VMware adds para-Linux and x86 support

VMware will now support what it calls para-virtualized Linux, and the Solaris x86 operating system in future releases of all its core products.

The news follows its earlier announcement to open its code with the aim of promoting open virtualization standards. Techworld examines the issues behind that move here.

Para-virtualized Linux is an OS that's been specifically modified to run in a virtual environment. The technique involves modifying the guest OS slightly to run on an architecture similar to the host machine while omitting the parts that are hard to virtualize. It's particularly important on x86 platforms because that architecture has many features that are complex and inefficient to virtualize. The benefit is said to be decreases in the performance overhead of virtualization - down from some 20 per cent to two per cent, according to some sources.

VMware said it would add support for such Linuxes "as they become adopted in commercial operating system distributions". This gives customers the choice of running both unmodified and para-virtualized operating systems, with or without assistance from underlying processor technologies, concurrently on the same virtualization platform.

VMware is also adding support for Solaris x86 across its virtual infrastructure products. It said the advantage is that enterprises with mixed environments can deploy and manage any combination of Linux, NetWare, Solaris x86 and Windows and instances across the same VMware virtualization platform.

According to VMware, its support for these additional operating systems means IT admins can use its management software VirtualCenter with VMotion technology - which allows live servers to be moved from one virtual machine host to another.

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