for Windows Server 2012. There are two main categories of supported guest operating systems: Windows and Linux. For the Windows Server family, the following operating systems are supported:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (SP1 and base release) and Windows Server 2008 (SP2 and base release)
  • Windows Home Server 2011
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP2.
  • For the Windows client family the list includes Windows 8, Windows 7 (SP1 and base release), Windows Vista SP2, and Windows XP SP3.

In the Linux realm, the list is smaller yet workable. Hyper-V with Windows Server 2012 will include CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

The integration services drivers are built in to Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012; all other operating systems need it to be installed. Windows Server 2008 R2, for example, has integration services on it, but it is an older edition, optimized for Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2.

In regards to Linux, an interesting debate can be had. There are number of appliances that are being distributed, but they mainly reside in the VMware virtualization ecosystem. While they usually are Linux-based, they don’t always align to the base operating systems or mainstream distributions. This will be an interesting area that will develop over time, but for what is most common in my virtualization and system administration practice – Windows is king.

For those using Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2, the list of supported operating systems is here. Additional information on the supported operating systems for Windows Server 2012 can also be found on TechNet.

Is there an operating system you need for Hyper-V but don’t see on the list? Which ones are they? Share your comments below.