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Hyper-V and Branching Virtual Machine Snapshots

So I have discovered what is potentially the coolest feature in Hyper-V.  So by now, you should be aware of the ability to make snapshots of your virtual environments.  This in and of itself is really nice.  However, there are some really awesome options with what you can do with these snapshots that make Hyper-V even more functional.

Imagine that you're doing a high-risk deployment to a production virtual machine. Things should go fine, but there's that chance that it doesn't.  How hard is it right now to clean up all those changes and revert?  Well, instead of doing that, take a snapshot of the VM right before you deploy.  If the deployment goes sideways, revert to the old snapshot and you're back in your old production environment in less than a minute. That's a lifesaver to someone like me. 

Let's take it a step further.  Let's do this in the development VM, but when things go sideways, let's also take a snapshot of the failed deployment before we revert.  Now make configuration changes and try to deploy again.  Let's say the deployment keeps failing, and you keep snapshotting.  You now have a branched set of snapshots that you can compare.  Maybe there's a common thread you overlooked before, but now you can track down. Better yet, you can almost instantly swap between all of your snapshots without having to take down the VM each time.

The fact that you can now branch snapshots of your VMs is a massive help to development environments, but also is great for IT.  Being able to set multiple configurations of a testing server allows infrastructure wonks really optimize new servers and services before they ever get into production.

So let me know, how do branching snapshots help you and your environment?

Posted by Wayne Walton on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 10:10 AM
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Moving Virtual Machines to Server 2008 and Hyper-V

Now that we've upgraded our VM infrastructure to Hyper-V, I thought I'd write up some of our experiences.  Trenton has already gone over some of the more technical details, like getting Debian configured, but I thought I'd start with the biggest potential hang-up I saw.  Simply put, if you're moving some old Virtual Server 2005 VMs to Hyper-V, there's to things you need to take into account:

  1. Uninstall the VS 2005 extensions from the client VM.
  2. Be prepared to reactivate Windows on the client VM.

Really, those are the only two things I found that are really important.  Everything else is really details.  Even though it's only in Release Candidate status right now, Hyper-V is already immensely better over Virtual Server 2005.  The VMs are faster, they're easier to manage, pretty much everything works better.

Posted by Wayne Walton on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 10:30 AM
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Hyper-V Miscellaneous

So I've been working on getting 2 VMs setup in Hyper-V today, a Windows 2003 server and a Debian Server.  Below are the issues I ran into and how to solve them.


Windows Server 2003 Standard

The main issue I ran into here was the inability to run the full Microsoft Update web site.  Basically when I clicked on Custom update, it would process for a while then end with an 0x80072ee2 error.

To fix this you have to disable TCPIP offloading.

  1. Run->regedit
  2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters
  3. Add a REG_DWORD key/value pair:
    1. DisableTaskOffload = 1

Restart and you'll be able to access Microsoft's updates again.


Debian 4.0R3

The problem I ran into here, is that Debian does not detect the default Hyper-V virtual network adapter.  To fix this you'll need to go to you're VM's Settings page.

  1. Select the network adapter and delete it
  2. Select the Add Hardware option
  3. Add a new Legacy Network Adapter
  4. Modify settings on this as needed

You'll now be able to install Debian on the VM, and the installer will detect the network adapter


kick it on

Posted by Trenton Adams on Friday, April 11, 2008 3:58 PM
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