Surface Pro and Hyper-V

So I  find myself in the IT job market after 19 years in a structured (ish) Windows enterprise environment; one finds that many companies want some kind of Linux experience.  Although I am not a fan, I have had various distros on all kinds of different hardware to stay in the know.  Hey, I wasn’t a fan of OS/2 either but had to support it 🙂 Anyways I figured if I am going to play, I might as well take it with me.

Hyper-V, the son of Virtual PC 2007, is MS’s virtual machine service that is part of Windows 8 Pro, Server 2012 and Server 2008.  It is a feature that all you have to do is turn it on.   Hyper-V requires hardware (CPU/MOBO) that supports Virtualization, a good chunk of RAM and some disk space.  This post is about the Hyper-V on the Surface Pro with it’s i5 Intel and 4G of RAM.  I have 64Gb model so I have my SD card mounted to hold my VMs.

I’m not going to get into the installation of guest OSes as that can get a little weird and your tastes will vary.  I will point out how to turn the feature on.  If you have played with VMs before you know you need an ISO file (or DVD) for the OS, then you need to capture it to the VMs CD drive or point to it during VM creation.

Turn on Hyper-V on your Surface Pro.

  • Open the Charms menu, choose Search
  • Enter Turn Windows Features in the field and click on Settings, Click on Turn Windows Features On or Off in the results area.
  • Find and Select Hyper-V, all choices under Hyper-V will be selected by default.
Enable Hyper-V
  • Click OK.  The Feature will be installed and you will be prompted to restart your Surface Pro.  Restart the Surface.

That’s it.  You will now have a Tile on the Start screen labeled Hyper-V Manager.  This will take you to the Hyper-V Manager in Desktop mode.  From there you can create, manage and run your VMs.  I’m actually liking this new iteration by Microsoft.  It is pretty straight forward.  Microsoft OSes are a breeze to create VMs provided you have a dvd or iso file for the OS, the Linux distros your results will vary…Microsoft has a list of Supported Linux distros (not very big) but they say just because it isn’t listed doesn’t mean it won’t work.

Change your Hyper-V settings to Store your VM disks to your mounted SD Card.

If you are running a 64Gb Surface Pro like me you will want your VMs to be stored on the mounted SD card. Each VM will grab 10Gb+ of space in the blink of an eye.

Under Hyper-V Settings change the path for Virtual Hard Disks and Virtual Machines to point to a location on your mounted SD card.

Actions > Hyper-V Settings
Change the location of Virtual Machines

My first test was a openSUSE 12.1 distro in a VM. It was not a walk in the park.  I found it would not install with the default network adapter in the VM.  Again, I really didn’t want to get into the Guest OS installation thing but will tell a finding when trying to install openSUSE 12.1 in a VM.

In Hyper-V manager I had to create a Virtual Switch.  Then removed the default network adapter from the VM that I was creating for openSUSE; I then added a Legacy network adapter that pointed to the Virtual Switch in the VM that I was installing openSUSE.  Once I got the network adapter thing straightened out, the OS installed in the VM.

openSUSE running in a VM on the Surface Pro

Performance is actually pretty decent.  Compared to my AMD Phenom 9850 quad core desktop with 8Gb of RAM, VMs on the Surface are a tad bit sluggish.  I have had a couple system crashes with openSUSE 12.1 which is not one of the distros in MS’s supported list. I’ll have to play a bit to see if it is a configuration issue.

Bottom Line is that Hyper-V works and is usable on the Surface Pro.


5 thoughts on “Surface Pro and Hyper-V

  1. Pingback: Linux on the Surface Pro | The Surface Pro BlogThe Surface Pro Blog

  2. Rick

    Question: Can you remove it without any issues? I been reading elsewhere that it isn’t as simple as enabling/installing it.

  3. carlo alberto spinicci

    Thanks. Your post gave to me the necessary hope when I was about to give up. After a number of failures I discovered my mistake. My SD card was formatted as an exFAT volume. After reformatting it as NTFS everything went smooth.

  4. Raqoo

    I think that SD card is not best one to use hyper-v. I have USB3 hub and 1Gb USB3 disk, it gives fast system to install anykind OS to hyper-v. I have also old Surface Pro and the 4Gb memory is biggest limitation.

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