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OpenVZ To Release Support, Patches for Latest Kernel

Cutting-Edge Kernel-Level Virtualization

  • November 1, 2006
  • By Brian Proffitt

While the Linux world still ponders the implications of Oracle's footprint on Red Hat, Inc., other projects--which are demonstratively more important to the future of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) than whatever plans Larry Ellison might have--are continuing to progress.

One such project is the operating system virtualization system known as OpenVZ, which is about to announce this week the availability of its development-level patches for the 2.6.18 kernel.

OpenVZ is an open source product that ties directly into the Linux kernel to produce virtual Linux environments on physical Linux servers; a type of virtualization known as OS-level. Sponsored by SWsoft, OpenVZ is the open-source basis for Swsoft's commercial Virtuozzo product.

What makes this release significant is that this development branch will support a version of the Linux kernel that will be included in the upcoming RHEL v. 5 and Debian GNU/Linux 4 releases. Currently, OpenVZ's kernel patches support Linux 2.6.16.

OpenVZ is one of the virtualization projects that hopes to become directly integrated into the mainstream kernel, explained project manager Kir Kolyshkin in an interview with LinuxPlanet. "Some parts are already directly within the [2.6.19]-rc4 mainstream kernel," Kolyshkin said.

While it is natural for he and the rest of the OpenVZ team to hope that OpenVZ's virtualization code and methodology will be the exclusive virtualization tool for the Linux kernel, Kolyshkin realistically expects that the Linux kernel developers will use pieces and parts from several different virtualization projects for the mainstream Linux kernel.

Until that time, OpenVZ's code can be patched into supported Linux kernels. It is important to note that this is the development branch of OpenVZ's patches. The stable version is currently keyed to Linux 2.6.9. "Our stable branch is still quite old," Kolyshkin said. The older kernels represent a great deal more stability than the current cutting-edge kernel versions, which may still have some bugs to shake out.

Surprisingly, it's not the porting work that is the key factor in an OpenVZ development-branch release.

"Porting is not so hard," Kolyshkin indicated. "The issue is really supporting these patches." He added that the OpenVZ team prefers to support a few good development branches of their code rather than many mediocre development branches.

The criteria on which version of the Linux kernel the project chooses to support is not set in stone, but Kolyshkin did indicate that user and vendor demand play a big part in the decision. Since 2.6.18 will be the base kernel released with RHEL 5 and the new Debian GNU/Linux, it seemed a slam-dunk choice for support.

The official announcement for the OpenVZ development patches will be made later this week, Kolyshkin stated, quite likely as early as tomorrow, November 2. The download site will be http://openvz.org/download/kernel/devel.

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