Debian Linux Adds OpenVZ Virtualization Software

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-08-03 Print this article Print

The OpenVZ virtualization software is built on Linux and creates isolated, secure virtual environments on a single physical server to enable greater server utilization and better availability with fewer performance penalties.

The free Debian Linux operating system has added the OpenVZ virtualization software to its "unstable," or development, distribution, known as Sid. That operating-system-level server virtualization software, developed by the OpenVZ Project, is built on Linux and creates isolated, secure virtual environments on a single physical server. These virtual servers ensure that applications do not conflict and can be rebooted independently. OpenVZ resembles the Containers feature found in Sun Microsystems freely available Solaris 10 operating system, in that both technologies allow multiple instances to run under a single host kernel.
"This is an important milestone in delivering our open-source virtualization software to the user community and the large base of Debian users, and represents another step in our mission toward gaining adoption as part of the mainstream Linux kernel and other Linux distributions, which now include Debian, Mandriva, Gentoo Linux and ALT Linux Sisyphus," Kir Kolyshkin, manager of the OpenVZ Project, told eWEEK Aug. 3.
That sentiment is echoed by Till Brehm, chief technology officer for "Making OpenVZ virtualization available is a huge benefit for the Debian user community as we can gain significant benefits, most of all improved utilization rates, which results directly in saved money, by carving physical servers into logical units," Brehm said. eWEEK Labs suggests you keep your operating system options open. Click here to read more. Virtualization software is designed to exploit the underutilization of many servers, particularly given the advances in CPU power, effectively splitting the server into many small ones, each running tasks, so that the whole server is utilized more efficiently. The OpenVZ Project was created at the end of 2005, when SWsoft released the core of its operating-system-level virtualization product, Virtuozzo. Asked what the plans are to get the OpenVZ technology into the distributions of the leading Linux vendors Red Hat and Novells SUSE, Kolyshkin said the OpenVZ patchset has already been provided for the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 kernel and that the SUSE engineers are currently evaluating the technology. He pointed to comments made earlier this year by Holger Dyroff, vice president of Linux Server product management at Novell, where Dyroff said Novell is committed to bringing the latest advances in virtualization "and will evaluate the technology for possible inclusion in a future release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10." Kolyshkin also referenced comments made by Brian Stevens, CTO at Red Hat, in a March Webcast, where he said the company saw a strong use case for lightweight, container-based virtualization and will "get behind that, absolutely." With regard to the Xen virtualization technology that both Red Hat and SUSE have agreed to include in their distributions, Kolyshkin said they are employing different virtualization approaches that can "happily coexist." Read here why Oracle is losing patience with VMware and XenSource. "Depending on the task and all the specifics, you either choose Xen or OpenVZ to solve it, or even employ both. Here, as in the case with the distributions, diversity is good," he said. OpenVZ is also actively working toward getting its technology included in the Linux kernel, Kolyshkin said, adding that Linus Torvalds, founder and leader of Linux, and Andrew Morton, who maintains the stable kernel, are quite favorable to operating-system-level virtualization, which is the technology OpenVZ employs. "They support including it, but there are other groups working in this same area, and for inclusion in the Linux kernel to happen, all the groups have to first reach consensus. And there are a lot of topics to be discussed and agreed on," he said. The members of these groups are constantly in discussion over mailing lists, exchanging patches and ideas, and generally moving forward. "It seems the overall feeling among the kernel people is that containers are a good feature to have in the Linux kernel and should get merged into the mainstream. Sooner or later, we will be there," Kolyshkin said. Debian users will now be able to provision physical servers to run applications on virtual servers, and the OpenVZ Project is providing Debian templates that allow for rapid provisioning of a virtual server. The Debian software including OpenVZ can be downloaded here. Users can access installation instructions from the OpenVZ wiki, which includes documentation and a knowledge base. The OpenVZ Project has also revised the licensing terms for its user-level utilities under the GNU GPL (General Public License) to comply with the Debian Free Software Guidelines. In addition, the OpenVZ software now conforms with the LSB/FHS (Linux Standard Base/File Hierarchy Standard). 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


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