Virtualization marketplace continues to heat up

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RH SlideRH SlideVirtualization has been a buzz word for a few years now. Some people think it has been over-hyped but I'm not one of those people. The big competing products seem to be: VMware, Xen, KVM, VirtualBox, Parallels (including OpenVZ), and Hyper-V.

Is there too much choice out there? Choice isn't bad, is it? Will there eventually be a market shake up with a thinning of product candidates as a result? Will someone try to proclaim that they are the virtualization "standard"? I don't really know. I certainly like competition and don't think having a number of competing products is bad. There are both proprietary products and FOSS products. As you can guess, I lean towards the later if at all possible.

Update: Full article now includes two embedded flash videos from Red Hat.

Citrix XenServer

As you probably heard elsewhere, Citrix has decided to give away (free as in beer) their XenServer product. They even have a video of Simon Crosby explaining how giving XenServer away for free makes sense for Citrix. One of the reasons he claims is that the enterprise Linux folks have their own inferior Xen management apps... and if it were free, enterprise Linux users could switch to the superior Citrix solution more easily... which will lead to a demand for higher level services and products that aren't free. I'm not going to repeat Simon's arguments. I'm sure they have run the numbers and that they do indeed compute.

Red Hat integrates Qumranet's products and goes KVM

Then as if on cue Red Hat comes out with a slew of announcements about their virtualization strategy change. They have a number of press releases, a video, a webcast, and even a blog posting from the CTO.

Video: Red Hat's Brian Stevens explains why KVM

Oddly they are still not talking about RHEL 6 and the upcoming product changes are going to start with the RHEL 5.4 update which is due out in 6 months or so... although they did mention they would have a staggered release for the various products. Will it be all free (as in speech and freedom)? Yes although the GUI management products won't be at first. The management client application for SolidIce has historically been Microsoft Windows-only (with the server-side stuff being all Linux/KVM-based)... and it doesn't appear they want to GPL that... but they did say that once they become "cross platform", they plan on releasing it as free software.

They didn't announce any pricing but I'm guessing the entry level numbers will just be part of RHEL like their Xen setup is now... and then the advanced stuff may be an optional addon at an extra price... or maybe just included in the premium flavor of RHEL.

Although they didn't specifically mention the release terms of the SPICE protocol and its patent(s)... I think it is safe to assume from past actions that Red Hat is pretty patent friendly and would only go after commercial vendors trying to exploit their stuff in a non-free way. We'll see how all of that pans out.

Video: Another Red Hat video about KVM's future

How is that going to affect current Red Hat Virtualzation (aka Xen) users? Again, I'm not going to repeat all of Red Hat's announcements so watch the webcast or read a press release or two, lazy.

Images: Slides from Red Hat's webcast

What about containers?

Yeah, what about containers? The effort continues to get Linux Native Containers into the mainline kernel. Parallels and the OpenVZ Project continue their development and porting of code to newer kernels... although no new stable kernel branch has been announced in some time. I'm hoping that once RHEL 5.4 is released, OpenVZ will rebase on that kernel and we'll have both KVM and OpenVZ in the same kernel... one that you'd actually want to use... unlike their experimental Xen/OpenVZ hybrid kernel from a while ago.

I'm wishing Red Hat would notice containers and integrate them into their virtualization strategy. Proxmox VE already shows that KVM and OpenVZ can live together quite nicely... and libvirt has been OpenVZ aware for some time. Can you hear them knocking Red Hat?

Best tool for the job

I use a bit of everything. If I can use OpenVZ for the job, I will... and that is most of the time. I do use KVM on Fedora for a number of things like trying out the latest Linux distro, building respins of Fedora, using Microsoft Windows when I have to. I manage one Xen setup on a CentOS box and one VMware Server setup on an Ubuntu box. I plan on trying out the latest, free XenServer (already downloaded it). On my older machine at home, that doesn't have VT, I use VirtualBox. I have a few (what I call legacy) Linux-VServer setups at work... and my co-workers use quite a bit of VMware ESX. None of them suck in any significant way that I've noticed. How about you?

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Hi, I have been using OpenVZ as the choice of my current virtualization solution ever since I watched your introduction video to OpenVZ 1.5 months ago.

One key reason is that I got a old Dell server (don't remember the model since I am at home now) at work And it only comes with 1 GB of memory and it's supposed to be a test server......@@. Can you imagine running more than one virtual environment in that thing? I am glad I used OpenVZ and currently running 6 containers at the same time.

I have also started using Proxmox VE because the introduction here. I have gone mad with the setup. I am using Proxmox VE at home on my 3.0Ghz core 2 Duo CPU, 4GB memory personal computer at home running using wireless n only network (I spent 1 whole week to make the wireless work in CLI). After that I am happy and start installing different OS. I first installed windows on the KVM but later found out the network bridge is not going to work because it's running on wireless device. I was forced to give up the KVM side. What good is a window without Internet? The network works good as using the IP_forward method. So the OpenVZ containers runs fine on the machine.

I am a VoIP specialist, so most of my test environment involves Asterisk. Recently I found tutorials teaching how to integrate Skype with Asterisk under pure Linux mode and I managed to get it working but I do have one problem maybe you already know a solution to it. I don't have a sound card on the Hardware Node and I was trying to configure a virtual sound device to work in my container (since the Skype runs inside the container). Do you know how to make that work?

Also, I would like to try to install media centers on Container. Is there a way to display container's X-server screen on the physical screen? Let's say you have a dual screen set up on your computer, can I have the 1st screen to display for the Hardware Node and have the second screen display one of the containers on the 2nd screen?

Really appreciate all your postings here.

Scott Dowdle's picture

Using X in a container

It may be possible to access the video and audio hardware directly from a container... but it isn't something I've done. I don't see how you could have two displays with one displaying the host node and the other displaying a container without using two video cards.

So far as running X inside of a container, that is fairly easy to do and accessible via methods like VNC, FreeNX, or running X through ssh with the -X flag. I have created a few GUI OS Templates: Fedora 7, Fedora 8, Fedora 9, Fedora 10, CentOS 4, and CentOS 5.

Some time ago I saw a project where a guy was using Linux-VServer to drive multiple containers of Ubuntu and he had it configured with multiple monitors, keyboards and mice... using it for a multi-user setup. That was a very advanced setup and I don't think the project got very far.

One of the upcoming features of Fedora 11 is multiseat although it isn't clear yet that that will make the final feature cut or not. I don't think it is something you could use in a container though.

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