Next-gen virtualization from Microsoft
Preview: Microsoft's Hyper-V platform has an easy install, wizard-based VM creation, a few rough patches, and a couple of hard edgesFollow @pvenezia
While the two VMs were building, I explored the system a bit, specifically Server Manager and the iSCSI Initiator, in order to mount an iSCSI LUN for the VMs. This led me nowhere. Although I could successfully discover and log on to the iSCSI LUN, opening Disk Manager to partition and format the volume locked the application up tight. For a period of five minutes, I could communicate with the server, but all VM activity was frozen, and the Server Manager was completely unresponsive. Manually ending the process did bring the server back, but I couldn’t use the iSCSI LUN. In subsequent testing with the system quiescent and no iSCSI LUN mappings, the same scenario occurred consistently: Trying to run the Disk Manager resulted in a lockup.
So I scrapped the iSCSI idea, and went right for the management tools. The Hyper-V management console is laid out fairly well, although it’s certainly a departure from Microsoft’s normal management interfaces. It provides easy access to pertinent management tools for the server itself and the VMs running on the system. The dashboard shows all configured VMs and their state, as well as some limited performance data, and a recent screengrab of the server’s console window.
Speaking of console windows, don’t expect to manage VMs in Hyper-V from an RDP session, as VM console mouse support is basically nonexistent via Remote Desktop. It’s hopefully going to be possible to manage the server using the Hyper-V management tools installed on another system. However, I wasn’t able to test this on 32-bit Windows XP because the only code currently available is x64, and it won’t run on a 32-bit platform. In production, installation of the management tools on a workstation is probably going to be the only feasible method of administering VMs.
My personal hotkey hangups
While working with the management tools, I was constantly annoyed at the method of releasing input focus on the VM. VMware’s Ctrl-Alt hotkey for this action is embedded in my brain, and other hypervisors use the same hotkey specifically to fit that reflex. Microsoft uses the Ctrl-Alt combination, but also throws in the left arrow, requiring two hands to release the mouse from the VM console. This may seem like a minor issue, but it raised my ire many times while I jumped in and out of VMs during installation. There is a facility in the Hyper-V Manager to change this hotkey, but it offers only four choices, and all are as bad or worse than Ctrl-Alt-Left Arrow.
Another ubiquitous hotkey, Ctrl-Alt-Delete, works differently for VMs. Hitting that combination to log into a VM will result in the server itself capturing the keys rather than the VM, so to pass that through to the VM, it’s Ctrl-Alt-End, versus VMware’s Ctrl-Alt-Insert. Again, it’s a little thing, but highly annoying when doing lots of work on multiple platforms. It would seem to me to be worthwhile for Microsoft to use existing popular hotkey combinations rather than force their own.