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Novell Defends 'Unstable' Xen Claims 132

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the good-to-go dept.
daria42 writes "Novell has fired back at Red Hat's claims that the open source Xen virtualization software is not yet ready for enterprise use. 'We had all the major hardware partners that had virtualization hardware like IBM, Intel and AMD. They all stood up and said "Yes, this technology's ready, and we fully support deployments based on Xen and in combination with SUSE Linux Enterprise 10."', Novell's chief technology officer said today. 'So I guess the other vendors would not do that if it weren't ready.'"
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Novell Defends 'Unstable' Xen Claims

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  • bah, fuck red hat.

    xen rules, and will only get better with time. it's like 'mainframes for the masses'.

    glad to see some corporation backing it up.
    • Sorry but the parent post is not a troll. Some moderator who is either lacking in knowledge or is genuinely an idiot either equated "fuck redhat" with "fuck linux" or just doesn't understand what Xen does. Xen is an amazing tool and I've been using it both at home and here at work in production using both Fedora Core and Gentoo as "host" and "guest" OSes. The main poing is that saying "fuck redhat" doesn't mean that the poster dislikes Linux. It means that one particular Linux vendor is not in his good
      • hehe mods here are real pieces of work.

        anyway, xen is an amazing tool to build a poor man's mainframe if you will use the OSes that have been hacked to run on it (linux, bsd, plan9...). With this new 'vt' technologies being put out by intel and amd, it will even be able to run windows (and anything that runs on a x86) without hacks.

        altough it is hardly 'innovation' (ibm has done this stuff like, forever), mad pr0pz to the xen guys for bringing this to the mundane x86 world.
  • My next systems will be based on either intel's virtualization or AMD's Pacifica. If the software isn't perfected yet, then it will be cleaned up soon enough to be tremendously useful to me. And that is what drives my dollars to a specific vendor.
  • US-based startup? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:19AM (#15888162) Journal
    From TFA:
    Xen, primarily developed by US-based start-up XenSource
    Looking at the XenSource web site, they have three offices, two in the US and one in the UK. Considering that they are a spin out from Cambridge University (in the UK), developing software originating in Cambridge University, calling them US-based seems highly misleading.
    • Note to self: Close tags needs a / in them.
    • 60% of their startup is in the U.S. Most of their customers are in the U.S. How is saying they are primarily based in the U.S. misleading?
      Regards,
      Steve
      • It doesn't say "primarily based", it says "primarily developed by US-based". If they started in the UK and their HQ (or equivalent) is in the UK, then I'd say they're UK based.
    • It gets better.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by T-Ranger (10520) <[jeffw] [at] [chebucto.ns.ca]> on Friday August 11, 2006 @10:48AM (#15889029) Homepage
      Initially a Windows software company, Novell turned to Linux-based software when it completed the acquisition of SUSE Linux in 2004.
      <nelson>Ha, hUh?</nelson> Novell was, if anything, initially a hardware company. OK, that Novell dosent count, Novell was initially network OS company (Netware), that supported primarily DOS! Ok, that doesnt count either: Novell was a focused on enterprise network services, with integrated directory services backed management. OK, no one knows what that means: Novell was focused on identity, asset, file and print, software and configuration services and management. Begining in the early 2000's, porting their products to both run on, and manage, linux systems, Novell entered the market full force when they aquired SUSE ..... But a Windows software company? WHAT IN THE FUCK?
      • "Novell was focused on identity, asset, file and print, software and configuration services and management."... which worked on Windows and, for most of Novell's history, only Windows or DOS. Client for NetWare servers- Windows. Managewise- Windows. BorderManager clients, asset management (Zen), groupware clients- all Windows. Other than a couple of brief forays into OS/2 and Mac, developing client software for anything other than Windows is very new to Novell.
        • The quote was initially a Windows company. Novell initially sold CPM hardware. What became Netware was a CPM disk sharing system, and was first developed as the IBM PC was just being shipped -- Novell purchased the first PC in Utah. If "initially" means "within the first 15 years", then yes, Novell was "initially" a Windows software company. But were not talking astronomy here, were talking computers. The history of Netware dates back to before DOS was shipped.
    • Looking at the XenSource web site, they have three offices, two in the US and one in the UK. Considering that they are a spin out from Cambridge University (in the UK), developing software originating in Cambridge University, calling them US-based seems highly misleading.
      XenSource is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. That makes them US-based.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:20AM (#15888166) Homepage Journal
    Opening a portal to Xen could cause a resonance cascade.

    Dr. Isaac Kleiner has been warning us about this for years.
  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:24AM (#15888175) Homepage
    Besides Xen, a few other interesting tidbits appear in the article, but are missing from the summary (and, were also missing in the post on Digg... suspiciously).

    1. All desktops in Novell have been using OpenOffice for a year now.

    2. 80% of desktops in Novell now use Linux (I presume the remainder use Windows).

    3. The article mentions some explanations for the recent personell changes in Novell. Not much content, though, just "we are in a different place now and need different people" (where have I heard that before).
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:31AM (#15888204) Journal
      All desktops in Novell have been using OpenOffice for a year now.

      This is very important. Novell is the second largest contributor to OO.o (behind Sun, who still do about 80% of the work). Unlike Sun, however, Novell is primarily working on dogfooding issues. People within their organisation say 'I need this feature,' and they implement it. Better VBA support, for example, is a Novell focus area. They also work a lot on the UI and are responsible for the new build system (I'm not sure if that's in the trunk yet) that makes it much easier for new developers to get involved.

      • Now if we could only get them to support their novell client on distro's other than suse.
        • I can second that, only first they could perhaps be so nice as to get it working? As of now you first log into your desktop, do a login to novell and save a profile in Casa. It stinks that they dont use pam correctly. All they would have needed was to write one lousy pam module.

    • 80% of desktops in Novell now use Linux (I presume the remainder use Windows).

      Last time I spoke with our Novell tech, he said the only people still running windows are the people who are supporting Novell's windows products (Groupwise client, Zenworks Desktop management, etc.)
  • by flipper65 (794710) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:25AM (#15888179) Homepage
    While it pains me to say anything good about Novell in their current incarnation, Xen absolutely rocks. What RedHat's mouthy VP should have said, and could have reasonably said is: "WE have not fully tested Xen and WE are not ready to support it in the enterprise." That is a completely reasonable statement and probably better reflects reality.

    See what happens when you have VPs snooping around the engineering cubes and trying to redeliver what they thought they heard.

    • by postbigbang (761081) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:11AM (#15888415)
      The implementations between OpenSUSE 10.1 and the new SLES are different, and neither work. In OpenSUSE, the scripts are wrong, leading to difficulties in getting GRUB to boot it. Go past that and we could only get two paravirtualizations to work concurrently, this on very seriously built hardware (Athlon 64 with 12GB DRAM at 3.2GHZ). We tried it on other servers in the shop and had similar problems. Occasionally, instances would go incommunicado-- that's right, living but deaf and dumb to the point where we had to scrape them because (we believe) the hypervisor lost its place.

      No one we know has been able to get SUSE's version to work. It seems to be a branch of Xensource's work, but we can't get the source to try and hammer it out.

      We're neither Red Hat or SUSE lackeys, but it would have been nice to have a kewl distro that allowed something beyond SELinux, which has its own heartburn problems.
      • by IMightB (533307) on Friday August 11, 2006 @11:08AM (#15889193) Journal
        Never used SusE/Novell's version of Xen, but I CAN tell you that Fedora's is not compiled with PAE enabled, so you cannot address more than 4GB of RAM. It seems to me, like you are looking for a pretty serious VM performance/memory allocation. I am in the same situation, and have to recompile Xen from source with PAE enabled to get more the kind of memory allocation that I need.

        To save you some searching here's the make command

        make XEN_TARGET_X86_PAE=y install

        though for 64bit goodness you'll probably have to throw another flag in there.
        • though for 64bit goodness you'll probably have to throw another flag in there.

          That's more important. If I had an Athlon-64 with 12 GiB of RAM, I'd much rather use 64-bit addressing to cleanly use the whole thing rather than segmentation games with chunks of 2, 3, or 4 GiB. (32-bit = 4 GiB; Linux uses...I think the top GiB for the kernel.)

    • Red Hat has been including it in Fedora for a bit now, and it works, and probably good enough for most companies, but in all seriousness, its not "enterprisey" at all and has its issues too, as all software does. Red Hat contributes to Xen, and their website has articles and I even believe videos about using Xen (things like migrating processes between two virtual machines and stuff), iirc. So they certainly like Xen, and have a vested interest in it, but it could use more work. Red Hat's enterprise line is
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:27AM (#15888186)
    Hey editors, the phrase you are looking for is "defends against claims" or "defends Xen stability"... it is RedHat who should be defending the claims of instability. The object of "to defend" is the thing you are protecting!

    Muttering comment to self: why does English usage keep rotting out to the point where any short concise statement is often made 100% contrary to its intended meaning? If we have to decide everything by context and intuition, why not just have everybody say, "statistically appropriate speach act" as a placeholder? (Or "statistically inappropriate speach act" if we want to go with a nudge and a wink.)
    • So basically things should be assumed to be stable unless proven otherwise? That's generally not the way it works in the Debian world or the security world.

      The key problem with Xen at this moment is that it's not in the mainline kernel and it's a nontrivial patch. Because of this, it's possible for Xen to break between kernel upgrades unless you put a lot of your own resources into QAing it and undoing any changes in the mainline kernel that damage Xen.

      If you've been following the Ubuntu Edgy release, you'd
    • I could care less about your post.

    • Muttering comment to self: why does English usage keep rotting out to the point where any short concise statement is often made 100% contrary to its intended meaning? If we have to decide everything by context and intuition, why not just have everybody say, "statistically appropriate speach act" as a placeholder? (Or "statistically inappropriate speach act" if we want to go with a nudge and a wink.)


      Yeah! I agree with this wholeheartedly!

      One question, though: What's "speach"? Prefix-pluralization of a fru
    • Muttering comment to self: why does English usage keep rotting out to the point where any short concise statement is often made 100% contrary to its intended meaning? If we have to decide everything by context and intuition, why not just have everybody say, "statistically appropriate speach act" as a placeholder? (Or "statistically inappropriate speach act" if we want to go with a nudge and a wink.)

      Indeed.

      I didn't need the sarcasm tag, did I?

      • Well sometimes it is poor grammar and sometimes it is incorrect spelling that make someone hard to understand. While we are on the topic what the hell is a "speach act" anyway? I don't quite "gronk" the meaning of a speech act much less a "speach act".

        Wabi-Sabi
        Matthew
    • Red Hat said that it was not good enough for banking, telco, or other enterprise use. In general, virtualization offers some advantages where you have non- or semi-critical services that are on servers that you want to consolidate. I think there are also a few potential security applications I would consider too.

      I would not consider using it for telecom switches or the like.
  • Red Hat's fault (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:33AM (#15888221)
    Well, Red Hat is right in some point: indeed, Xen won't work well with Red Hat systems.

    But, no one said it's Xen's fault. It's just the fact that cramming ten virtual machines into a single system is not a good idea when the minimal install is 1.2GB like with Red Hat's latest offerings, crawling with memory-hungry daemons. I keep whining on Debian's mailing lists about unneeded cruft like inetd or portmap in the default system, as IMHO 100MB is way too bloated. And 100MB, is, well, a bit less than 1.2GB.

    (Disclaimer: the figure of 1.2GB is something I vaguely remember reading about on /., I haven't touched Red Hat in >3 years. But if at the time it was the mother of all bloat, I doubt the situation has changed.)

    There is a similar case with Oracle. The default minimal install takes 800MB _RAM_ for a single instance, experienced DBAs claim you can go down as low as 300MB. MySQL is functional in 32MB, and shines in 64MB -- more memory is needed only if the dataset is big. For 34 databases on my old non-partitioned server there is only one over 100MB and three over 10MB -- I guess this is the typical distribution.

    Neither Red Hat nor Oracle are capable of scaling down; Xen is worthless if you can't trim down your virtual machines.
    • inetd/portmap are what let you network your computer (inetd starts things like NIS for instance iirc). If you don't plan on networking your computer install freedos on it :-) Or DSL or something.

      Granted, I think you should have the ability to disable them if you want, but as a distro you have to target an audience who like it or not, like the whole "networking" fad.

      Tom
      • Re:Red Hat's fault (Score:3, Informative)

        by _typo (122952)
        My computer is running fine networked without inetd/portmap. So are my servers. Inetd is only needed for services that don't do their own daemon and these days that's pretty much none. Portmap is used for RPC so if you're running NFS/NIS you might still need it but it certainly isn't a standard thing either these days. Distros should not enable these by default since they're very much corner cases now.
      • Re:Red Hat's fault (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vadim_t (324782)
        But we're talking about the default system here. inetd isn't required to boot the system, and you can perfectly have a fully functional system without it. That's not to say that it shouldn't be present, just that it shouldn't be installed until you install something that depends on it. Same for portmap.

        • Agreed. That comment makes sense.

          To be honest though, I haven't touched Debian in a few years... Once you go Gentoo, you never go ... um backtoo. :-)

          Tom
          • I switched to Gentoo as well, but Debian definitely holds an advantage here, as Gentoo takes a lot of disk space even for a minimum install due to the development tools.

            At home, Debian has been relegated to the firewall, which has no hard disk and runs from a CompactFlash to IDE adapter. The small size of the minimum install comes very useful there.
      • inetd has nothing to do with networking per se. It doesn't "let you network your computer" - it's just for spawning certain network-facing (usually very simple) services. Most services anyone cares about certainly won't run out of it. And, as others have mentioned, not every server uses NFS or NIS, making portmap unnecessary on most servers (not all; however, if you need to run fam or something on your server, you should be able to make it listen only on INADDR_LOCALHOST, to avoid exposing it to the whole w
    • Re:Red Hat's fault (Score:3, Informative)

      by marcello_dl (667940)
      In fact, my leased 2.6.11-xen vserver with debian has performed well since when it was installed, 47 days ago. No X11 stuff on it, of course.
      • But if you want to you can install Xorg/X11 and access it remotely via VNC.

        Here is one guide on how to do that [debian-adm...ration.org]. (Adding an SSH tunnel would make a lot of sense for remote connections, but should be simple.)

        • But if you want to you can install Xorg/X11 and access it remotely via VNC.
          Yeah, you can, but what's the point? GUI belongs on a workstation, not on a server. You don't want to end up where Microsoft did.

          And even if you insist, X was _designed_ to be accessed remotely. No need to use VNC -- it would just destroy window integration.

    • Re:Red Hat's fault (Score:4, Informative)

      by walt-sjc (145127) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:05AM (#15888371)
      the fact that cramming ten virtual machines into a single system is not a good idea when the minimal install is 1.2GB

      Um, considering that in VM situations, most of that 1.2G can be in a shared read-only partition (or an LVM2 RW snapshot), and that modern hard drives are quite large, I respectfully disagree.

      See the LVM HOWTO [tldp.org] which SPECIFICALLY mentions XEN as an applcaion of RW snapshots.

      • Re:Red Hat's fault (Score:4, Informative)

        by KiloByte (825081) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:17AM (#15888457)
        Um, considering that in VM situations, most of that 1.2G can be in a shared read-only partition (or an LVM2 RW snapshot), and that modern hard drives are quite large, I respectfully disagree.
        And what if you want to add a package to only one of the VMs?

        I put things into separate Xen domains nearly only for security. Having potentially vulnerable crap like php or python on only a single VM means that only that single VM will be endangered when a new hole is discovered. And when you don't have even things like wget installed, most attackers who pwn you will move to an easier target. Not to mention that I would want to see the face of that script kiddie once he notices the box has only IPv6 connectivity :p

        • Re:Red Hat's fault (Score:3, Interesting)

          by walt-sjc (145127)
          And what if you want to add a package to only one of the VMs?

          Then you add a package to that VM. That's what RW snapshots allow you to do. Go read the LVM howto that I referenced above. If you want to delete a package, go ahead and delete a package. It really IS that simple.

    • by Finite9 (757961)
      "There is a similar case with Oracle. The default minimal install takes 800MB _RAM_ for a single instance, experienced DBAs claim you can go down as low as 300MB. MySQL is functional in 32MB, and shines in 64MB -- more memory is needed only if the dataset is big"

      Well, this is blatantly incorrect. a new instance of Oracle 9ir2 takes up as much memory as you allocate to it. If you choose "percentage of available physical memory" and you have 512MB and set it to 50% then the instance will take roughly 256
      • by Tim C (15259)
        how much memory do you need then if the dataset is 1000TB?

        I suspect that the OP is caching at least some of his dataset in RAM. My current project uses Oracle 10g on a 4-way Solaris box with 32GB of RAM; we have that much RAM precisely so we can (attempt to) cache the entire dataset in RAM, thus reducing/eliminating disk I/O.

        On the other hand, if you don't care about caching huge amounts of data, you don't really need huge amounts of RAM.

        (Disclaimer: Damnit Jim, I'm a programmer, not a DBA!)
    • Uh, 1.2GB is nothing. My palm pilot has a 1GB SD card in it. And for enterprise customers (you know, those who are interested in getting things done rather then having a "pure", cruftless system), they are running big boxen, and 1.2GB is a rounding error.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:38AM (#15888243) Homepage Journal
    Red Hat: "Is not!"
    Novell: "Is too!"
    Red Hat: "Is not, not, double not!"
    Novell: "Is too, no backsies!"

    More on this story as it develops.
  • Seems Odd... (Score:4, Informative)

    by lefticus (5620) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:06AM (#15888376) Homepage
    Seems odd that Novell would "Fire Back." Unix Shell [unixshell.com], where I host my server, has had no end of troubles with Xen. Personally, I have been mostly stable, and the Xen technology is an awesome thing. However, the message on the front page of Unix Shell "Due to lack of Datacenter space, unixshell# has suspended ordering until further notice" is not entirely accurate. If you read the forums, they are waiting until Xen is stable enough to be able to deploy further accounts.
    • Re:Seems Odd... (Score:2, Informative)

      by widesan (952292)

      Seems odd that Novell would "Fire Back." Unix Shell, where I host my server, has had no end of troubles with Xen.

      [...]

      the message on the front page of Unix Shell "Due to lack of Datacenter space, unixshell# has suspended ordering until further notice" is not entirely accurate. If you read the forums, they are waiting until Xen is stable enough to be able to deploy further accounts.

      I thought the same thing when I saw the summary. However, unixshell# uses some features of Xen pretty heavily that it seems eve

      • My company, grokthis.net, is a competitor to unixshell, offering Xen VPS accounts. I work with Xen daily. I'll admit that when we first rolled out Xen, we had to halt sales for a period as well, due to bugs. Xen is very buggy and unstable, or at least its tools are. I wouldn't necessarily say it is ready for the enterprise. However, once you're aware of Xen's quirks, it can be both quite manageable and very fitting in an enterprise environment. My point here is that I wouldn't advise a SMB to deploy X
  • I agree with them (Score:4, Informative)

    by codepunk (167897) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:08AM (#15888395)
    In my experience with it so far it is extremely stable and reliable and hell I am
    even running it on a redhat platform....the guests are all ubuntu not sure about redhat
    stability while running as a guest.
  • by hey (83763) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:13AM (#15888430) Journal
    announcement [fedoranews.org]
    There must have been some issues.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday August 11, 2006 @10:00AM (#15888720) Homepage Journal

    This whole thing is all blown out of proportion, and is really no big deal at all. You have to keep in mind who Novell and Red Hat's customers are: companies that want vendor support. For whatever reason, one vendor has decided that it's profitable for them to support Xen, and one has decided that it's not.

    That's all this is about. Maybe a tiny piece of the issue has to do with the maturity of Xen, but it just as easily could have to do with how much staff each company has on hand, what areas their support staff has expertise in, whether or not some internal leader/guru has had the time to get around to even looking at Xen much less evaluating it, etc. Red Hat saying Xen isn't ready (i.e. "we can't or don't want to support Xen") isn't any different than me saying MacOS isn't ready (i.e. "I can't or don't want to support MacOS, probably because I don't happen to have a Mac conveniently sitting around right now.").

  • Predictable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarsDude (74832) on Friday August 11, 2006 @10:38AM (#15888959) Homepage
    If something will be the cause of linux never succeeding on the corporate desktop.. then it is this kind of 'infighting'. Sure they are competitors. But with the same base product (Linux distro + services). They have a partially shared goal. Without recognizing that, either a 3rd linux party will walk away with the clients, or linux will not be an option. Who wants a supplier that has nothing better to do than fighting it's own goals?
    • Re:Predictable (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      But with the same base product (Linux distro + services). They have a partially shared goal.

      I don't know what leads you to believe this. Novell's aim is to make as many people as possible run Novell's OS. Red Hat's aim is to make as many people as possible run Red Hat's OS. The fact that these have some common components is irrelevant. OS X uses bash, gcc and Apache; does this mean that Apple also has a partially shared goal with Red Hat and Novell? Microsoft Windows includes some 4.4BSD code, and s

  • by N7DR (536428)
    Novell Defends 'Unstable' Xen Claims

    My memory must be going: I thought it was RH that was claiming that Xen was unstable and that Novell thought the opposite. So I start to read the summary... and after about ten seconds it dawns on me... the headline says exactly the opposite of the summary.

  • I love the new SLED 10 as well as Open Suse 10.1, but in both cases the ZEN update service is the most unstable part of the distribution. When it works, it is a nice feature. However, it seems to have problems more often then it works.
    • The article is talking about Xen [xensource.com] not Zen [opensuse.org]. Oh and Novell has put a good deal of work into fixing the initial launch issues with Zen on both OpenSUSE 10.1 and SLES/D 10.

      If you haven't you may want to update (assuming your system is functioning with updates enough to do so).
  • ... then the border worlds would be a LOT more stable. I mean geez, it's like the story of a lot of open source projects - one guy can make it, or totally break it. Thank god we've got the G-man around to keep things interesting. Well, him and the Vortigaunts.
  • I've been using Xen for a while now (Slackware dom0), and its been just fine. In fact, its been ace. Now I can have 4 servers running on one, and even migrate legacy software onto new hardware. Xen r0x0rz my s0x0rz.
  • It possible that they're both right. That xen is stable enough for Novell but not for Red Hat.

    That isn't a shot a Novell, the two companies just have customers that expect a different balance with regards to price, support, and stability, if you look at the market Red Hat is really trying to position itself as having stability and support on par with traditional Unix vendors (such as Sun) while Novell is looking to a lot of the businesses who would find Red Hat's offering too pricey. A xen install that is s
  • Ever since the resonance cascade failure at Black Mesa, Xen has never been very stable

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