Building a Hyper-V Client Hypervisor – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I published an article describing my experiment to use Hyper-V as a client hypervisor. I’m working with this laptop setup since more than two months now, using it for everything I previously did on Windows 7. In addition I’m running all my demos when visiting customers or presenting at conferences. Now I want to share some lessons learned.

I’m using the Hyper-V console session as my primary work environment. Inside this session, I installed a couple of components and runtimes.

  • Adobe Flash Player 10.2
  • Adobe Reader X
  • Silverlight
  • IntelliPoint 8.01 for Presenter Mouse 8000 used for zooming into the desktop

Network connectivity is a critical factor, requiring the installation of some additional important components when using Windows Server 2008 R2 in workstation mode. To my big surprise, these components are working perfectly well without any tweaks.

  • CheckPoint VPN, allowing me secure access to our corporate network
  • Vodafone Mobile Connect 9.3.3, allowing me to use a Huawai UMTS stick for mobile Internet connectivity

But there’s one issue I was not able to solve yet. I have an HP LaserJet M1120 printer and scanner that connects to the docking station of my HP laptop through USB. After downloading and installing the driver ljM1120-hb-pnp-win64-en.exe, I was able to print. Unfortunately, the USB scanning functionality is not available on Windows Server and until now I didn’t find any way to activate it.

Within the Hyper-V console session I installed my standard set of core applications. They are working nicely without any compatibility issues. All applications launch very fast due to the fact that they are running from the SSD.

  • Microsoft Office 2010 Standard
  • Microsoft Windows Live Essentials – Messenger, Live Mesh, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery
  • Microsoft Expression Studio 3
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2
  • Skype 5.3
  • Dropbox 1.1.35
  • Tweetdeck
  • Citrix GoToMeeting 4.5

Installing the File Server role including Windows Search Service enables desktop search which is a requirement if you want to use Windows Desktop Search and Volume Indexing in combination with Microsoft Outlook. But bear in mind that the Windows Desktop Search engine may degrade the overall performance of the system.

A smart Hyper-V network setup is critically important for a mobile demo machine and requires some extra thoughts. I configured three separate virtual networks using the Virtual Network Manager in Hyper-V Manager.

  • An external network called “External Connection”, connected to the physical network adapter (such as the Intel 82577LM Gigabit Network Connection on my HP laptop)
  • An internal-only network called “Internal Connection”
  • An internal-only network called “Wireless Bridge”

On the host (= Hyper-V console session), the IPv4 settings of the virtual network adapters need to be configured as follows:

  • External Connection: Obtain IP address and DNS server automatically (this requires a DHCP service in you corporate or home network)
  • Internal Connection: A fixed IP address such as 192.168.x.200 and subnet mask
  • Wireless Bridge: Obtain IP address and DNS server automatically

When creating a new VM all three network adapters should be assigned to the VM. By giving the Internal Connection network adapter a static IP address like 192.168.x.5, connectivity between VM and host machine is always available even when the host is not connected to any external network. The External Connection network adapter gives you access to a wired network connected to the laptop. The good thing is that all network adapters can be enabled and disabled within a VM at any time, giving you a lot of flexibility regarding network connectivity.

At this point you may ask yourself why there is a virtual network called “Wireless Bridge”. Out of the box, Hyper-V does not allow you to bind a wireless network adapter to a virtual machine. Fortunately, there is an elegant workaround although it is not officially supported by Microsoft. On the Network Connections folder select the wireless adapter and the Hyper-V internal network called “Wireless Bridge” using Control – left-click. Then right-click one of the highlighted items and choose “Bridge Connections”. This creates a new item on the Network Connections folder called “Network Bridge”. Now any VM with a network adapter that is mapped to the network “Wireless Bridge” gets access to the Internet through the wireless adapter. It’s so simple!

In summary, there are still some open issues like the integration of scanners. But overall my Hyper-V Client Hypervisor setup is perfectly suited for both work and demo scenarios.

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