Microsoft touts Linux virtualization improvements coming in Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft touts Linux virtualization improvements coming in Windows Server 2012 R2

Summary: Microsoft is beefing up its Linux guest support in the coming Windows Server 2012 R2, a k a Windows Server "Blue" release.


Last year, Microsoft announced plans to host Linux in virtual machines -- along with Windows Server VMs -- in Windows Azure. But that's not the end of what Microsoft is doing to try to make its Windows server and cloud the best platform for running Linux workloads.


With the coming Windows Server 2012 "Blue" (Windows Server 2012 R2) release, Microsoft is adding improvements targeted at those running Linux on Hyper-V in Windows Server.

A July 24 post to the company's Server & Tools blog detailed some of those coming updates, which revolve around the Linux Integration Services (LIS) network, disk, time-sync, shutdown and other drivers Microsoft built. Microsoft also built into its Hyper-V hypervisor features to enable live backups for Linux guests and live migration for Linux guests work the same as they do for Windows guests, according to the post.

"(W)e worked across the board to ensure Linux is at its best on Hyper-V," said Server & Tools Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson, author of the post.

Microsoft has been working with the Linux community, after a rough start, to get its drivers built into various Linux distributions. Currently, LIS is built into:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.9 and 6.4
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 and SP3
  • Ubuntu Server 12.04, 12.10, and 13.04
  • CentOS 5.9 and 6.4
  • Oracle Linux 6.4 (Red Hat Compatible Kernel)
  • Debian GPU/Linux 7.0

With the Windows Server 2012 R2 release, Microsoft is making the following updates to LIS, endeavoring to make sure it works as well as Windows on the coming version of Hyper-V:

  • Dynamic memory: Increase Linux VM density on Hyper-V by having Hyper-V automatically add and remove physical memory for Linux guests based on the guest needs, just like for Windows.
  • 2D synthetic video driver: Better 2D video performance for Linux guests.
  • VMbus protocol updates: Linux guests have the ability to spread interrupts across multiple virtual CPUs for better performance, just like for Windows.
  • Kexec: Linux guests running in Hyper-V can get crash dumps, just like on physical hardware.
  • SQM support. Collects statistical data from Hyper-V about the usage of Linux distributions.

Windows Sever 2012 R2 is expected to be released to manufacturing the same time that Windows 8.1 is, which means some time in August 2013. Microsoft officials have declined to say when customers will be able to get their hands on the RTM bits of these client or server updates.

In other Windows Server and Windows Azure news this week, Microsoft's Open Technologies subsidiary and Azul, maker of the Zing Java runtime for enterprise, plan to release a newly-built OpenJDK for Windows Server on Azure by the end of the year. This will give Java developers writing Windows Server apps another option, in addition to the recently announced Oracle one.

Also this week, Microsoft competitor Amazon announced it is adding support to its .Net software development kit (SDK) for Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and Windows RT developers who are using its cloud services (as opposed to Azure). The SDK is in preview.

Topics: Virtualization, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Windows Server


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft touts Linux virtualization improvements coming in Windows Server

    One more way for Microsoft to help its customers new and current to migrate away from their nonfunctional linux boxes onto Microsoft based operating systems. Its quite a clever plan. Have the customer run linux in a vm until they can get their data migrated over to Microsoft Windows.
    • Too bad the facts paint a different picture.

      HyperV couldn't run anything but Windows until it was over a year old, when MS had to start adding Linux support by popular demand.
      • Not true

        hyper-v 1 (which was released a few months after Server 2008 (which contained a beta version of Hyper-v) was perfectly capable of running Linux. i have been running CentOS and Asterisk on this very first version, and the actual VM continues to run on Hyper-v 3.0 released 8 months ago.
        • Ok, let me clarify.

          Redhat Linux was the first, and only, Linux listed as a 'supported OS' on Microsoft's HyperV web page, and that was not added until HyperV was out of beta.
          • Fair enough

            It indeed wasn't supported. But it certainly did run :)

            Being a Hyper-v and Vmware "admin", Hyper-v 4.0 has surpassed vmware, and the Linux support that has been added makes Hyper-v the obvious choice over vmware, certainly because it is free, the free version isn't limited in any way contrary yo vmware's free offering.
    • I'm sure there is some truth to your statement

      The news that Linux is still not the leader in servers looks to be ticking off the usual people.

      I've never seen them in Spin Mode, well not at the speed they're trying to spin things, lately.

      It seems kind of dangerous. I hope they don't get hurt.
      William Farrel
      • The news that Linux is still not the leader in servers

        What news is this?
        • it's actually not news, it's always been that way

          You just need to look.
          Johnny Vegas
          • it's actually not news, it's always been that way

            Oh really? well I've looked and I can't find anything that backs you up, the only evidence I found related to revenue not market share, is the reason why you didn't post any proof because there is none?

            I did find this quote from Steve Ballmer from a few years ago though

            "Forty percent of servers run Windows, 60 percent run Linux, How are we doing? Forty is less than 60, so I don't like it"
      • Hahahaha

        "The news that Linux is still not the leader in servers looks to be ticking off the usual people."


        Please cite any non-Microsoft biased sourced that does a true count of server types, world-wide. The world runs on Linux, as do most of the gadgets and devices you use every day that you aren't even aware of. The only area where Microsoft has marketshare worth touting is the desktop...but the desktop is changing, and it's likely Android will overtake Windows on mobile AND desktop in the next decade or so (just watch - the next big craze will be hybrid Phone/Desktop devices like the Ubuntu Edge).
    • LOL

      Yes, of course. Everybody is moving away from Linux, especially in the server market. Sure.
      It's Friday and you're trolling, am I right?
    • LOL

      "migrate away from their nonfunctional linux boxes"


      Um, people move from Windows to Linux...not from Linux to Windows.
  • One less reason for SJVN to complain about Windows...

    Microsoft's plan is to make Azure its biggest business...
  • Surely, this must be wrong

    We're constantly being told by regular posters in this forum that nobody uses Linux. Why would Microsoft need to improve their support for Linux, if nobody uses it? Huh...
    • Which Linux are you talking about?

      I've seen many claims that "nobody" uses Linux on the desktop but I've never seen anyone claim that "nobody" uses Linux servers or that nobody uses the #1 most malware prone mobile OS in the world - Linux.

      I've seen no evidence, 0, none, nada, zilch, that Linux has made any statistically relevant gains on the desktop.
      • the #1 most malware prone mobile OS in the world

        Android isn't malware prone, users have to install the malware themselves on Android, windows on the other hand IS malware prone, you don't have to install anything to get infected with malware on windows, but you already knew that didn't you.
        • yes android is very malware prone. thats why

          there's so much malware for it. Go to the google play store and get yourself some. Or surf the web and get hit with a drive by, no install required. Android has far more security holes than windows. And with android when google fixes one most of the phone OEMs don't give you the fix. They just tell you to buy a new phone, one with more known security holes in it. Yay.
          Johnny Vegas
          • thats why there's so much malware for it

            Nice try but you don't have any idea what you're talking about, the reason why Android has a lot of malware written for it is because it's the most popular mobile OS, it's not the OS's fault if the user installs malware after viewing the permissions the app asks for.

            Windows is prone to malware because it's insecure by design, it has to be the most insecure OS in history, over 4.5 million windows machines were infected with TDL4 in three months, a drive by that infected the MBR of windows machines, and that's just one malware example for windows.

            Just visit secunia and you will find that there are highly critical remote code execution vulnerabilities affecting multiple versions of windows, one of them has been known for over two and a half years and it still remains unpatched by microsoft, why? because microsoft doesn't care about security, it only cares about making money.
  • Quick question:

    Do the new "native mode" VM instances block Linux installations? They include UEFI emulation, after all. Is Secure Boot enabled by default on those? Can it be disabled?

    I'm looking forward to the UEFI support because it allows for better deployment testing to client machines. I want to see what they do with the next MultiPoint Server too. MultiPoint is a platform that doesn't get a lot of coverage, but it's an awesome and simple (and cheap!) way for small businesses to get into Terminal Services, or even VDI, thereby saving on client PC hardware. Similarly, it enables BYOD for small-scale deployments. For small biz clients that really need to go to BYOD/thin on-site option, I give them the choice to go subscription Terminal Services via SPLA with Windows Server 2012, or if they want to purchase outright, MultiPoint is a cheaper option than Server 2012. MultiPoint isn't available through SPLA. Server 2012 for SPLA doesn't include VDI options though, but this may start to change with Microsoft allowing hosting companies to offer virtualized desktops after Azure gets it.
    • The new uefi vm's

      Can only be used by windows 8 and up and Windows server 2012 and up. Secure boot is indeed enabled by default, but can be disabled.