Paravirtualized Network Drivers for Windows

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Introduction

In order to improve network performance, special paravirtualized network drivers can be installed in Windows guests. The Windows XP drivers are known to work also on Windows 2003 Server (also the Win7 drivers can be used for Windows 2008r2). In the iso file provided by Fedora Project the directories name are a bit confusing, since they refer to the Microsoft legacy naming (i.e. lh=longhorn, that is Vista). You can use the schema below:

OS Numeric version dir for Storage / Balloon dir for Network
W2008 R2 / Windows 7 6.1 Win7 (32/64) Win7 (32/64)
W2008 / Vista 6.0 Wlh (32/64) Vista (32/64)
W2003 5.2 Wnet (32/64) XP (32/64)
XP 5.1 - 32bit, 5.2 - 64bit WXp (32 only) XP (32/64)

For production systems (windows), the stable e1000 emulations is a good choice (the built in e1000 drivers in WinXP/Win2003 are not working, Win7/Win2008 are fine). You need the latest drivers using: Intel® Ethernet Connections CD (176 MB) or Intel® Drivers Setup File (20 MB).

A walkthrough on installing e1000 drivers in a Windows XP KVM is available here. But the link for drivers download provided in that walkthrough was broken, use above Intel Drivers File Setup instead.

Installation

Download

Download the latest drivers (ISO) as suggested by the page Windows_VirtIO_Drivers to your desktop.

Then upload the ISO to your Proxmox VE server:

  • logon to the Proxmox VE web interface
  • select a ISO-enabled storage (see Storage_Model#Storage_type_Content)
  • switch to "content" tab
  • just use the "upload" button on the menu bar.

Prepare KVM guest on Proxmox VE

Network Card: virtio
  • Shutdown your KVM Virtual Machine and change the used Network Card to "virtio".
  • Select the previously uploaded ISO image as CDROM
  • Start your Virtual Machine

Installation of paravirtualized driver within Windows

The Windows device manager should now detect a new network device. Just point the driver wizard to the CD-ROM containing the drivers. The drivers are not signed, choose install anyway and you are done.

If you get any conflicting IP errors or just want to clean up the old card, enable the devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices option on the server.

My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced -> Env Variables –> System Var -> New

 Name: devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices
 Value:	1

OK/Close all windows.

My Computer -> Properties -> Hardware -> Dev Mgr -> View -> Show hidden dev

Now locate & remove old NIC

Alternative: e1000

Windows is known to work well with the Intel e1000 network card. Please download and use the latest drivers from Intel.

Performance Improvements

The KVM Project has established a 'best practice' with regard to acheiving optimal performance in Windows guests using the virtio driver.

Permanent changes to the Windows registry are required.

The procedure is published here: http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/WindowsGuestDrivers/kvmnet/registry.

Links to similar pages