Paravirtualized Block Drivers for Windows

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Introduction

In order to improve disk performance, special paravirtualized block drivers can be installed in Windows guests (also network device drivers exist, see Paravirtualized Network Drivers for Windows). In order to use them in your Windows guest VM, you have to obtain those drivers and then install them on the guest os.

KVM Guest Support Status can be found here: http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/Guest_Support_Status

Download

Download the latest drivers (ISO) from KVM project wiki downloads to your desktop and upload the ISO to your Proxmox VE server (just use the "upload file" button on the Proxmox VE web interface: "VM Manager/ISO Images"). Using the drivers prepared by the Fedora project are known to work.

Installation

The target is to make Windows install virtio drivers for all of its disks. There could be more strategies to accomplish this task:

Adding a temporary drive

see (http://www.linux-kvm.com/content/redhat-54-windows-virtio-drivers-part-2-block-drivers)

  • tested guest OSs:
    • windows 2003 r2 32 bit guest
    • windows 2000 server sp4

The base Windows OS in your guest VM knows nothing about virtio drivers, and for this reason you can't simply stop the VM, change the disk to virtio and reboot. You have to force Windows to install virtio drivers for a virtio disk (provided by PVE), how? Adding a temporary, small, virtio disk to the VM, then booting Windows and make it recognize a new disk, and ask you the drivers (which, at that moment, it doesn't know of).

  • Prerequisite: the Base Windows OS should be already running (IDE drives, usually)
  • Shut down the VM and, from PVE:
    • add a small virtio disk to the VM through PVE web interface (say, 1GB)
    • add the ISO just downloaded as a CD device through PVE web interface
    • Make shure that the primary boot device is still the old (IDE) boot disk, not the new virtio disk, through PVE web interface.
  • Boot the VM and log in as a local administrator
  • Window should detect the new disk has a new unknown device and ask you for its drivers:
    • Select No when the wizard asks you to search for the driver software
    • Select “install from a list of specific location” .
    • Select the Browse button and navigate to the driver CD
    • Select the appropriate folder for your guest version/architecture.
  • Click Next to begin the install.You will get a prompt warning about the driver not being signed. Go ahead and select “Continue Anyway”.
  • Finish then driver installation

You should now be able to enter "disk management", from windows, and initalize and format the temporary virtio disk (this is really not necessary but it will prove you that the driver is installed and running)

(Note: doing this on windows 2000 could show a strange, but apparently safe, behaviour: in the "disk management" control panel, you may see something like 8 times the drives you actually have!!! In fact, if you add 1 virtio drive, it shows 8 drives, but it's actually the same, repeated. You can in fact "sign" just the first, and then see that all "duplicated" drives are signed as well. However, the drives seems to behave and perform very well indeed. I signed, created partition, formatted, just on the first one, with no side effects, up to now. In "My computer" you will see just 1 disk, anyway.)

Now, Windows system has the virtio driver installed, and we need to convert all of its previous (IDE) system disks to virtio.

  • Shut down the VM and, from PVE and:
    • remove (from the vm, not from disk) all the (IDE) disk it had previoulsy, and
    • re-add them, in the same order, as virtio disks
    • Make shure that the primary boot device is still the old (IDE) boot disk, through PVE web interface.
  • Boot again the VM and log in as a local administrator
  • Window should detect it has new unknown devices and ask you for the drivers
    • You should have the option to use again the ISO mounted in the CD drive
    • You should also be able to tell windows to use "current" drivers, it now already has.
    • You don't need to initialize/format these drives, of course :-)

After finishing, through PVE web interface, you can:

  • remove the first, temporary, virtio disk (if you don't need that more space on Windows)
  • remove the ISO mounted as CD device

During windows installation

You can add the block drivers during install by manually adding a virtual floppy drive (vfd) to the system for the initial install as follows (thanks to meto & user100 in the forum).

First you need the virtio drivers from RedHat that can be found here: http://alt.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/virtio-win/latest/images/bin/ If you are doing VIRTIO for network (recommended), grab the ISO file as well as the vfd file.

Copy the vfd file onto the PM Host server or somewhere where it can be access from the PM Host server.

When you create the VM, set the drive type to virtio and complete the rest of the settings.

Start the system from the PROXMOX interface, but don't bother with the VNC console at this stage.

In an ssh session to the PM Host server (for your Win KVM), find the KVM process you just started by filtering on your VMID

 # ps ax | grep kvm | grep <VMID>

You need to copy the line from the output for your VM beginning from "/usr/bin/kvm". Make sure you grab the whole line except the process ID, etc.

Stop your VM from the PROXMOX interface

In your ssh session paste the copied line then add the floppy drive option : -fda /where/you/put/the/file/virtio-win-<version>.vfd

As an example this restarts a created KVM on my system with the floppy installed

 # /usr/bin/kvm -monitor unix:/var/run/qemu-server/1086.mon,server,nowait -vnc unix:/var/run/qemu-server/1086.vnc,password -pidfile /var/run/qemu-server/1086.pid
    -daemonize -usbdevice tablet -name Win2K3_Base -smp sockets=1,cores=1 -nodefaults -boot menu=on -vga cirrus -tdf -localtime -rtc-td-hack -k en-us
    -drive file=/mnt/pve/ISO/WIN_2K3_SP2.iso,if=ide,index=2,media=cdrom -drive file=/var/lib/vz/images/1086/vm-1086-disk-1.qcow2,if=virtio,index=0,boot=on 
    -m 512 -netdev type=tap,id=vlan0d0,ifname=vmtab1086i0d0,script=/var/lib/qemu-server/bridge-vlan -device virtio-net-pci,mac=2A:D2:74:78:2E:E1,netdev=vlan0d0
     -fda /mnt/pve/ISO/virtio-win-1.1.16.vfd

Once you enter your command the KVM will start & you will see the system "running" in the PROXMOX interface. Now open the console. The standard boot sequence for a new KVM seems to be HDD - Floppy - CD, you can change this but it's just as easy to reboot using the Ctrl-Alt-Del button in the console, use F12 to bring up a boot selection window & boot from CD.

Once windows starts to load, press F6 to get it to look for extra drivers to load. It will automatically load the floppy & away you go.

Note that the virtio drivers aren't windows logo signed so you need to tell the system to continue to load the drivers.

More information on floppy drives can be found here : http://www.linux-kvm.com/content/block-driver-updates-install-drivers-during-windows-installation

And in the forum here : http://forum.proxmox.com/threads/3711-Floppy-support-hack

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