Linux JeOS variants under Microsoft Hyper-V, Virtual Server and Virtual PC

So I’ve been looking at the various Just Enough OS (JeOS) options that are optimized for virtualization purposes - primarily to see what currently works under the MS VHD-based virtualization hosts (who knows about Windows 7 though…), using Virtual PC 2007 as the compatibility baseline. I’ve also taken Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.0 out for a spin on some of my VHDs that work with the Virtual PC baseline (though noting that I’ve had real trouble with Windows-based VHDs under xVM VirtualBox similar to those reported here). 

I’ve found that:

  • the ability to disable any Physical Address Extensions (PAE) (Virtual PC and Virtual Server cannot use more than ~3.6GB RAM) and Paravirtualization (at least for the type 2based Virtual PC and Virtual Server) options in both the JeOS installer and in the JeOS kernel is a must.
  • if you want network connectivity (it escapes me how a JeOS VA would be of much value without), support for the tulip/DC21x4NIC driver (Intel/DEC 21140 network card used by Virtual PC) is required in both the JeOS installer and the JeOS kernel. Additionally, if you’re interested in executing the VHD under xVM VirtualBox support for any of AMD PCnet PCI II, AMD PCnet-Fast III, Intel Pro/1000 MT Desktop, Intel Pro/1000 T Server cards is required.
  • the JeOS must also support operating on a machine that has a PS2-based mouse.
  • the JeOS must support a S3 Trio 64 display adapter, which (in the case of Virtual PC emulation) doesn’t support 24-bit color mode (only 1,2,4,8,16 and 32-bit). xVM VirtualBox emulates a standard VESA display adapter. 
  • the JeOS must support IDE disks for Virtual PC 2007 usage.

 

Ubuntu Server Edition JeOS

8.04.1

Getting past an an issue with the paravirtualization extensions was easy enough (search on “noreplace-paravirt” ). However, even though the install ISO includes the required tulip networking support, once installed there is no tulip NIC support in the installed Ubuntu-virtual kernel.  Having hit this I found that there has already been a bug raised regarding this issue in July 2008: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu-jeos/+bug/247942

Unfortunately this rules Ubuntu JeOS 8.04.1 out currently as a quick/easy Virtual PC VA base for MS virtualization targets.

8.10 JEOS vm-builder

This script/tool lacks support for MS VHD images https://help.ubuntu.com/community/JeOSVMBuilder: “The currently supported hypervisors are KVM, Xen and VMware.” . I might check to see if I can successfully convert a generated VMWare image at some point based on 8.10 using WinImage or Vmdk2Vhd… though may well have the same issues with lack of the tulip NIC driver.

 

rPath

Offers a commercial rBuilder set of tools for building VAs and a community rBuilder Online offering (though whatever you do using this facility is available for free to anyone).

Formally supports Microsoft Hyper-V (http://www.microsoft.com/virtualization/partner-profile.mspx?id=32). I’ll have a  check to see if this extends to Virtual PC baseline by attempting to download/install the Foresight-based Gnome Live VHD and the rPath ISO images.

I also note that rPath have an agreement with Novell for supporting SUSE Enterprise VA’s from their rBuilder.

[Gnome Live VHD: update] Virtual PC load required use of i8042.noloop kernel boot option due to use of a keneral with an issue with some PS2-mice. Adding to /etc/grub.conf fixes mouse issue perminantly. Also noted no CD/DVD drive support. Running the modified VHD under Sun xVM VirtualBox worked nicely (it was also arguably more responsive).  

 

Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS

Novell/Microsoft have formal support for SUSE under Hyper-V (http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2008/sep08/09-10MixedSourcePR.mspx). Novell is also undertaking a SUSE Appliance Program based around their SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS beta that will have support for Hyper-V (http://www.novell.com/de-de/news/press/novell-announces-suse-appliance-program).

Novell note their commitment to the community supported LimeJeos also – however I’m not sure if this extends to Hyper-V support.

 

OpenSUSE LimeJeos

Will try an OpenSUSE-based LimeJeos install in the near future.

 

RedHat Appliance OS

“Coming soon” with stated support for Hyper-V. Wonder if this will go as far as Virtual PC support?

 

Orange JeOS

CentOS based, indicates VMWare Server and Xen support. Will give it a swing soon…

 

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