Virtualization is not evil. It's sarcastic.

If virtualization were truly evil, it would be a lot more popular than it is. Unfortunately, Linus Torvalds thinks virtualization is evil. Evil technology should be made of sterner stuff.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Back in August during his LinuxCon keynote interview, Linus Torvalds proclaimed that "Virtualization is Evil." I'm sorry to again disagree with the great Linus Torvalds, purveyor of truth, justice and the Linux way but alas, I do. Virtualization isn't evil. It's sarcastic. Sarcasm isn't evil. And, I'm not being sarcastic when I say that.

Linus doesn't like virtualization because it separates him from the hardware, which is why he built the Linux kernel in the first place. He wanted to "get his grubby hands" on things like I/O ports. Virtualization sarcastically denies the importance of the underlying hardware by abstracting it into a standard hardware subset. But, it isn't evil. It's not even mischievous. But, it's plenty sarcastic.

Evil implies that there's some sort of malevolent force behind virtualization. Like there's someone wanting to purposely undermine physical hardware's importance. Nothing could be further from the truth. You still need hardware on which to run your hypervisor. KVM, Xen and VMware all use some form of Linux kernel. There you go, Linus, there's Linux working on actual, physical hardware. Not evil.

e·vil [ee-vuhl]


1. morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life. 2. harmful; injurious: evil laws. 3. characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days. 4. due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation. 5. marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition.


6. that which is evil; evil quality, intention, or conduct: to choose the lesser of two evils. 7. the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin. 8. the wicked or immoral part of someone or something: The evil in his nature has destroyed the good. 9. harm; mischief; misfortune: to wish one evil. 10. anything causing injury or harm: Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil.

Linus obviously, and thankfully, likes to tinker with hardware and drivers but many of us don't. We need to support production systems. Virtualization makes support easy because of that standard set of (not) evil virtual hardware. Hardware tinkering, settings tweaking and unstable driver installing on production systems is not a good plan--not for me anyway. I'd rather have a standard set of hardware supported by stable drivers to deal with rather than to rely on a single programmer who cranks out code at his convenience. And, all the while I'm missing my SLAs and making clients very unhappy.

Production systems require stability. Virtualization provides that stability. Therefore, virtualization is not evil. Unstable drivers are evil.

sar·casm [sahr-kaz-uhm]


1. harsh or bitter derision or irony. 2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review full of sarcasms.

I like virtualization because it provides a consistent hardware environment. I don't have to guess what brand of memory is in a system. I don't have to know who manufactured the motherboard. I don't have to search a vendor site for BIOS updates. And, I never have to worry that some vendor didn't do proper regression testing on their drivers prior to releasing them to the public.

And, I've never had a driver-related BSOD or kernel panic on a virtual machine.

Yep, there's much to love about virtualization. But, I'm glad that there are people out there like Linus who love to work with hardware and who are willing to troubleshoot, fix and tinker. To me, those things are evil.

I guess Linus and I will have to agree to disagree on this point.

Virtualization makes sense from several points-of-view: financial, support, stability, space, consistency and deployment.

If that's evil, then I'm gonna need more evil.

Perhaps Linus was being sarcastic when he said "Virtualization is evil."

What do you think? Do you think virtualization is evil?

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