Windows 7 installation under KVM hypervisor

I had to install Windows 7 virtual machine under KVM hypervisor running on Debian 6.0 host server. The goal was to use QCOW2 type file as virtual hard drive. I’m used to take advantage of available tools, so I have made QCOW2 file using:

qemu-img create -f qcow2 win7.qcow2 100G

Then I used virt-manager to setup libvirt/qemu file for the virtual machine. However it seems that virt-manager (at least the stock one from Debian stable) has problems with xml description files management. It doesn’t always properly set them up. So I have modified hard driver definition in /etc/libvirt/qemu/VM_NAME.xml by hand, changing bus type from ide to virtio, raw image to qcow2 and address type from drive to pci (this is required when using virtio driver). I have obtained an ISO image of Windows 7 Professional which I have attached to VM as IDE CDROM. So far, so good.

After restarting libvirt-bin I have launched installation of VM from virt-manager. Windows 7 setup started without any problems, but as soon as I got to drive partitioning the problems started to mount. I have downloaded VirtIO drivers from Red Hat as suggested by KVM website. I have attached drivers CD ISO to another IDE CDROM and restarted libvirt. After loading drivers in the partitioning step of Windows 7 setup, virtual drive appeared, I have created new partition, but Windows installer refused to proceed with installation saying something about “Windows will not be able to boot from this drive due to unexisting controller. Fuck you, I won’t allow you to proceed with installation” or such kind of crap.

The solution. Install on QCOW2 partition using ide bus type instead of virtio. Installation will take many hours, guaranteed. After installing, start the VM and allow it to configure everything on the first run. As soon as you see Start Menu appear, shutdown this VM immediately, so you wouldn’t have to wait until your death for Windows to install six million updates and even one more. Attach virtio CD ISO to your VM and also create additional small partition image that will use virtio bus. You can use virt-manager to do this, clicking on the VM and then in hardware setup/information tab choosing Add below the hardware list. Choose Storage, set driver type to VirtIO and create a small 1GB partition or so. Don’t care about QCOW2, it can be simple RAW image type. After doing this, start your Windows 7 virtual machine, wait until it loads and then do: Start -> right click on Computer -> Properties -> Hardware Manager. Find Unknown SCSI Controller, right click Install/Update Driver, find your VirtIO CD, go to Win7\amd64 (I’m assuming you have 64 bit virtual machine) and proceed. Windows should automatically find appropriate driver and you should see after a while that Unknown SCSI Controller is now RedHat VirtIO SCSI Controller. Also, under hard drives you should see VIRTIO IDE DRIVE – this is your new small partition. After this shutdown Windows 7 again.

Why we did this step you might wonder? Well. Windows 7 won’t let you install driver for non-existing hardware (or at least I don’t know how to do it), so we have to cheat and use a temporary decoy as a small virtio bus partition for Windows 7 to see it and install VirtIO SCSI Controller driver.

After this we can delete this temporary decoy partition and change our /etc/libvirt/qemu/MACHINE_NAME.xml file. We have to change our primary partition to use virtio bus instead of ide bus, and select appropriate address, usually type pci, domain 0x0000, bus 0x00, slot 0x06, function 0x0. If you have non standard setup look for all address tags and choose slot accordingly – usually if you have the highest number for slot on the same bus number somewhere in the file, add one and you’ll be fine. Just remember that you count in hex, i.e. if your highest slot number is 0x09 then you have to use 0x0a and not 0x10.

After doing this start your VM and there you go, Windows 7 will run much faster using paravirtualized VirtIO SCSI driver.

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One Response to Windows 7 installation under KVM hypervisor

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