Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008
My new server for my research finally turned up from Dell. It’s a nice quiet machine and very nifty! The Vostro 400 is equipped with a Quad Core processor, 750 GB HD (with 16MB cache) and 4 GB DDR2 Ram (thanks to an extra 2GB of memory from Crucial for only 50 EUR). The entire setup came to only around 800 EUR and took 7 days from order to delivery with UPS. I don’t know if UPS are having problems with their servers or not but the tracking updates were slow, poor resolution and often 12 hours late!
Buying the memory from Crucial saved me around 90 Euro on the Dell price and while it wasn’t easy putting it into the machine (the graphics card is a full length PCIe card and blocked access to the clips on one of the memory modules) – 10 mins later it was up and running.
I have a SiteCom KVM (Keyboard, Video and Monitor) switch and it took a while to get it working with the 2 machines. For some reason I had to unplug everything from the KVM and reattach the cables to get around some start-up keyboard errors. It’s not a great KVM switch – you can only change machines by pressing a button on the box and it disconnects the keyboard/mouse from the OS when you switch – needing time for the OS to catch up when you switch back.
I don’t understand why KVM manufacturers charge so much for their kit – the Belkin KVM retails at about 150 USD (about 100 EUR) and only supports 2 devices.
So back to the new server…
The machine turned up with reinstallation disks for Vista business (which was a worry with new machines where they sometimes hide the OS on a hidden partition) so it carefree that I installed Windows Server Enterprise with Hyper-V. Some handy tips Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V can be found on Virtual Varia‘s blog, on Joe’s MSDN blog here and Virtual PC’s Blog here
The installation went without a hitch – and was fast! 10 mins and the OS was installed. The machine just whizzed through the installation and before I could finish my coffee I was playing with Windows 2008.
I made the mistake of changing the installation defaults for the OS and after adding the Hyper-V role I found the vmm service wouldn’t start. 😦 I have an Italian keyboard and while I have the OS in English – it’s a pain to try and remember the layout of the US keyboard.
A quick check on the connect forums found this was a known issue and a reinstall was required. Not a problem with this baby!
Another 10 mins later and Windows Server 2008 was installed and the Hyper-V role added. The machine just slipped through the process like a hot knife through butter – rebooting takes no time and within a minute you’ve rebooted and logged into Windows.
The Server admin with 2008 is very nice and slick – it handles like a dream and adding Roles or Features is as simple as following the wizard. In fact it’s so easy that you worry that there are other stages you need to complete. I’d like to see a little more handling of errors of failed services (such as the problem with adding the Hyper-V role I encountered – I know the locale issue will be fixed but the exception and fault finding should be in place now).
One the server was up and running it was time to create a Virtual Machine inside Hyper-V. The process was painless and transparent – just answering a few questions, attaching the boot-time ISO image to the VM and you’re off. I have to say – I was impressed. The performance of installing Windows Server 2008 inside Hyper-V was as quick as installing the OS onto the physical machine itself. You almost couldn’t tell the difference! Microsoft have revamped the interface to connect to the VM from within Hyper-V and it’s much slicker and easier. Nice menus, layout and rendering. The Q6600 quad core processor from Intel has the virtualizing extensions – which makes the performance of the Host and Client OS’s great.
I’d love to have the resources to setup a couple of these machine/OS combinations – the mind boggles at what I can do with Edge computing for the NLP & MT.
The Dell Vostro 400 performs well but there are a few corners they’ve cut that are difficult to swallow; the network interface runs only at 10/100, the max memory supported is only 4GB and the lack of firewire ports hamper the use of fast external storage.
Over the next few days I’ll finish setting up the environment I need and will update on how it goes.