A (Linux) use for x86 virtualization?

A (Linux) use for x86 virtualization?

Summary: This may be the first real use for PC style ghosting I've ever seen because it provides enormous savings over the traditional one-of-each support infrastructure without imposing apriori limits on what distributions can be sold.


According to distrowatch there are about 360 currently more or less active Linux distributions.

According to Intel and VMware a quad processor Tigerton/Caneland based PC server with enough memory and storage will be available real soon now and handle 360 Linux ghosted applications for real cheap.

In other words, if your garage business makes and supports software you can put one of these in a corner rack and use it to support customers using any of the available Linux distributions. One computer - 360 distinctly different customer application contexts, just switch between them as the calls come in.

It sounds silly, but it may be the first real use for PC style ghosting I've ever seen because it provides enormous savings over the traditional one-of-each support infrastructure without imposing apriori limits on what distributions can be sold (i.e. supported) and without penalising users on performance or control.

More subtly, it turns an oft cited Linux negative: too many Linux distributions, into a positive: freeing the customer from vendor imposed distribution requirements.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Virtualization

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  • VMware for Linux

    is a pretty good product. I tried out Xen a few weeks back. You need to 1) install the Xen hypervisor (NOTE: you must have some pretty expensive processors to do both Windoze and Linux - Opteron) 2) Install the controller software on a WINDOZE box (no version for Linux) 3) Have ANOTHER server available to run installs from (the hypervisor cannot use the interal CD/DVD for installs). I was also unimpressed how you need to edit the GRUB parameters before you can boot up.

    I say F* This! to Xen and its low cohesion and high coupling costs. I could have done better in a college programming class than this crappy thing. Please do not cite it as "news" on ZDnet anymore - as this barrier to entry is fairly high. One thing Xen DOES have - a way to create Xen VMs from VMware VMs. So why mess around, when you have the real thing - VMware?

    I've used VMware since the beginning (I bought a license for version 1 of VMware workstation), and it just works great. But I wouldn't run 360 concurrent VMs! I would have a nice collection so I could run any ONE of those 360 VMs when I wanted.
    Roger Ramjet
    • One at a time is a big part of the point

      Suppose you have one or two support people - with one box you'll be running no more than two to four Linux ghosts at any one time - the one or two being worked on and one or two others for remote customer access.
    • KVM and Lguest will make Xen redundant for Linux

      I too have never been able to get Xen working, first in the 2.x series and now in the 3.x series. It's just a weird piece of software. So I too have been running VMware for the last few years.

      The approach taken by KVM is a lot easier and more like what VMware does. The only downside is that you need a processor with VT or SVM support. For older processors there is the Lguest project to provide the same virtualisation support albeit with some overhead.

      But I'd say the best type of virtualisation is the one delivered by Solaris zones, BSD jails and Linux OpenVZ/Vserver that is best suited to the multi-user, multi-process Unix model.
      • Amen (NT)

  • Why multiple Linux OSs are difficult to support.

    About the only use this setup would be for a small company would be to say, "Yep, we tested it on your bizarro linux distro, and it doesn't work."

    Few large, and no small support organizations have the talent or time to be educated on the nuances of 360 different linux distros.

    You could pick a few more distros to test on, but that has always been the selling point for VMware, Xen and others. Test and development have always been the low-hanging fruit for enterprise adoption of virtualization. Only after a comfort level is build by test and development did the enterprise move on to virtualizing production servers.
    • Another use.

      Someone would have to be in charge of keeping all 360 Linux distributions up-to-date, removing the debris when one dies, and adding others that flare briefly into dim and soon-forgotten existence.

      That would be a good job for people with the personality type to appreciate it. The sort who can mock impending failure hilariously, while alone.

      The fun would disappear if only significant Linux distributions were included. Walking from one's Red Hat box to one's SuSE box to the Ubuntu box kept as a curiosity would soon wear thin.
      (Not virtualizing provides more exercize.)
      Anton Philidor
      • Give it a rest -please!

        You know perfectly well how this process would really work:

        1 - Hello? do you sell super_soft 0.9 for my_distro?
        2 - You bet (Quick Joe, load super_soft on something called my_distro)
        3 - Can I see it work?
        4 - Sure connect to 555.121.121.555 login as test pw = mine
        5 - Wow!
        6 - Of course you can pay on-line, click "cough it up" on the commit panel...
        I.e. the only distros loaded, are those for which customers have paid up support agreements on the application.
        • Presumably you mean...

          ... support agreements on both the distribution and the appliction able to run on that distribution.


          "... the only distros loaded, are those for which customers have paid up support agreements on the application."

          Assuring the agreements are effective and dealing with problems and making necessary changes to distributions and applications can be time-consuming.

          The people with such responsibilities would appreciate the rest.

          This problem is one reason there are only two commercial versions of Linux. Even Oracle's Red Hat was said to be having difficulty establishing credibility because of changes to the original.
          Anton Philidor
          • No - just apps

            Licence my app for distro X release Y and "we" set that up as a ghosted image on the machine. If you need help.. our guy switches it in, duplicates the problem, figures out what can be done.

            That's no OS support - it's apps support.

            So Torvalds releases a new kernel, joe distro maker dumps out a new release... you ask us if there's an impact. If none, we can at the user's request upgrade in parallel with the your change, but if there is you can pay for the work needed or stay with the existing releasse. It's your choice.. but we're still just doing apps, not OS support.
  • That's Os's not apps

    Unless you count the lame apps that come with those distros. 360 OSs and no applications ;-)

    First you'd have to find an application and then find someone someone interested in testing it (outside their basement ;-)).

    Be perfect for the *nix museum - tell Anton, I'm sure he'll set it up.