Playing around with Hyper-V is fun. It’s one of the core components of Microsoft Azure. This Cloud computing thing is (of course) nothing magical. Microsoft has described their cloud in technical detail in one of their free ebooks. The main components are Win Server 2012 R2, System Center, Hyper-V and RDP. Microsofts power lies in the scalability (virtual server, virtual network) and management (System Center 2012).

Microsoft provides full featured time limited evaluation versions of Win 8.1 Enterprise and Win Server 2012 R2 for free on their Software Evaluation site. Win 8.1 Enterprise can be used for 90 days and Win Server 2012 R2 for 180 days. I think that’s a great opportunity to try things out. Win 8.1 Enterprise (and Win 8.1 Pro) main functionalities over the normal 8.1 version are client Hyper-V, Remote Desktop Server, Bitlocker and Domain support. For private use, Hyper-V and remote desktop are the most interesting ones (Bitlocker not being included in all Win 8.1 versions is a bad decision from a security standpoint)

About price, looking only at the Hyper-V functionality: the Win 8.1 Pro version costs 159 Euro more (130 at Amazon). But this only half the story: VMware and the likes bring out new releases every year. How much do you pay over a 5 year period?

Installing Ubuntu 12.04 on Hyper-V is easy. Note that the “guest additions” are included in most modern Linux distros. Since (Azure) Cloud customers also demand Linux support, Microsoft is willing to help out. Make sure to use the framebuffer device driver for your Xserver. The VGA driver works but resolution is limited to 1154 x 900. Ubuntu autodetects this correctly but other distros might not. Figuring this one out for Arch Linux took some time… The Xserver logfile is your friend here!

Setting the video resolution is best done by passing it as argument to the Hyper-V framebuffer driver on the kernel command line. In other words, edit your GRUB configuration file by adding the video option as follows:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash video=hyperv_fb:1920×1080

and generate the GRUB config with the update-grub command.
(here the resolution is set to Full-HD which is the maximal resolution the hyperv_fb driver supports)

Hyper-V has it’s “limitations” due to the fact that it’s not a consumer product like Parallels or VMware Fusion (both are virtualization products that run on OSX). But the way it handles network connectivity for example is fun. Highly recommended for IT Pros to try and play with it.

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