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Stable use of Windows 7 Guest VM on Fedora?

asked 2015-11-17 15:10:05 -0500

ceres2009 gravatar image

updated 2015-11-17 18:55:58 -0500

mether gravatar image


i'm working in a company which allows any Laptop, as long as there is an encrypted windows 7 installation for the standard tool stack of the company. Nowadays i use dualboot Windows 7 64Bit (work)/Fedora 23 (private) on a Broadwell Laptop. Under Win with VMWare Player for several virtual machines eg windows server 2012, fedora workstation 22/23, ubuntu 14.04.x LTS. This is a quite stable solution (yearly reinstall of Win7 aside).

I've seen lots of other people bringing in their shiny MacBooks with VMWare/Fusion Windows Guests in. I'm thinking, that the same would be possible with Fedora 23 as a host OS, and the rest virtual, freeing me from dual booting.

I was wondering weather someone is already using this scenario permanently in their _work_life?

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I don't see why this wouldn't be possible. Under Fedora you can run any OS (incl. Win 7) in virtual machines using KVM or Virtualbox or ...

But if is was mine, I would not go for Fedora as the host OS - in my opinion it is too much fast pace, and you are looking more for stability than bleeding edge. (You can still run a current Fedora release as a guest). I would recommend CentOS (likely release version 7)! (Or even RHEL - you get a nice support!)

florian gravatar imageflorian ( 2015-11-19 11:09:41 -0500 )edit

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answered 2015-11-19 03:01:45 -0500

pnadk gravatar image

I know of a colleague who does work for different clients and creates a virtual machine for each of them. So it is definitely possible. I am using a Windows virtual machine in VirtualBox on a server that needs to run a legacy Windows application. It is tricky to set up VirtualBox to autostart and auto shut-down when the server boots, but it can be done. The problems could be that accelerated graphics is not working and the virtual disk you create for the Windows guest never seems to be big enough. I have been using VirtualBox for a while so I tend to stick with that, but you should try Fedora's built in Qemu/kvm as well as VMWare to see which one works best for you.

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KVM is IMO superior to VBox as support is native and does not rely of 3rd party packages. There is a difference between the "free" products *VMWare and Vbox") and the commercial versions. As you use this laptop for work I highly advise RHEL. If you are willing to pay for Windows and Mircosoft support (sounds as if you are using windows professional and not windows home) you should, IMO, be willing to pay for Linux (RHEL) support as well ;)

bodhi.zazen gravatar imagebodhi.zazen ( 2015-11-19 10:18:13 -0500 )edit

hi i am willing to pay for RHEL (or use CentOS, to try before buy), if i find a stable solution. However as i'm using a new broadwell chipset laptop i suppose i need a kernel around 4.2 or lots of backports. In the meantime i tried qemu/kvm oob and have to say: it was the fastest windows install _ever_, but i'm not yet satisfied with the lack of snappiness with virtual mouse and graphics. For what i understand it uses vnc for the interface which is quite laggy. Need to check if it already uses virtio, where possible.

ceres2009 gravatar imageceres2009 ( 2015-11-26 15:41:22 -0500 )edit

Use spice for your graphical display

bodhi.zazen gravatar imagebodhi.zazen ( 2015-11-27 09:35:09 -0500 )edit

i've tried KVM with QEMU and put spice on the virtual W7 machine and mouse/gfx works like a charm.

Thanks bodhi.zazen for the spice tip! Now i'm gonna try it in the long run parallel to my normal environment. Have to make some tests how it impacts battery etc. and then see how it's running in everyday life.

ceres2009 gravatar imageceres2009 ( 2015-11-30 15:11:05 -0500 )edit

answered 2016-02-15 17:59:22 -0500

ceres2009 gravatar image

Hi, just to sum up, I switched End of 2015 and have some experience since 1,5 months now. As already written, kvm + spice makes a smooth solution, with some remaining flaws, which could also result from lack of trying.

  1. A running virtual machine takes about ( Intel i5 5200U) 10-15% additional CPU Time. Compared to ~7-10% for fedora alone.
  2. VPN and WWAN are operated through Fedora (fine)
  3. Could not get any passed through USB Storage device to work on W7. It's not recognizing the device. My actual workaround is a samba server. (bad)
  4. The W7 guest has no powersaving at all. Maybe 1. results from this fact (bad)
  5. No working possibility to "pause" the VM, then pause F23. guest has to be shut down. (bad)
  6. Some graphical issues in VM with Text Buttons (ok)
  7. Wired Network performance seems to be limited to ~20MB/sec (USB2?!)
  8. in general i had 3 freezes of the whole system in 1,5 months.
  9. USB3 results in non booting guest
  10. The balloon memory driver is still untested by me.
  11. Also backup of the VM is done "manually" by copying the .qcow files. (a diff backup would be better)
  12. This scenario seems quite exotic, so there's not much you can find in the net to solve issues.

So at the moment it is a stable solution, which works quite well for light roadwarrior use. And if i can solve 2 & 3 & 4 in the not to distant future it will be a good permanent working solution.

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Did you use the spice-guest tools or the virtio disks ? They contain the appropriate drivers for alot of things, including the usb pass through thing. Also you might need to set some hardware in virt-manager (usb redirector) to make it work..

power savings are done withing Linux, not your windows vm.

collen gravatar imagecollen ( 2016-03-23 08:38:44 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2015-11-17 15:10:05 -0500

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Last updated: Feb 15 '16