Microsoft and Novell have announced that Novell's Suse Linux will be supported as a guest under Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation product. However, some Linux users have said the deal only demonstrates the limited value of Microsoft's virtualisation offering.
"Microsoft would rather nobody used Linux," said Duncan Gibb, lead technical architect at open-source integrator Sirius. "They sell you a virtualisation technology that makes sure you are running Windows all the time and, if you insist on running Linux, they promote the one they approve of."
Suse is the only Linux version on Microsoft's list of supported guest operating systems. However, Gibb said he is sure that Hyper-V could support other versions easily. It has a similar interface to the open-source Xen hypervisor — which supports many Linux versions — and analyst Brain Madden has said that "one could plausibly argue that Hyper-V is the 'Windows version of Xen'."
Hyper-V's real role is to consolidate Windows servers for Microsoft-oriented users, said Gibb, adding that its main target is users who are currently doing that with VMware's ESX, which Hyper-V is priced to undercut.
Like Xen, VMware is well ahead of Hyper-V in terms of Linux support, with an install guide listing dozens of supported versions.
Observers of open source don't expect Microsoft to hurry to add more supported versions. "My guess is they will put Debian and Ubuntu in that list when hell freezes over," said Mark Taylor, founder of the Open Source Consortium.
Microsoft and Novell were contacted but made no comment before press time.