How Did KVM Virtualization Get Into the Linux Kernel?

VIDEO: Avi Kivity, developer of the open-source KVM hypervisor, explains how he got his code into the Linux kernel and why KVM is still popular.

Kernel-Based Virtual Machine, more commonly referred to as KVM, is one of the most popular open-source virtualization technologies in use today. Both IBM and Red Hat use it as the basis for their Linux virtualization technologies, and it is the most widely used virtualization technology in the OpenStack cloud as well.

KVM was originally written by Israeli software developer Avi Kivity while he was working at Qumranet. Qumranet was acquired by Red Hat for $107 million in 2008.

In a video interview with eWEEK, Kivity reminisces about the history of KVM and its current popularity. Kivity said that the fact that KVM is integrated directly into Linux has been a key benefit, as the popularity of Linux continues to rise. KVM was first integrated into the mainline Linux kernel at the beginning of 2007 with the 2.6.20 kernel.

Getting KVM into the Linux kernel wasn't too hard for Kivity.

"It was the right project at the right time," Kivity said. "Virtualization was very hot at the time, and the only open-source alternative at the time was Xen, which was outside of the Linux kernel."

Kivity said that prior to first submitting KVM to the mainline Linux kernel, he lurked on the Linux Kernel Mailing List to learn what was expected from developers and code submissions. Once he was ready to submit, he was well-prepared and his code was easily accepted.

Kivity noted that once Qumranet and KVM became part of Red Hat, the technology has become even better. Kivity no longer works at Red Hat, currently running a virtualization startup called Cloudius, which is building a cloud operating system. He said he still lurks on the KVM mailing lists and submits the occasional patch, but for the most part he has left the development of KVM to others.

Watch the full video interview with Avi Kivity below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.