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Windows 8 CP and Virtualization

vhd virtualization windows 8

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#1 sambul61


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:30 AM


Win8 Consumer Preview is shipped with new Hyper-V 3.0 native Windows Hypervisor delivering many new capabilities and usage pathways, including of course basic task of running Virtual Machines inside Win8 host. Learn more about Hyper-V in Win8 from MS Windows boss Steven Sinofsky's article Bringing Hyper-V to “Windows 8”.

To enable Hyper-V function:

- Open Control PanelProgramsPrograms and Features
- Click Turn Windows features on or off
- Check the Hyper-V option

Keep in mind, to boost Graphics performance on both host and guest OSs, enabling Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system & host OS with second level address translation (SLAT) capable processor and min 4 GB RAM. You can also enable SLAT support via a BIOS setting where available. Hyper-V can run 32-and-64-bit guest OSs, and will work great with 2Gb extra allocated per each Win8 or Win7 guest.

Stay tuned to the topic - there is a lot more to come... :D

#2 sambul61


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 06:02 PM


Hyper-V was originally introduced as a virtualization component of Windows Server platform. New Windows Server "8" Beta is now offered for download, and contains Hyper-V 3.0 Role as well. Usage patterns of Hyper-V in Windows Server are briefly described in Microsoft Windows Server 8 Hyper-V article. Also, some users found running light weight fast Windows Server to be an ideal medium for a Graphics or CAD Workstation. MS even released Remote Server Administration Tools, allowing to administer such servers from a Win8 CP client.

One can learn more about Windows Server 8 and numerous Hyper-V roles in it, many of which can also be utilized in Hyper-V running on client OS like Win8 CP, from Windows Server 8 MS Presentation.

Running virtualized environments and clouds requires new more resilient File System, working well even if some of consumer grade SATA hard drives in a distributed storage may fail. Hyper-V supports next generation file system for Windows - ReFS.

In the following posts we'll concentrate on using Hyper-V for consumer and "explorer" endeavors inside Win8 Consumer Preview.

#3 sambul61


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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:32 AM


So, in Win8 CP the Hyper-V replaced Windows Virtual PC, which doesn't support installation and running Win8. Hyper-V major advantage is sheer corporate power in user virtualization experience, and it relies on Virtual Hard Disks (VHD) storage medium in delivering this experience. Why virtualization is important at home for a consumer? One of many advantages we already know - it allows running OS on real hardware from a VHD file almost as efficiently as from real HD. Since native boot from VHD becomes available in Win7, its popularity in testing new software, PC service and daily routing tasks grown exponentially. According to MS official OS telemetry stats, more than 30% of Win8 CP installs are now done to native boot VHDs - this is despite the release is mostly consumer oriented. This figure is expected to grow fast in the future.

VHD delivers overwhelming advantages to a "user at large" compare to original or extracted ISO run from HD or USB Thumb:

- a user needs to copy only a single VHD file to the Thumb and can delete it at once instead of thousand of OS files from an extracted ISO;
- it allows to install and run any number of regular unmodified apps to the VHD, which isn't possible with ISO, even the extracted one;
- in most practical scenarios OS and apps run from the VHD as fast as from a physical HD;
- the VHD can be made relatively small after some OS customization, able to run on older hardware.

One obvious way to install Win8 CP to a VHD is to hook Win8 CP Setup ISO to a Hyper-V VM, create a new VHD with Hyper-V Manager, and install the OS as usual to the VHD as a hard drive. In this scenario VHD must then be sysprepped (generalized) or some of its Registry and BCD settings adjusted to enable booting it natively on a real PC.

Why then Hyper-V requires SLAT capable processor, making it unavailable on older hardware? One of main reasons is RemoteFX technology supported by Hyper-V 3.0, which allows to virtualize physical GPU in virtual machines in a way that enables graphics hardware acceleration inside VMs. This makes playing high resolution MKV movies or web video inside a Hyper-V VM as smooth as on real hardware. The host's VM rendered signal is then compressed and sent wireless via low bandwidth Remote Desktop Connections to Thin Clients, Tablets or TVs, thus delivering low cost high quality graphics and video across various end user home devices. Remote Clients can also hook into Hyper-V VMs via a scaled down VM Console connection. So, ideally one can run several Hyper-V VMs on a single Win8 CP host server, and all family members can watch various movies, listen to music or browse the web via such server using scaled down cheap Netbooks or Thin Clients hooked to TVs & large Monitors & Audio Systems, each connected to its own Guest VM, or have separate VM Desktops in their whole discretion on personal Tablets.

For Windows 8 Server and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, SLAT support isn’t mandatory unless the RemoteFX role service is enabled. Lets hope, product differentiation will urge MS to lift at some point SLAT proc requirement in Win8 Client, making Hyper-V available with limited features on older PCs running Win8. Even if your PC can't run Hyper-V now, it can still boot Win8 CP from a native boot VHD, so you don't need to create a separate partition on your HD to try Win8. :)

#4 sambul61


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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:30 AM


It may be hard to believe, but MS that earlier claimed "Open Source is cancer", now embraces "mixed IT", stated to "love open source" :lol: , and actively contributed to Linux kernel development by providing Hyper-V drivers, making sure they will be supplied with major Linux distributions. The reason is, Data Centers where Hyper-V is actively used for various tasks are typically mixed OS environments, and customers demand interoperability. Apart from most Windows versions, for awhile Hyper-V supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise Server as guest OSs. Recently it added freely distributed CentOS because it's a popular distribution for web hosters. MS currently works with Ubuntu team to add support in Hyper-V for the Ubuntu Guest popular in consumer market.

One can add Linux Integration Services Version v3.2 for Hyper-V to enhance experience of running Linux guests in it. Usually its added after installing a supported Linux distro to a VHD in a Hyper-V VM.

Watch MS Video interview on Linux support in Hyper-V and some other new Hyper-V features.

#5 saddlejib


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Posted 10 March 2012 - 01:39 AM

"Embraces" could be seen as a pejorative term.
Life moves on.
MS exists and so does Linux:
So the next question is is the bios firmware or the "Holy Grail".
Various Cd/Dvd sites wrote firmware upgrades for Cd's/Dvd's to improve there performance. Surely an objective of reboot.pro should be "firmware" updates for bios .rom's ?
I like:

#6 sambul61


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Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:47 PM


The original VHD file format was created by Connectix, and offered by MS in their products after acquisition of Connectix and their Virtual PC in 2003. In 2006 MS posted publicly VHD Format Specification to allow its partners create apps using this format. Now new Hyper-V 3.0 brings to Win 8 CP a new VHD file format - VHDX with expended specs:

- Usable in all original VHD scenarios (including boot from VHDX)
- Max size has gone up from 2TB in VHD to 16TB in VHDX (min 3MB)
- It is default virtual disk format for Hyper-V 3.0 in Win 8 (not supported by earlier versions)
- Convertible to VHD and back to VHDX where spec permits
- Creatable by the default Hyper-V PowerShell Library in Win 8, hence doesn't require Hyper-V role enabled
- Has a default larger block size (32MB for fixed and dynamic disks, and 2MB for differencing) and aligns at 1MB boundaries (in a range between 1 and 256MB)
- Sector size matches physical disk sector size, and sectors and all internal I/O are 4K aligned, thus addressing current 4K trend in disk formatting
- Read & Write ops are equal to or faster in speed than VHD disks
- Can be mounted, browsed and ejected from Windows Explorer
- Resilient to power failures as it uses a log file for metadata changes like block allocations and state changes (the data blocks itself are not logged)

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#7 sambul61


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Posted 11 March 2012 - 04:56 PM


Soon after releasing Win8 CP MS separately released free Hyper-V Server 8 Beta as a single role based on Win8 Core. You can download it from Hyper-V Server page (see Get the Beta, Windows Live ID may be needed), install it to a native boot VHD and try Hyper-V 3.0 Server in action running from your PC. This release doesn't require SLAT capable processor if RemoteFX isn't used. Once the server is setup with all VMs added, you can control it via GUI from another Win8 PC with Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The Technet Blog article Installing, configuring and managing Hyper-V Server “8” Beta describes advantages of this release and its specs.

Basically, it allows you to test drive Hyper-V 3.0 on an older PC without SLAT support, while also lifting some restrictions imposed on Hyper-V within Win8 CP because its a server version. Some of the expended features:

- No processor/core limit on the Hyper-V host
- up to 160 Logical processors
- up to 2TB memory on the host
- max 1TB memory per VM (without memory tax)
- max 1024 VM’s per Hyper-V host
- up to 32 virtual processors per VM
- Failover Cluster Support
- Live VM Migration
- Live Storage Migration
- No shared storage Live Migration
- RemoteFX supports more monitors and resolutions
- Storage Spaces support
- supporting VMs on File Based Storage (SMB 2.2 Share on a Scale Out File Server)
- Vendor independent NIC Teaming
- Hyper-V Replica

You can learn more about its main features and the ways to use on MS Hyper-V official site and from many Virtualization Blogs. Of course, originally Hyper-V mostly targeted enterprise and data center markets, but consumer oriented features description will follow as Win8 docs matures. Pay more attention to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Repurposing Older Hardware as a Content Storage Server.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: vhd, virtualization, windows 8

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