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Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

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  • Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

    I want to replace several computers with one powerful Hyper-V Server machine. The idea is to have a DC, XP workstation, Vista workstation, Windows 7 workstation etc as VMs under Hyper-V Server.

    But I don't see how to use the host's display in the VMs. I read that the microkernelized architecture requires each VM to have its own drivers, but Integration Services deals with the shared hardware - all except the display!

    Am I being very stupid, in that Hyper-V offers ONLY RDP?
    Or do I have to buy Server 2008 with Hyper-V (or Virtual PC) to get what I want?
    Hyper-V Server 2008 has a very attractive price?

    If MS doesn't do it, is there a 3rd party piece that could connect the Hyper-V host hardware display to a VM running under the same Hyper-V?

    Thanks for any help

  • #2
    Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

    Originally posted by peterp View Post

    Am I being very stupid, in that Hyper-V offers ONLY RDP?
    Or do I have to buy Server 2008 with Hyper-V (or Virtual PC) to get what I want?
    Hyper-V Server 2008 has a very attractive price?

    If MS doesn't do it, is there a 3rd party piece that could connect the Hyper-V host hardware display to a VM running under the same Hyper-V?
    I may be way off the mark, but is this what you are looking for? It is Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager.


    • #3
      Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

      Virtual: thanks for the suggestion, but it's not what I'm looking for.

      I can manage the Hyper-V server and the VMs adequately with the VMM MMC add-in that runs in Vista or Server 2008.

      What I want to do is enable a VM running under Hyper-V to get access to the display of the Hyper-V (i.e. the Vm's host) server.

      The more I read, the more I believe that it's not within the design brief for Hyper-V, and therefore impossible. It seems that Hyper-V server display is considered incidental, there is no GUI and therefore no requirement/ability to install display drivers.

      But I can't help feeling that if Hyper-V doesn't want to use the display, then why couldn't a VM use it. In fact, I could put a second, simple display adapter in the server just for Hyper-V console. But it seems that although Hyper-V is proud of its small footprint and rather direct link between VM and hardware, it still wants to control all communication between a VM and the hardware.

      I'm starting to look at VMWare ESXi, but I think it will suffer the same restrictions. I guess I'll have to use a GUI version of Windows as my host OS, and run Virtual Server or Virtual PC.

      I suspect I'm not alone in my desire.
      As a one man organisation, I only need one display (even if it may be extended on to two screens), but I need

      a production server
      a daily workstation
      E-mail and file sync for a notebook (i.e. Exchange Server and offline files),
      Several VMs, one each commonly found OS (XP, Vista, Linux) etc

      and I'd like to keep my electricity consumption as low as feasible.
      So virtualisation definitely appeals, and I need breadth of feature support in the VM (i.e. graphics, USB devices...), but I don't have the performance requirement of running a virtualized server with thousands of Exchange clients on a mission-critical setup.
      This turned into a longer post than I intended. My apologies if it's considered off topic, but one thing leads to another.
      Last edited by peterp; 7th March 2009, 11:08.


      • #4
        Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

        If you don't have a Windows 2008 Server and 64 bit platform, it sounds as if you may have to do so.

        Will this only ever be an environment just for yourself?


        • #5
          Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

          Hyper-V is 64bit only (unless I'm mistaken), so I've already taken that step, and willingly.

          Essentially I work alone, but I spend a lot of time at my clients, often using my notebook (hence the need for Offline files and Exchange to provide both Outlook and OWA depending on where I am)
          My server provides email service only to my family, but also it is a media server for home and a remote access gateway.

          Currently I have about five computers to provide testbeds for the common OS's. I don't really have the office space (or I'd rather use it for other things!) and my electricity bill just keeps increasing. I really want to do something to reduce the footprint.

          One of my most used computers is coming the end of its (reliable) life and I decided to replace it with something capable of running everything (I guess this gets us to the beginning of my story...!)

          I bought a desktop with Intel Core i7 (920) on Gigabyte GA-EX58-DS4 with 3x2GB memory. Together with a Radeon HD4670 video card, three 1TB 7200rpm SATA drives in RAID5 (motherboard provided), a DVD-RW and 500W low noise power supply it cost me USD 1350 excluding local taxes. (For convenience I've converted to USD at the current rate). I think it's a good deal, and the overclocking reputation of this motherboard could give me a boost in a year or so.

          You can tell I'm not an "Enterprise Data Centre" type of person!
          I'm just a simple support and consulting guy. Most of my clients are 1 to 20 people running similar systems to myself - which is why I want to be able to test them. Fortunately, as a Microsoft registered partner (the lowest level) I can benefit from the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription service to get, for example, Server 2008 and others, at an affordable price.

          After that rather long background explanation, you can see that *I* can quite easily use Server 2008 as the base, but that's quite a big step up in cost when I propose it to my clients.

          In fact my next decision will be which Server 2008 to run! I currently run Server 2003 SBS. It's a great deal for small companies because it includes Exchange and Sharepoint, but it is a pain when you want to replace the hardware, due to the constraint that SBS wants to be THE Domain Controller in the network, so no backup DC or trust relationships (at least not long term). I like to use it to maintain 100% compatibility with my customers, so logically I would now move to Server 2008 SBS. But for myself it would be easier to go with the unfettered Server 2008 Standard which would allow me to mount VMs that are also DC's for backup and test.

          Do you share any of my circumstances/requirements, or meet them at work or with clients? If so, it would be nice to share them, but in that case maybe we should start a new thread away from the display adapter theme.


          • #6
            Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

            Certainly do.

            Sounds to me that you will have Windows 2008 Server Standard Edition. This will either be with hyper-v or without. The hyper-V add on is a free download. Therefore, it will be a GUI interface. Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 does not have a GUI and is a free download as well and effectively will be installed in place of your Windows 2008 server with Hyper-V.

            You can carry out a swing migration to SBS 2008 from SBS 2003. Also, you can add another DC in to the SBS 2003 and 2008 domain. Providing you use the forest prep and domain prep tools from the install disk, you can DCPROMO the other w2k3 or w2k8 OS to a DC in the SBS domain. It's just that the FSMO roles must remain on the SBS box.

            Real world example of mine. We wanted to move to a standard edition of windows and one of my clients had SBS 2003. We had Exchange and not SQL on the box.

            We purchased a Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition transition pack that made it cheaper to allow us to move to a standard domain but still use SBS licenses, so we could install Exchange on another server. I wanted to upgrade to 2008 server eventually, so also purchased necessary licencing for another 2 servers through Open License agreement and purchased sofware assurance. I ensured the licensing covered Exchange 2007 and allowed w2k3 to initially be used before upgrading.

            Firstly, I installed another DC in to the SBS domain. This would be used as a backup.

            Backed up all my data and Exchange databases on the SBS box.

            I then started the transition out of hours.

            The transition box broke SBS. At one stage, I got the BSOD during one of its reboots and to cut a long story short, all my efforts of getting back in to it failed. Only one thing for it, a reinstall.

            So I did the following.

            Seized the FSMO roles to the w2k3 R2 DC.

            Made sure it was a GC.

            DNS was already installed and AD integrated.

            DHCP was already installed on it.

            Removed all metadata for the old SBS box.

            Removed appropriate DNS entries of the old SBS box, as well as the appropriate SRV records.

            Removed apropriate items in AD Sites and Services.

            Reinstalled the SBS box with w2k3 R2 Standard edition.

            Reinstalled Exchange 2003 (had media and license key sent with the transition pack)

            Tweaked some permissions for Exchange, so the new server was known to AD and Exchange.

            Mounted the mailbox stores I had copied from the SBS box when the stores had been dismounted.

            Added the appropriate groups to the security tab of Exchange for the mailbox store.

            Domain fully functional to clients once again.

            BTW, I also called the server the SBS name as it ensured clients would automatically map to Exchange.

            I then made one of my other servers a DC that was laying around as a spare.

            After the network had settled down for a few weeks, I then demoted the main DC with FSMO roles but first transferring roles.

            Installed Exchange 2007.

            Made sure SPNs were reset, so they weren't pointing to themselves anymore, with it having been a DC.

            Transitioned to Exchange 2007 and removed Exchange 2003 from the organisation.

            Wiped the Exchange 2k3 Server and then installed it as a DC. Installed DNS and made it a GC.

            Next phase, in the Summer, will be to upgrade to w2k8 R2 as I want to get hyper-v up and running with HA (High Availibility) for Hyper-V itself, the actual VMs and the services within the VMs.

            Not sure of your hardware availability but I would have thought similar could be achieved using VMs.
            Last edited by Virtual; 8th March 2009, 19:59.


            • #7
              Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

              Thanks for the great checklist! I've done a few Swing migrations of SBS, but I'm especially interested in your comment about the exact conditions for two DCs to coexist. I'll take some time to think that through so I fully understand it.
              And yes I guess I can do it all in VMs.
              Elsewhere in this forum ( elmajdal references virtualpc-guy's blog on the Domain Controller Dilemma at Very interesting, and clearly reasoned!

              There might not be much demand, but I'd like to see a hypervisor that could reserve hardware for exclusive allocation to a VM.
              And it reminds me how I misunderstood Figure 2 in Rajiv Arunkundram's article "An introduction to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008" (
              where he shows Hyper-V (i.e. the microkernelized hypervisor) with all the device drivers in the VMs. I had interpreted that to mean the VM could use real device drivers. Now I realise the VM must use the IC (integration components) drivers!

              I guess I'm going to do something really bad! That is to use my Server 2008 install as my workstation too. And then use VPC for all the testbeds. Still thinking that one through too!


              • #8
                Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

                Thanks for your comments Peter. Not sure where you are based but if you have chace, attend one of Technet's Virtualisation unplugged events.

                Slides for it are here.


                One of the best presentation I have been too since the Exchange 2007 unplugged event.

                I have started to carry out vast research in to Virtualisation tecnologies as it is a growing trend.


                • #9
                  Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

                  What a goldmine of information! I've been busy reading. And I'm dangerously close to going off on so many tangents...

                  In the Virtualization Unplugged Keynote, around slide 9 and 10 I went on a loop of several hours reading about Millenials. A totally fascinating intro to our future. Special interest to me as a parent of GenX-ers and Millenials, the husband of a teacher of Millenials, and I have many Millenial clients. So there was timeout to read Claire Raines' "Managing Millenials" (
                  But I'm going to be banned if I don't get back to the subject!

                  I'll look out for this MS roadshow. Late last year I did attend the MS Web Roadshow which included virtualisation, but more from the cloud perspective. And of course the main topic was web hosting and services.

                  Couldn't help but remember slide 14 in the VU keynote ("Wherever I connect my laptop, that's my office")! Clive's apologies should really go to Marvin Gaye, rather than Paul Young, but that's being a bit pedantic.
                  For me, the words to the song are like Hyper-V speaking:
                  "By the look in your eye I can tell you're gonna cry, is it over me?...
                  You had romance, did you break it, by chance...over me?"

                  Hyper-V is really a great product - but not for the single box, multi-use development/production powerhouse that I want for myself.
                  But I'll be following developments closely. Thanks for your time to help me think.
                  (and fyi I'm in western Switzerland)


                  • #10
                    Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

                    Good luck with your deliberations. Hope it goes well and keep us informed. PM me to let me know what you go with, if it's not relevant to a particular post.


                    • #11
                      Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

                      Just a quick update to let you know what I decided to use and how it's going.

                      I'm running Windows Server 2008 Standard, as the host OS. I deliberated over Virtual Server and/or Virtual PC but then added the Hyper-V component to host all my VMs.
                      That all went very smoothly - as easy as a Microsoft demonstration! I have two network cards, so decided to keep one for server administration and create a Virtual External network on the other - for VM external links to the rest of my network and the internet.

                      Since then I've created a Windows 7 Beta VM and a CentOS VM (both 64bit). I'm in the process of getting the CentOS VM to work and I'm reading Julian Field's excellent "how to" page on his blog at
                      At least I could install and start CentOS without the integration components - but it doesn't recognize the devices (video, network etc) so I can't go any further without the integration components.

                      Next I'll install the Web-in-a-box VM from MS, since I want to compare this to a CentOS LAMP installation.

                      Since my first objective was to save power (and learn about VMs) I still want to use the video card I have in the new server. It's not very expensive, but nevertheless that's why I've chosen to run Server 2008 as the host OS. The ATI 4670 chip on the ASUS EAH4670 card (about $90 in Feb 2009) is said to give over 8 Gigaflops per watt, compared with 2.6 Gigaflops per watt for the 3650. With Hyper-V server I'd lose all that power, now I can use it in one OS (the host). Seems a shame to waste all that video recoding capability!

                      If I run into any major, or interesting, problems I'll let you know.


                      • #12
                        Re: Using the Hyper-V server display in a VM

                        Thanks for the update and glad to hear it has gone well.