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Ok, we all know (or should know) that Microsoft's answer is a plain "NO!".

But we also know that recent hypervisors can support nested/recursive virtualization, provided the underlying CPU offers hardware virtualization; VMware's recent products (ESXi 5, Workstation 8) even support this natively, without the need for ugly hacks.

So, my question is: can Hyper-V run succesfully (i.e. allowing to actually run virtual machines) inside other hypervisors?

If yes, which ones? And how?

This is only intended for testing, of course.

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possibly within kvm/HVM or xen_pv, but why would you want to, its just asking for pain –  anthonysomerset Oct 18 '11 at 17:40
e.g. for testing purposes. –  Mircea Vutcovici Oct 18 '11 at 17:46
I know it's been done with ESXi as Hyper-V parent, but it's ugly slow. Sorry, don't have a link to directions. –  Chris S Oct 18 '11 at 18:00
What kind of a test would actually be valid in this environment? –  Jake Oshins Oct 18 '11 at 19:58
In order to set up a test Hyper-V cluster, you need at least three physical servers; that's usually not something you can get your hands on easily. –  Massimo Oct 18 '11 at 20:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, it can, if the underlying CPUs support the latest virtualization extensions (Intel VT-X/EPT) and if you're using the latest VMware products (Workstation 8, ESXi 5).

The relevant settings in your VM should be as follows:

monitor.virtual_mmu = "hardware"
monitor.virtual_exec = "hardware"
vhv.enable = "TRUE"
hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = "FALSE"

The first three settings can be enabled via GUI (where exactly varies slightly between Workstation and ESXi), the last one needs to be manually added to the VM's .vmx file.

Additionally, on ESXi 5, you need to add the following line to /etc/vmware/config:

vhv.allow = "TRUE"
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Was this found by trial and error or can you point us to the source, which might have more information of interest to those considering doing the same? –  John Gardeniers Oct 19 '11 at 9:58
There are various sources on the web, all confirming the same steps and settings; nothing official, though, neither from VMware nor from Microsoft (which still says this is not possible at all). –  Massimo Oct 19 '11 at 10:39

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