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Red Hat Pledges 'Integrated Virtualization' 91

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-people-in-the-drivers-seat dept.
OSS_ilation writes "Red Hat was all about virtualization in a recent announcement for an 'integrated virtualization' initiative with XenSource and chipmakers AMD and Intel. The move was seen as a way for Red Hat to bring its commitment to virtualization technology into 'sharper focus [...] with the release of a product roadmap that includes virtualization technology built into its enterprise version of Linux.' Red Hat's CTO, Brian Stevens, said the move would remove the complex 'rocket science' aspect of virtualization, and drive the technology into more enterprises as a result."
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Red Hat Pledges 'Integrated Virtualization'

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  • Wasn't virtualization supposed to go into the kernel at some point? I was under the impression it got delayed for some reason. Anyone know the status of it? Is the virtualization in the kernel what Red Hat are going to use to provide this?
    • it already is. (Score:5, Informative)

      by nietsch (112711) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @08:26AM (#14923123) Homepage Journal
      Only the technology is named User Mode Linux (UML) instead of Xen. Xen still requires you to jump trough quite a number of hoops before you have a virtual machine running. With UML it is so simple you can start, stop & create new ones on demand like is done at linuxzoo.net [linuxzoo.net]

      With xen you need a modified host kernel and do some tricky stuff with LVM to use Copy on write disks. With lvm it is the default, you can just point to a base image and have the users modifications in a separate file. The downside is the speed penalty: UML is 40-50% slower than Xen.
      • Re:it already is. (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Xen is way more flexible and has way greater performance than UML. Although you do have to patch the kernel in order to use Xen, your comment could be interpreted as if you were *forced* to use LVM and COW with Xen. This is, however, misleading - neither of these possible options are /default/.

        Your 40-50% figure is also highly misleading. When operations are I/O-bound, UML can lose to Xen by a factor of 100, but when it's CPU-bound, the overhead of either method is neglegible.
        • ok, since you did not understand the first time round: show me the command to use a copy-on-write disk with the filesystem in base.img.
          That you twist the advantage of COW into 'COW is hard but you don't have to use it' is your own special debating style I guess.
      • Re:it already is. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eno2001 (527078)
        For all intents and purposes Xen is the far better solution. I was looking for an alternative to VMWare and I did look over UML. The slow performance of UML alone was a major issue for me and I'm certain a lot of other people here would agree. Plus a lot of us aren't just virtualizing dumb services like Apache. We're virtualizing PVRs, Asterisk PBXs and GNOME or KDE application servers. Xen does that without breaking a sweat. It might be a bit more difficult to set up (not that hard if you know how to
        • Re:it already is. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hackeron (704093)
          What are you talking about? - XEN is /*virtualization/*, sure its more than an advanced chroot, but it lacks security because there is no real isolation from the underlaying kernel and it requires you to jump through hoops to get going (ok, nice that Redhat bundle it, true).

          UML on the other hand is /*emulation/* -- its like comparing wine to vmware. Apples to Oranges.

          UML has far superior isolation from the underlaying kernel, it runs entirely in userspace so no jumping through hoops, and it is the same spee
          • Re:it already is. (Score:2, Interesting)

            by eno2001 (527078)
            Most Linux users aren't running mission critical servers, but are doing much more interesting things. True, Linux is my choice of OS for running web servers, mail, DNS and the like, but that's hardly important stuff. The really interesting stuff is to be had in the multimedia and desktop arenas and that's where Xen is truly the better performer. I'd far rather run my home remote desktop server on Xen and be able to have my desktop ALWAYS on via VNC even if I have to take the hardware down rather than hav
  • Sweet (Score:3, Informative)

    by maelstrom (638) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @01:51AM (#14922169) Homepage Journal
    No matter what the haters say, Red Hat is one of the main distributions I go to when building a new server (CentOS if no support needed). Things like integrated SELinux, easy to use yum (or rpm apt-get), and now virtualization make it very impressive.
    • Re:Sweet (Score:1, Troll)

      by 0racle (667029)
      Except that Virtualization on Linux was almost always as easy as on Windows, unless for some reason you use Xen. If they really wanted to remove the 'rocket-science' aspect from virtualization they would simply strike a deal with a company that has a mature virtualization product. However, that doesn't make Red Hat look like some industry leader in the area as virtualization as saying they're going to take an OSS product and create some group around it.

      Red Hat and Xen - World leader in virtualization as
      • Re:Sweet (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maelstrom (638)
        What are you even talking about? VMWare? It isn't open source.
        • and above that, vmware does emulation, not virtualisation.

          vmware emulated all hardware so that you can run every os under it. virtualisation means that the host and the client are almost the very same thing and share almost everything. this is much faster then the emulation approach but also more complicated to implement.

          the disadvantage of virtualisation is that the client will have to be modified.

          and surely there is currently no simple way to do that in linux that I am aware of.
        • > VMWare? It isn't open source.

          That doesn't mean that its not freely available.
      • Re:Sweet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gordyf (23004) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:16AM (#14922392)
        Red Hat and Xen - World leader in virtualization as long as you only want to run Linux or BSD.

        According to Wikipedia's Xen article [wikipedia.org], Xen will work with any OS if you're using a recent AMD or Intel chip with virtualization extensions, so that's not strictly speaking true.

  • What is this? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @02:14AM (#14922232) Homepage
    I'm sorry, obviously I don't need it, because I don't have a clue what it is. What is this "virtualization"? Linky, please?
  • Except can hope for death. From TFA:
    "With Fedora Core 5, we will take the rocket science of virtualization away from the end user and get virtualization out-of-the-box experience in their hands," Stevens said.

    Where it will promptly mutate in to a flesh eating form of virus, obliterating you, your family and your dog.

    A word to the wise; Stay away from fedora cores. If you must use one, choose one that's been out for a while. Trust me; You'll be glad you did.
    • Hhmm. You must know something I don't. I have been using Fedora full time on servers, desktops, workstations and laptops (not all at one time) since Fedora Core 2. I currently have FC5Test3 installed on a spare machine. I can handly use Windows anymore since it lacks so man features that I have grown accustom too. (I know this has little to do with Fedora specifically).
    • by ettlz (639203) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @06:30AM (#14922881) Journal
      A word to the wise; Stay away from fedora cores. If you must use one, choose one that's been out for a while.

      You sound like a bitter, bitter Slashdotter.

      This "Fedora's a beta testbed for suckers" stuff is utter crap. Fedora is a testbed not for stability, but for cutting edge technologies that may filter down into Enterprise many months later. And from what I hear, FC5 will introduce some exciting new things. The stuff that goes in isn't generally any more unstable or poorly-built that the pristine sources from which it derives, plus you've got the support of the community and the Bugzilla.

      The Fedoras are nice, powerful distributions. Far nicer (and to be honest, I think more polised) than Enterprise. For me, they've got the right balance of modern usability and technical accessibility. Yes, I like cutting edge.

      • I've been using the FC5RC3 on a test system which uses Xen for a wacky combo of MySQL, and PHP that some groupware requires which conflicted with the standard Core packages.

        From what I've seen in going from "Rolling Your Own" to the FC5 distro, is that Fedora got it RIGHT on this one. "It Just Works" for me.

        When the host machine gets rebooted, it doesn't even reboot the Guests. They just get suspended, and resumed when the machine comes back up.

        Two Thumbs Up.

  • Red Hat + Xen (Score:5, Informative)

    by plasticsquirrel (637166) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @02:23AM (#14922251)
    From what I gathered from the article, it looks like Red Hat is porting their distro to the Xen virtual machines and then packaging that with the natively-compiled OS as a virtual machine manager. It's nice to see a distro pick up Xen officially and package it an easy-to-use way, since Xen has very impressive performance. The article or the summary probably should have included a link to the Xen web site, so if you want to know more: the Xen site [cam.ac.uk].
    • Ahh, that makes more sense. I remember that Xen had natively compiled OS's in order to make use of some of its features.
    • since Xen has very impressive performance.

      I disagree. Where did you get that information?

      I ran unixbench in a hosted Xen and it took ten times as long as on my workstation at home. So no, I don't think the performance is very impressive. I do think the rest is impressive, though.

      • Re:Red Hat + Xen (Score:3, Insightful)

        by raynet (51803)
        Sure, but you shouldn't be using Linux at all as it is so slow. I just did a benchmark on my Sun Ultra 1 (143MHz Ultrasparc) running Linux (and there was couple other CPU intensive programs running the backround too, but why should they affect the results) and it was much much slower than the same benchmark on my Windows PC (3GHz P4).

        In any case, do a benchmark with your workstation using Xen and without Xen. Remember to test VMWare or UML too. THEN you can say if Xen is impressive or not...
      • Huh? You ran a benchmark on two different hardware systems and you're using *that* to compare the difference in *software* configuration? Do you really need someone to explain to you why that makes no sense?
        • No need to get pedantic. The difference was 10 times as slow for the hosted Xen. Now I agree that there are loads of assumptions here, but I just wondered where the poster got its information from.
  • by tinkertim (918832) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @02:24AM (#14922254) Homepage
    I'm wondering if they aren't just going to Include Xen, this would explain the sudden push on Xen's part to get a working FC4 installer out the door.

    I'm not the world's biggest RH fan as far as using it, however I do respect that RH basically made Linux the household word that it is.

    The end result, regardless of the politics is going to be web sites and databases remaining available to visitors a larger percent of the time, and end users getting a firmer grasp on how their OS works :) Either way you go this is going to be a good thing.

    For consultants specializing in helping to bring virtualization to the table for their clients, fear not .. people are going to need help with this for years to come. I think it will help us do what we like doing (plan networks) instead of worrying so much about the semantics of getting (x software) installed and working. This means easier work, quicker turnover and more clients.

    My concern is RH distributes (stock) very insecurely. My hope is they also address issues like /dev/shm allowing execution, and other (seemingly) little quirks that allow so much spam to wind its way throughout the internet. They're catching up, it seems with just how people are using their product, hosting web sites (broadly). I hope they also make it safer in the process so that whatever layer they use for virtualization doesn't also get a rep for being insecure.

    I'm not a huge Fedora fan, but I do respect them enough to withold judgement until I see what they put out. I guess you could count me as 'cautious, but anxious' to see it.

    • I'm not the world's biggest RH fan as far as using it, however I do respect that RH basically made Linux the household word that it is.

      Really? And IBM had nothing to do with it?
      • Good point (and my bad for the sweeping statement). IBM did have quite a bit to do with it.

        I had an old Think Pad , my first Penguin Laptop. It played a little sound byte when booting (RH7) :

        "I'm Good Enough, and I'm Smart Enough, And Dog Gonnit, People Like Me!"

        On airplanes I used to mouth the words as it played, and it (usually) got me a bit more leg room as the person next to me would generally move after giving me (and my odd looking screen) a strange look.

        But the topic was Red Hat, and moderation has b
  • by Grumpy Wombat (899702) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @02:38AM (#14922294)
    This is great news. I'm currently involved in a rollout of Red Hat Enterprise for a large Govt Department in Western Australia and we have had to make extensive use of VMWare's ESX. Having Xen in RH would streamline our development process and make a Red Hat ES development environment more attractive for large enterprise use.
  • I'm currently using Virtuozzo (based on OpenVZ) for my website (in my sig) on top of Red Hat...works great. If Red Hat integrated Xen into their OS, that would be even more convienent for webmasters like me :)
  • by linuxguy (98493) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:02AM (#14922357) Homepage
    A couple of months ago I was faced with the problem of needing to host multiple domains on one system. I initially considered Xen for my virtual servers need. However when I learned that this solution would not share the memory (each Vserver would have to have its dedicated memory) I decided to try out Linux Vserver [linux-vserver.org]. I have been a happy user of Linux Vserver since then.

    With Linux Vserver you only run one kernel on your system where with Xen each virtual server runs its own kernel. This presents some limitations for Linux Vserver. For example the guest virtual servers cannot have the network loopback interface lo. But almost all of these I could live without.

    Now if I want to start adding more virtual servers I can, without having to worry about running out of memory.
    • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:51AM (#14922494)
      There is a paper where the authors used Xen in a manner in which they copied the image of the running OS. A copy on write police was implemented, so RAM usage would be minimal. They got Xen to scale to thousands of virtual servers on some form of relatively reasonable hardware.

      It is worth noting, though, that this is part of the point of what Xen is. Xen is a VMM, and part of the point is that you virtualize the machinery so you can run multiple OS's and such. This really is the direction that everything is going. The technologies that you can build on top of this are very... convenient.
    • With Linux Vserver you only run one kernel on your system where with Xen each virtual server runs its own kernel. This presents some limitations for Linux Vserver. For example the guest virtual servers cannot have the network loopback interface lo. But almost all of these I could live without.

      To me, one kernel is an advantage, not a limitation. A kernel upgrade on a VServer box is a one-step operation, whereas on a Xen (or like) you have to repeat it for every guest.

      Also a great thing about VServer is

      • To me, one kernel is an advantage, not a limitation. A kernel upgrade on a VServer box is a one-step operation, whereas on a Xen (or like) you have to repeat it for every guest.

        Not quite. Unless your guests use different kernels (in which case you wouldn't be using VServer anyway), you only have one guest kernel to worry about. I have a Xen machine running 4 Debian Sarge machines - in the boot directory of the host there is the host kernel and a guest kernel. All guest instances boot off that one guest kern
  • if someone sais `virtualization` one more time i will virtually throw up. virtually.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    On the wiki xen site it says,"Xen trades full OS binary compatibility for comparative simplicity and improved performance"

    Anyone know which part of the full OS binary compatibility was traded?
    • by Al Dimond (792444) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:41AM (#14922631) Journal
      To put it simply (I don't know the more in-depth stuff off the top of my head) Xen won't run an unmodified x86 OS as a guest (DomU). Instead of actually emulating the physical devices it provides ways for the guest OSes to request services from it through specialized "drivers", for one thing. Once the kernel/driver work is done, however, the fact that you're running under Xen does not affect your userspace apps.

      So you can only run operating systems that have been modified to run under Xen. So far Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD and Plan9 have undergone modification, at least according to http://wiki.xensource.com/xenwiki/OSCompatibility [xensource.com]
      • by buddha42 (539539) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @10:44AM (#14923726)
        This is no longer true with the use of Intel's VT or AMD's Pacifica CPU features. Xen originally had to have this OS-level hack because of limitations of the x86 architecture making it impossible to completely virtualize. Intel and AMD have solved this. You can buy Pentium 4's with VT *right now* and run un-modified windows guest's on Xen. The AMD M2 and the next set of Intel chips (the core/core-duo's desktop and server cousins) will all support this.
        • I haven't really been able to find much information on this, so maybe you know: with Xen 3 and the VT extentions does the guest OS still need special drivers? It seems to me that there would still be a performance advantage to having special drivers rather than having to virtualize devices. But maybe there's some clever trick in the VT extensions that I'm not taking into account.
  • Xen works with any OS as long as either the kernel has been modified to fit virtualization, or the processor has extensions that support it directly. So either way, Xen allow just any old system, though it isn't tied to a particular platform.

    Just a word of caution though: Xen is "new technology," which basically means it isn't the most stable product right now, especially given its level of technical sophistication. Similarly, the new processors from AMD and Intel are, well, new; they will requi

  • I have been thinking that it would be interesting to have virtualized operating systems running over a distributed system. All the resources of the distributed system could then be shared amongst the hosted OSs. You could move resources from one hosted OS to another as needed. If things are too slow, just add another system in the distributed system and its resources help the hosted systems.
    -Ack
  • I'm a Linux user who occasionally boots a Windows machine just to view/print a Word doc or Powerpoint. They always seem to look like ass in Open Office.

    What VMM should I be looking at, vmware, Xen, or something else?

    • I thought at first you wanted full-system emulation, so that's why I mentioned QEMU. If you specifically want "only Office" and not a full Windows session, there's Wine (winehq.com). Office runs integrated in the Linux desktop then. Compatibility varies from version to version, but tends to get progressively better. Personally, I only tried Wine with Word Viewer (the free download from microsoft.com) and that was many years ago; on my non-thorough tests it worked perfectly even back then.

      There's a company w
    • Hey, I had the same issue as you (Linux User trying to boot a Windows machine in order to use MS Office applications). I actually found a relatively new virtualization program called Parallels Workstation. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money since I wasn't going to be running Windows too often, so I was hesitant to buy VMware's version, since it costs close to $200! Parallels only costs $49, and you can download a fully functional 45-day trial version from the website ( http://www.parallels.com./ [www.parallels.com] Aft

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