XenSource, VMware Conflict Holds Back Linux Virtualization

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-07-26 Print this article Print

Community members are mediating between the two competing virtualization vendors in pursuit of a joint solution for the Linux kernel.

PORTLAND, Ore.—Dont expect to see a single virtualization technology baked into the Linux kernel in the near future. Thats because XenSource and VMware are butting heads instead of working together to come up with a joint solution, Greg Kroah-Hartman told attendees on July 26 here at the annual OSCON (OReilly Open Source Conference). Kroah-Harman works for Novells SUSE Labs and is also the Linux kernel maintainer for a number of subsystems and a maintainer of the stable Linux kernel team.
"Xen and VMware both supply huge patch-sets and are both trying to do the same thing, but their technologies dont work with one another, and we are telling them that we do not want to take one over the other, we want them to talk and work it out," he said.
Getting the two companies to talk to one another and work together has been requiring mediation by neutral parties, including people from the Linux distributions, the community and vendors, he said, adding that these mediators "are currently trying to kick them in the butt and get them to work together. So that solution is not coming anytime soon," he said. There has been a lot of speculation about whether Xen is actually ready for prime time. Click here to read more. While it initially appeared that the Xen patches would be merged into the Linux kernel, which would then have only run on Xen, there has been a move away from that toward an interface in the kernel that would let it work with any virtualization hypervisor technology. Xen, VMware and Microsoft are all working on hypervisor technologies. In a recent interview with eWEEK, Frank Artale, the vice president of business development at XenSource, said the Xen technology was ready for inclusion in the kernel and the company was ready to go. But he declined to comment on comments by Red Hat executives and others in the community earlier in 2006 that the Xen technology is still "far from ready for inclusion in the kernel." Brian Stevens, Red Hats chief technical officer, at the launch of the companys Integrated Virtualization strategy in San Francisco on March 14, told eWEEK, "I am an eternal optimist, but I really did not appreciate how extensively and rapidly the Xen code is changed." Click here to read why Red Hat is pushing to have Xen virtualization technology added to the Linux kernel. XenSource is also covering all of its options and even announced on July 18 a strategic relationship with Microsoft for the development of technology to provide interoperability between Xen-enabled Linux and Windows Server virtualization, Artale said. "There is no better reward for any software developer than having a rich base of potential users, and that is one of the reasons we at XenSource are doing this," he said, adding that the open-source community should feel good that an API that they developed is broadly available on every platform. Artale said Xen is being incorporated into Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 platform, as well as into upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases, and said that, from a technical perspective, Linux has a protocol through which it talks to the Xen hypervisor. In his OSCON presentation, Kroah-Hartman also noted that many of the features that Microsoft is making available in Windows Vista, when it ships some time in 2007, are already available in Linux. "There is a giant laundry list of features for Vista and many of these are things that Linux already has," he said. Examples of this included features like memory hot-plug, which will not be in the first Vista release but a subsequent one; USB 2.0; support for Bluetooth; and ExpressCard, which "does not work on Windows. There are a lot of things that we do before that no one ever seems to remember," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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