Archive for November, 2008

Hyper-V: problems and solutions

Windows Server 2008

Hyper-V is the new hypervisor based virtualization solution from Microsoft. The product is targeted mainly for the data centers for server consolidation. I have been using it since the day it became RTM and am really impressed by its performance and stability. There are some minor issues which is acceptable as the product is still young. I have a Intel Core 2 6420, which has the Intel-VT extension required for Hyper-V and 4 GB of ram sufficient enough for running a single guest. Hyper-V is supported only on windows 2008 server 64 bit edition.

Installation Steps

These are the installation steps for installing Hyper-V

  1. Check if your processor supports either Intel-VT or AMD Pacifica extensions.
  2. Install Windows 2008 server 64 bit edition.
  3. Install all the updates.
  4. Add the role Hyper-V using server manager.
  5. Install updates for the Hyper-V role.

Now you are all set to install you guest operating system. Run the Hyper-V manager application to manage your guest operating systems. Create a new virtual machine and setup different properties like memory, number of processors etc.. If you are planning to install your guest operating system from network make sure that you add a legacy network adapter as the guest operating system wont be having drivers at install time for the normal network adapter. Once you are done installing the guest operating system install the integration services from the settings menu of that virtual machine. Installation of integration services is highly required for better performance and also getting remote desktop to work.

Issues

1) No audio on the virtual machine. How to listen to your favorite mp3’s ?

The first thing that you might notice is the lack of Audio device. Hyper-V is for running multiple servers on a single physical machine. Not many people play mp3’s on a production server, I suppose. So how do we get audio to work on your virtual machine ???

The solution is simple. Don’t use the hyper-v manager to connect to the guest operating system. Instead enable remote desktop on the guest machine and use mstsc to connect to the guest. If you are using windows 2003 as the guest you still find that the audio doesn’t work. There are couple of setting that you need to make to get audio to work. First thing is to change the windows audio service startup to automatic from disabled and start the service. This can be done by running services.msc from the run dialog. Next, you have to fire tscc.msc from the run dialog to change a couple of terminal services settings. In the connection tab, double click on the Rdp-tcp row to get the properties tab. Unselect the “Audio Mapping” option there and save the settings. Remember you have to logout from that session and start a new session for the settings to take effect. Of course simpler thing would be to reboot the guest. Connect again to the guest and enjoy your favorite mp3’s …..

2) Unreadable/fuzzy  text on LCD monitors if you are using remote desktop

So you think you solved your hyper-v problems by connecting using mstsc instead of the hyper-v manager,  then maybe you are using a CRT monitor or you have never seen cleartype in action. Yes, font smoothing doesn’t work with RDP if you have either windows XP or windows 2003 as the guest OS. And if you have a LCD monitor like me, you know how much pain in the *** it is to work on a LCD without font smoothing. So now you have to fix this cleartype issue.

Microsoft has finally issued a Hot fix for this feature at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/946633. Download the fix and install it. You have to reboot the machine for the fix to work. Also make sure the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\TSEnableFontSmoothing is set to 1.

3) Strange cursor problem and fix

Also, when I used to connect to guest machine using the hyper-v manager instead of remote desktop client, I faced a weird problem with my mouse cursor. After using the guest machine for sometime may be a couple of hours the mouse pointer becomes fixed meaning that it doesn’t change depending on the thing beneath it. It sometimes becomes a wait cursor, sometimes a small dot and like that. This is quite frustrating while you try to re-size windows or frames as you cannot make whether you are at the proper point to re-size the window. Luckily after using remote desktop to connect to the host this problem also is solved.

Hope these solutions fix some of your hyper-v problems.

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