While many Americans were focused on the sports spectacle known as the Super Bowl last Sunday, Linus Torvalds was focused on releasing a new Linux kernel.
Version 2.6.20 of the kernel includes a bevy of fixes and features, notably the introduction of KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) virtualization to the mainline kernel (define).
KVM virtualization in Linux 2.6.20 could potentially challenge open source virtualization specialist Xen, which has been aiming for Linux kernel inclusion for nearly two years. KVM was created and is maintained by technology start-up Qumranet.
However, the leader of the open source Xen project, Ian Pratt, said he doesn’t see any competitive issues with KVM in the 2.6.20 kernel.
“Xen is a true hypervisor, whereas KVM is a legacy virtualization solution
akin to VMware Workstation, VMserver and Microsoft Virtual PC,” Pratt told
internetnews.com. “It lacks the benefits of para-virtualization
performance enhancements that have been pioneered by Xen and are now being
copied by VMware and Microsoft.”
Pratt also explained that Xen is no longer actively seeking inclusion in the
mainline Linux kernel either.
“The Xen hypervisor is an operating system independent hypervisor that
supports many different operating systems (Windows, Solaris, Netware,
FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD) of which Linux is just one (though an important
one), Pratt said. “Putting Xen into Linux doesn’t make sense: hypervisors
are different beasts from operating systems, so they share little code.”
Plus, he added, “a large part of the Xen project is all the user space tools and
libraries that would be totally out of place in the Linux kernel sources.”
Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat (Quote) isn’t about to jump on KVM bandwagon for its upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 release. Joel Berman, Product Management
Director for RHEL told internetnews.com that Red Hat will not backport KVM to RHEL5.
“RHEL 5 will include integrated virtualization based on the Xen technology
and Red Hat will be supporting that for at least seven years,” Berman said.
Though not part of RHEL 5, KVM will find a home in the released version of
Fedora 7 which is expected in April though early adopter can already get KVM
in Fedora as a kernel update.
“Fedora moves at a brisk pace and has already offered updates to kernels
with KVM,” Berman said.
“This is a great example of why Open Source is a superior development
model,” Berman said. “Xen, KVM, lguest, OpenVZ and UML are very different
technologies that are all improving at a rapid rate and have some overlap in
capabilities. The open process allows all of these technologies to be
examined and melded and eventually become part of the Linux ecosystem. ”
The 2.6.20 is the first Linux kernel release of 2007. The prior update, version 2.6.19, was released at the end of November 2006.