This weekend I setup Hyper-V on Windows 10. Hyper-V is Microsoft’s product for running a Hypervisor on Windows. It is available with Windows 10 Professional and earlier versions but not Windows 10 Home.
I wanted to setup Hyper-V to get more experience with virtualisation. The hypervisor runs on the host operating system or infrastructure and is used to create virtual computing instances. This can include processors, RAM, disks and switches.
The hypervisor is the key to offering cloud computing which can be provisioned at scale. There are other offering such as Oracle’s Virtual box and VMware but I chose to start with Microsoft’s Hyper-V which is part of Windows 10.
There are several options already pre-installed for Ubuntu Linux and Windows 10 demonstration. You can also download create a Windows 10 image for installation using the tool provided by Microsoft. Of course you will need a valid license to install this as the client Operating System (OS).
The hardware and operating system that the hypervisor runs on is called the host. I had upgraded a gaming Personal Computer (PC) before setting up Hyper-V. This included a larger 500 Gb Solid State Drive (SSD), 2 Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) with 1Tb each and 8Gb extra Random Access Memory (RAM) for 16Gb. All of these components were left over after upgrading the Dell G3 laptops but I bought an extra 8 Gb RAM.
I also installed a new WiFi card in the spare PCIe slot on the motherboard. This was because my brother warned me that the network setup was tricky unless you had separate Wifi for the host and clients. He was right about that and it took awhile to get the virtual machine running windows to connect successfully through the spare D-Link wireless n USB.
Once installed Hyper-V can be used to create and run Virtual Machines (VMs) which are known as the clients. There are several uses for VMs including running a different or older OS and trialling new software applications without affecting the host computer. One of the main advantages is that the VMs can be easily modified or deleted. Checkpoints can be used to save a version of the VM that you can easily return to if something goes wrong.
As mentioned above, the main difficulty I had was connecting the client and the host to my WiFi network. This was overcome by having a separate WiFi connection (with their own physical WiFi switch) for the host and the client. That should not be necessary but was the most reliable way I found to do it.
The other issue I had was changing the default directories for storage of the VM configuration files and virtual disks. I had set these up on one of the older HDDs but this slowed down performance. Moving the VM back to the faster SSD restored performance similar to the host which I had just upgraded.
The main issue I had with the host PC was reinstalling a clean copy of Windows. There is a reset option in Windows 10 recovery mode which worked well enough on a Toshiba laptop that I was configuring at the same time. However this would not complete installation for the gaming PC. Eventually I created a new image with the Microsoft tool mentioned above which enabled a clean install of Windows 10.
So I was able to setup Hyper-V and create a working Windows 10 instance running on my upgraded gaming PC over the weekend. It was a good start and now I am ready for the next step which is installing Kali Linux to setup a security lab at home.