Frequently asked questions for SQL Server on Linux virtual machines

Applies to: SQL Server on Azure VM

This article provides answers to some of the most common questions about running SQL Server on Linux virtual machines.

If your Azure issue is not addressed in this article, visit the Azure forums on Microsoft Q & A and Stack Overflow. You can post your issue in these forums, or post to @AzureSupport on Twitter. You also can submit an Azure support request. To submit a support request, on the Azure support page, select Get support.


Azure maintains virtual machine (VM) images for all supported major releases of SQL Server on all editions for both Linux and Windows. For more details, see the complete list of Linux VM images and Windows VM images.

Every two months, SQL Server images in the virtual machine gallery are updated with the latest Linux and Windows updates. For Linux images, this includes the latest system updates. For Windows images, this includes any updates that are marked as important in Windows Update, including important SQL Server security updates and service packs. SQL Server cumulative updates are handled differently for Linux and Windows. For Linux, SQL Server cumulative updates are also included in the refresh. But at this time, Windows VMs are not updated with SQL Server or Windows Server cumulative updates.

To see the SQL Server packages that are installed by default on SQL Server on Linux VMs, see Installed packages.

Yes. Azure only maintains one image per major version and edition. For example, when a new SQL Server service pack is released, Azure adds a new image to the gallery for that service pack. The SQL Server image for the previous service pack is immediately removed from the Azure portal. However, it is still available for provisioning from PowerShell for the next three months. After three months, the previous service pack image is no longer available. This removal policy would also apply if a SQL Server version becomes unsupported when it reaches the end of its lifecycle.


How do I create a Linux virtual machine with SQL Server?

The easiest solution is to create a Linux virtual machine that includes SQL Server. For a tutorial on signing up for Azure and creating a SQL Server VM from the portal, see Provision a Linux virtual machine running SQL Server in the Azure portal. You also have the option of manually installing SQL Server on a VM with either a freely licensed edition (Developer or Express) or by reusing an on-premises license. If you bring your own license, you must have License Mobility through Software Assurance on Azure.

Why can't I provision an RHEL or SLES SQL Server VM with an Azure subscription that has a spending limit?

RHEL and SLES virtual machines require a subscription with no spending limit and a verified payment method (usually a credit card) associated with the subscription. If you provision an RHEL or SLES VM without removing the spending limit, your subscription will get disabled and all VMs/services stopped. If you do run into this state, to re-enable the subscription remove the spending limit. Your remaining credits will be restored for the current billing cycle but an RHEL or SLES VM image surcharge will go against your credit card if you choose to re-start and continue running it.


How can I install my licensed copy of SQL Server on an Azure VM?

First, create a Linux OS-only virtual machine. Then run the SQL Server installation steps for your Linux distribution. Unless you are installing one of the freely licensed editions of SQL Server, you must also have a SQL Server license and License Mobility through Software Assurance on Azure.

Are there Bring-Your-Own-License (BYOL) Linux virtual machine images for SQL Server?

At this time, there are no BYOL Linux virtual machine images for SQL Server. However, you can manually install SQL Server on a Linux-only VM as discussed in the previous questions.

No. You cannot switch from pay-per-second licensing to using your own license. You must create a new Linux VM, install SQL Server, and migrate your data. See the previous question for more details about bringing your own license.


Can I manage a Linux virtual machine running SQL Server with SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)?

Yes, but SSMS is currently a Windows-only tool. You must connect remotely from a Windows machine to use SSMS with Linux VMs running SQL Server. Locally on Linux, the new mssql-conf tool can perform many administrative tasks. For a cross-platform database management tool, see Azure Data Studio.

Can I remove SQL Server completely from a SQL Server VM?

Yes, but you will continue to be charged for your SQL Server VM as described in Pricing guidance for SQL Server Azure VMs. If you no longer need SQL Server, you can deploy a new virtual machine and migrate the data and applications to the new virtual machine. Then you can remove the SQL Server virtual machine.

Updating and patching

How do I upgrade to a new version/edition of the SQL Server in an Azure VM?

Currently, there is no in-place upgrade for SQL Server running in an Azure VM. Create a new Azure virtual machine with the desired SQL Server version/edition, and then migrate your databases to the new server using standard data migration techniques.


Are SQL Server high-availability solutions supported on Azure VMs?

Not at this time. Always On availability groups and Failover Clustering both require a clustering solution in Linux, such as Pacemaker. The supported Linux distributions for SQL Server do not support their high availability add-ons in the cloud.