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OpenVZ virtualization runs on Ubuntu 7.10

OpenVZ now offers an Ubuntu 7.10 template and is working to integrate its container virtualization technology into future versions of the Linux kernel.

The OpenVZ Project has released a version of Ubuntu 7.10 preconfigured with its open source operating system virtualization software. Now users can download an Ubuntu software template from OpenVZ and set up Ubuntu OpenVZ virtual machines (VMs) on top of an existing Linux system.

The new Ubuntu offering brings free and easy-to-deploy open source virtualization to Ubuntu users. "We think it is a really easy way for people to deploy Ubuntu," said Gerry Carr, the marketing manager of Canonical Ltd., the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu.

A principal goal of the OpenVZ initiative is to further integrate into Ubuntu and eventually become part of Linux mainstream kernel, said Kir Kolyshkin, the manager of the Moscow-based OpenVZ project. "We hope that the next version of Ubuntu will have OpenVZ built in [to the mainstream Linux kernel]" said Kolyshkin.

Ideally, a new Ubuntu server can be set up in about a minute, OpenVZ claims. If the process doesn't go as smoothly, free support comes from other users on OpenVZ. "We have a good community of users, and they can ask questions via the forum, there is the wiki and the mailing list," said Kolyshkin. And while "most people are happy enough with that support in a free system, there are fee-based support options as well," he said. While estimates on the number of users in the OpenVZ project are difficult, because it is free and open source, but there are about 10,000 downloads every month, according to Kolyshkin.

OpenVZ in a nutshell
OpenVZ is the containerized, or operating system (OS)-level server virtualization offering sponsored by SWsoft, the company behind Parallels and Virtuozzo. The Linux-based technology consists of a kernel, user-level tools and virtual private server (VPS) templates. The kernel and tools are needed to install OpenVZ, and templates are needed to create virtual environments. The same kernel is shared across all VPSs, all running the same Linux OS.

This is in contrast to hypervisor-based forms of virtualization from companies like VMware, Inc. and Citrix Systems Inc. (formerly XenSource) that allow multiple kernels and operating systems to run on the same physical server.

"Some operations cannot be done in VPSs that are possible on physical hardware and Xen, VMware," wrote blogger Ehab Heikal, a junior member of OpenVZ project. "If you are running only Linux as a server and want multiple virtual machines on a dedicated server, OpenVZ is the way to go. If you just want to dabble and play around or want both [Microsoft] Windows and Linux, then go for Xen or VMware."

The next frontier: Mainstream Linux
At LinuxWorld Expo 2007, Andrew Morton, one of the lead developers of the Linux kernel project, discussed supporting OpenVZ, saying he hopes to move the OpenVZ project into the Linux kernel over the next year or two.

"I hope slowly we'll start moving significant parts of the OpenVZ product into the Linux kernel in a way in which it's acceptable to all the other stakeholders, so that those guys don't end up carrying such a patch burden," Morton said.

The major advantages of building OpenVZ into mainstream Linux are pervasiveness and ease of use.

OpenVZ has also collaborated with companies like IBM, which has its own container technology, to push the integration of OpenVZ into the mainstream Linux kernel.

"IBM is involved in container progress in Linux, as is Google, so it isn't just OpenVZ, and we are working with whoever is interested in getting this done," said Kolyshkin.

Additionally, Red Hat has said it may integrate container technology into the forthcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6. .

"We see a strong use case for lightweight, container-based virtualization. The hard part is getting that capability inside of Linux itself," said Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens at a 2006 news conference. "Container-based virtualization is going to be post-RHEL 5. It provides a whole other set of use cases. You'll see us get behind that, absolutely."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

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