Red Hat Wants Xen in Linux Kernel

After previous efforts failed, Red Hat is stepping forward to get Xen virtualization technology included in the Linux kernel as quickly as possible.

Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. is aggressively pushing to get Xen virtualization technology included in the Linux kernel as quickly as possible.

Brian Stevens, the newly appointed chief technology officer of the Raleigh, N.C., company, said that previous efforts to merge Xen into the kernel ran out of steam when nobody stepped forward to drive them. Red Hat is now stepping forward, Stevens said.

This move comes as Microsoft Corp. is pushing its own virtualization products and recently relaxed some of its licensing requirements around Windows Server 2003 to facilitate more pervasive adoption and use of those technologies.

/zimages/5/28571.gifFor more on Microsofts move to simplify its Windows Server licensing, click here.

Part of the Red Hat emerging technology teams efforts will be to drive the Xen virtualization technologies as part of the Linux kernel rather than as part of a sidebar project, as is currently the case, Stevens said.

"My goal is to get this done in the most collaborative way possible with anyone in the community who wants to participate," Stevens said, adding that Red Hat is committed to putting on this project enough of its staff who have the technical knowledge necessary to get the work done.

In addition, it recently hired an additional six staff members in the virtualization area alone. "We havent been able to focus enough on this until now to help get it done. So weve stepped up to work on this and help get it done. Wed like to have this done in the next two months. I dont think its a long-term project at all," he said.

A big part of the strategy is making virtualization and its management a part of a Linux system, "so this is not just maturing the technology but having the operating system itself, the kernel itself, be intimately aware that it is being virtualized so that it participates," Stevens said.

Andrew Morton, the current maintainer of the Linux 2.6 kernel, who works for the Open Source Development Labs, in Beaverton, Ore., told eWEEK that he had expected a submission of Cambridge Universitys Computer Laboratories Xen virtualization technology for merging into the Linux kernel quite some time ago.

"But Red Hat is a strong engineering company, and I trust them to produce a good contribution and to support it," he said.

Once a contribution emerges from a development team, Morton said he will actively identify other stakeholders and solicit their feedback. "There are quite a few stakeholders here, including XenSource, Red Hat, IBM and Intel," he said. "VMWare is also working on virtualization in general, and they will provide feedback on the proposed design.

"Ill then make decisions based upon that. As we havent recently gone through that process on Xen, I am not able to predict who will react, and how. So, the bottom line is that it is too early for me to say how it will turn out," Morton said.

Next Page: Reasons for the delay.