Linux Virtualization = Linux-VServer

I get sick of reading/scanning all of these articles in eWeek, ComputerWorld, etc that talk about virtualization and then go on to compare Xen and VMWare. Usually they end up saying how much better VMWare is because it has been around for so much longer. Sure Xen has just started, but why is that the only Linux offering they care to mention or compare everything to?

I have used Linux-VServer for three years and the company that used it had been using it for at least another 3 years before that. As a matter of fact, you can trace it back to it’s first release back in 2001. So why is it never mentioned? Because of the number one pusher – money! Xen is backed by people trying to make money, consequently they have marketing people who want to get it in the news and they are doing a good job. It would just be nice to see a magazine that actually cared about providing real information to their readers, instead of being marketing pawns. Leave the advertising for the ads and keep it out of the article!

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  1. I think Linux VServer has a different use than VMware or Xen. Those two products offer a fully virtualized environment for the host operating system. The hosts run their own kernel and get a complete virtual PC without limitations. On top of a Xen server, you can run any mix of host servers including Linux, Windows, Solaris, or pretty much anything else.

    Linux Vserver, on the other hand is only useful for having multiple Linux-based servers that have the same kernel. This is much more efficient, because each host server doesn’t have the extra overhead of an entire kernel. But it does have some limitations. You obviously can’t run a Windows server under a Linux Vserver host. The versions I’ve worked on also have some limitations with iptables and quotas (Although some of these may be fixed in recent versions).

    Overall, I just think the technologies just have different intended uses. Unfortunately, for many in the corporate world, the need to run a Windows guest server means that Linux-Vserver is impossible. That’s where VMWare has gotten popular, and Xen will probably start to make a dent in that.

    On the plus side, for Linux-Vserver, I’ve heard that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is using it as part of their security model. They are using it so that each application runs in its own virtual server and can’t disrupt other applications.

  2. It’s interesting how once you say something you find it. Yesterday I opened up an older eweek that I hadn’t read yet and sure enough at the bottom of an article on the new Debian 4, there was a little blurb how about Linux-VServer is an option out of the box.
    One of the articles that made me post this was here. The reason that it annoyed me was that they even mentioned OpenVZ, which is very similar to Linux-VServer (I can’t remember now if it was a fork or not) – but also the open source version of a for profit product (SWSoft’s Virtuozzo).
    Anyway, here’s the article that does mention Linux-VServer – Article
    “The lesser-known Linux-VServer project takes a virtualization approach that’s more akin to Sun’ Microsystems’ Solaris Containers feature: With Linux-VServer support enabled, Debian 4.0’s hosting options are limited to Linux distributions, and guests operate under the kernel of their host.
    As with many open-source virtualization implementations, the management tools that Debian provides are fairly Spartan, but Debian’s excellent software management tools go a long way toward speeding the creation of guest Debian instances. We were able, for instance, to mint a new Debian VServer guest with a single command.”

  3. Linux-VServer is perfect for what it does: OS-level virtualisation implemented by a community. This is really very different from paravirtualisation or full virtualisation as implemented in Xen. If one wants just to separate users in different security contexts using a community-developed solution, then Linux-VServer is the best option (UML is also good if performance is not a problem), but not so if one wants to run multiple OSes. What we really need is a paravirtualisation/full-virtualisation solution developed by a pure community, though.

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