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Old 10th September, 2007, 04:03 PM
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Virtualization: A feature of the hardware, not the OS?

Written by Daniel
Monday, 10 September 2007
Virtualization: A feature of the hardware, not the OS?
By Stephen Shankland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: September 10, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT
The virtualization specialists are fighting back.

Companies like VMware, and more recently XenSource, got their start with standalone virtualization software that let customers run several operating systems simultaneously on a single computer. But Linux sellers and Microsoft, unwilling to cede their influential position selling the foundational software of a computer, are trying to make virtualization a feature of the operating system....

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Old 10th September, 2007, 04:31 PM
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Virtualization isn't really a feature of the hardware or the OS. Take a look at hypervisors, which implement virtualization - it's a little bit like the concept of a BIOS. Without it, you don't go anywhere.
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Old 10th September, 2007, 04:50 PM
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So does logic or efficiency suggest a "best practices" approach? i.e. does virtualization inherently favor one approach over another in terms of it's implementation? Does anyone "own" virtualization? Are they going to be fighting over this in the courts?
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Old 10th September, 2007, 05:23 PM
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How do you mean "one approach over another"? Full virtualization on x86 processors requires both hardware and software to perform together. The software element could easily be put in place in BIOS code. As far as an OS is concerned, the virtualized environment is the same as being the only OS on the computer.
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Old 10th September, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Well implementing in the Bios, this is new yes? Is this what they are talking about when they speak of implementing it in the server, the actually Hard drive used as a server right? (Sorry more than a bit confused on this).

Previously it was implemented by (on a desktop) a CD or DVD. The artical mentions MS attempts and Linux limited untilization at doing this. I may be confusing desktop and server untilzation...or any number of other things":O}
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Old 10th September, 2007, 06:38 PM
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If you want to see what its all about, download virtualbox (on windows if you like, as its a bit easier to set up) and try installing an OS on it. You can install Fedora 7 on top of Windows XP for example (not sure if 2000 is supported). Without HVM support, it still works fine, while I do use HVM support on my laptop.

The point on a desktop is to be able to switch between operating systems easily, which is why I have Vista on Fedora (IE7 browser testing, and some windows only apps that don't run in wine).

The point on a server is more interesting, and something I'm experimenting with at the moment. RHEL5 servers by default run a Xen kernel, which supports virtualization out of the box. With enomalism, and others, I can dynamically adjust system resources to allocate to different hosts. So instead of selling hosting accounts based on disk space or number of mysql DBs (which are just stupid figures anyway), and having 50 people creating no load, and one person causing 90% of the load on a server, I can sell people resources.

So I can say... I will sell you a 10% of the system resources of a Xeon 3060 (core2duo 2.4Ghz) with 4GB of ram, for a set price. If you need more, you can pay more and get 20%. If you end up needing the whole server, so be it. It means if a developer is a particularly picky git (and they are), that wants a specific OS and version, I can do that. For example, one guy wanted Ubuntu server edition (god knows why), and had no idea how to use a redhat based linux distro. All I have to do, is download an Ubuntu server image, pop an instance, allocate some resources, and its up and running.

So I can have an ubuntu server running on top of a red hat enterprise server. I can even run an Xbsd server on it (in theory).
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Old 10th September, 2007, 07:14 PM
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I'm just try to keep up a bit with the general state of affairs... are we moving toward using one OS to do some things, another to do others... on the same desktop as a general practice? Will any OS have primacy, that is, will one need an os to Load V. or will V load all the OS'?
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Old 11th September, 2007, 03:00 PM
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Virtualisation, when taken all the way, should allow you to be completely OS agnostic. Unsurprisingly, mainframes have been providing this kind of virtualization for many many years, like IBM's VM/CMS (which was released in the 1970's).

For example, the VMware ESX Server hypervisor doesn't run on an OS. It may use linux to provide management functions, but this is effectively contained within the hypervisor environment like any other OS.
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Old 11th September, 2007, 04:01 PM
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Thanks guys, you've improved my meager store of knowledge.":O}
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