Checking Hypervisor status with PowerShell

Image courtesy of Serge Melki

I needed to find a quick way to see which hypervisor was installed.  I bounce between different development machines and some have Hyper-V enabled and some have Intel’s HAXM driver installed.  Both assist with virtual machines, but they can’t be used together.  I used to be 100% Hyper-V with running virtual machines and Android emulators.  The Microsoft Android Emulator used to be very good, but is suffering from a fair amount of bit rot.  In the meanwhile, Google’s Android Emulator has gone from being a great of sitting and watching something load very slowly to a tool that that you can use in real time.

Microsoft’s Android Emulator requires Hyper-V and Google’s Emulator really needs HAXM in order to have any level of performance.  Since I bound around from machine to machine (with the occasional repave), I wanted a quick way to see which hypervisor is installed.  Hyper-V requires a some work to turn on and off. HAXM is a kernel driver.  So I wrote a quick PowerShell script to report the status of each Hypervisor

$services = 'intelhaxm', 'vmicheartbeat'

$d = [System.ServiceProcess.ServiceController]::GetDevices() | ? {
  $services -contains $_.Name
}

$s = Get-Service | ? {
  $services -contains $_.Name
}

$d
$s

The first line just defines an array of names to match one. The next block of code uses GetDevices() to return the status of the HAXM driver. The block that follows returns the status of the Hyper-V Heartbeat Service. The last part just dumps out the results.

An alternative way is to pass the service name to Get-Service and it will return the status for the specified service. The problem is that it will error out if the specified service does not exist. And while that error message is a status report, it’s an ugly way to get that information

I named the script “hyper-stat.ps1” and when I run it on a machine with HAXM running, I get the following output

.\hyper-stat.ps1

Status   Name               DisplayName                           
------   ----               -----------                           
Running  IntelHaxm          Intel HAXM Service 

On a machine with Hyper-V and no HAXM, I get this

.\hyperv-stat.ps1

Status   Name               DisplayName                           
------   ----               -----------                           
Running  vmicheartbeat      Hyper-V Heartbeat Service    

If I disable Hyper-V, I would get the following:

.\hyperv-stat.ps1

Status   Name               DisplayName                           
------   ----               -----------                           
Stopped  vmicheartbeat      Hyper-V Heartbeat Service             

There are few ways of scripting this task. This one was simple and I have it on the machines that I use for coding.

Edit: Right after posting this, I realized it didn’t actually work. I was originally reporting on the status of vmms, the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management Service. If Hyper-V is installed, that service will always be running, even when Hyper-V is not enabled. The Hyper-V Heartbeat service is a better test for seeing if Hyper-V is enabled.

Getting the most out of VMware Fusion 8.5 running Windows 10

I’ve been trying to get the most performance out of my Window 10 virtual machines running on my MacBook Pro through VMware Fusion. I have a Windows 10 virtual machine that I use for software demos and testing beta versions of Windows. It’s been running much slower than you would expect on a 2 3 year old MacBook Pro with a quad core i7.  I’ve collected the following tips (the sources are listed at the end) and they have improved the performance.

From the MacOS Side

Exclude the virtual disks from Time Machine backups.

You’ll want to avoid trying to back up the virtual machines by Time Machine.  If Time Machine is trying to back up the virtual machine while it is being used, it will probably fail to perform the backup and it will definitely throttle the disk I/O.

  • Run the Settings App
  • Open “Time Machine”
  • Click the “Options” button
  • Under the “Exclude these items from backups”, click the “+” button.
  • Select the Virtual Machines folder.  By default, this will be located in your documents folder.  Once you have selected the folder, press the “Exclude” button.
  • Press the “Save” button

If you are running an anti-virus application on your Mac, make sure that it is excluding the Virtual Machines folder

From the Virtual Machine Side

With your virtual machine stopped, you can make some system changes to achieve better performance.  Within Fusion and with the virtual machine open (but not running), open the Settings dialog.  You’ll want to make the following changes:

  • Open “Display” and clear the “Accelerate 3D Graphics” checkbox.
  • Open “Processors & Memory”
    • Set the number of processor cores to a value of n-1 or less, where n is the number of actual cores on your Mac.  My Macbook Pro has a quad core i7, so I run with 2 cores assigned to the virtual machine.
    • Give the virtual machine as much ram as you can, but without starving the host OS.  My Mac has 16 GB, so I split it 50/50.  If you have less memory, remember to leave at least 2 GB to the MacOS OS.
    • Open Advanced Options and select “Enable hypervisor applications in this virtual machine”
  • Open “Hard Disk (SCSI)”
    • Open “Advanced options”
    • Set bus type to SCSI
    • Set “Pro-allocate disk space” to enabled.

There are some settings that are not directly exposed through the settings dialog.  You’ll need to modify the .xmx file directly.  There are a couple of ways of getting at the .vmx file, the clearest technique is documented on the vmguru.com page: “Modifying the .vmx file step-by-step”.

  • Change ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000e” to ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet3”
    This will change the default network adaptive to an enhanced driver
  • Add the line scsi0:0.virtualSSD = 1
    This will optimize disk I/O for SSD drives.  Only use this if your MacBook has a SSD drive
  • mainMem.backing = “swap”
    May speed up memory swap files
  • MemTrimRate = “0”
    Disable memory trimming, less overhead for the Fusion memory manager
  • sched.mem.pshare.enable = “FALSE”
    Turns off memory sharing between virtual machines
  • prefvmx.useRecommendedLockedMemSize = “TRUE”
    Speed up I/O at the cost of increased memory usage in the host OS
  • MemAllowAutoScaleDown = “FALSE”
    Prevents Fusion from attempting to start the virtual machine with less memory than specified.  This can trigger Windows activation.
  • logging = “FALSE”
    Disabling the logging should speed things up a bit

If you don’t need snapshots, remove them.  When you use a snapshot, disk I/O is parsed through each snapshot.  That will show things down.

 

Resources for these suggestions

  1. VMware Performance Enhancing Tweaks (Over-the-Counter Solutions)
  2. Making Windows 10 inside VMWare Fusion 8.x a bit quicker on OSX 10.11 El Capitan
  3. How to Fix Slow Windows VMs on VMware Fusion 8.x
  4. Excluding the Virtual Machines folder from being backed up by Time Machine (1014046)
  5. Troubleshooting Fusion virtual machine performance for disk issues (1022625)