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VM Bulletin 2005

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[Nov 9, 2005] Enterprise Unix Roundup Plateau or Bubble

Red Hat, after a long bit of silence that we in the media tend to describe as normal for it, popped out of its shell this week to announce an initiative to get the Xen virtualization engine into the Linux kernel.

This has been done before, mind you, but earlier efforts had fallen by the wayside. By getting Xen integrated into the kernel, the virtualization technology will allow many more integration possibilities for Red Hat in its target enterprise market.

VMware's back


[Jun 09, 2005] Q&A Microsoft's Bob Muglia discusses virtualization plans

JUNE 08, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - ORLANDO -- Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Server division, yesterday offered an update on the company's long-term vision for its server operating system, as well as related software products. Muglia discussed Microsoft's plans to change its Virtual Server product from a separately sold product to an operating system feature in the time frame of the next Windows Server release, code-named Longhorn.

This is Part 1 of the interview. Part 2 of the interview is available online (see story).

At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in April, Microsoft said it was leaning toward the elimination of future versions of Virtual Server. Can you flesh out any more details on the plans? Today, we have a product called Virtual Server that sits on top of Windows and provides virtualization capabilities. In the future, we're going to build the hypervisor and the virtualization stack into Windows. So while it's a whole new set of technologies, much, if not all, of what Virtual Server does today goes into the operating system. It becomes an operating system feature.

At the same time, we're building a whole set of management services that will exist under System Center. I do think that this is going to be a new product.

So you'll have management capabilities for a virtualized environment? Some management capabilities. When we think about virtualization, we think about it as being inherent in all of the things we deal with in our systems. So virtualization itself belongs in the operating system. Patching of images and image deployment, that's in [Systems Management Server]. Monitoring virtualized systems, that's a [Microsoft Operations Manager] feature. But there are some new features that are very important from the management perspective, like moving virtualized sessions from one machine to another. We don't have a product that does that today. And so we do think that's the potential opportunity to build a new product in that space... System Center something. Maybe it's [called] Virtualization Management. I don't know.

Are there any capabilities to that effect in your current Virtual Server product? Not really.

In third-party products? VMware has some of those, and there are some add-on products to VMware.

Building virtualization capabilities into the operating system is also happening in the Linux world, where large financial institutions are pushing it. Is that the case for Microsoft as well? The same financial institutions are driving us. We have conversations with all of those guys.... There are companies that are using virtualization pretty broadly right now, but it's still very nascent. When you look at the... breadth of the industry and what may get used, it's going to grow tremendously in the next few years. And so our job is simple: It's to make it mainstream. I think that's what we focus on.

What do you think will happen to VMware? I think there's a lot of opportunity for EMC [which purchased VMware in 2003] in general in this space. They can build management solutions. First of all, in our environment, obviously, we'll provide a certain set of capabilities. They might want to provide capabilities in different operating environments. That's one obvious thing. There's a lot management opportunities. There's a lot of opportunity to work with EMC storage.

Will the built-in virtualization capabilities ship with Longhorn, or after Longhorn? In [April], we talked about it as "the Longhorn time frame." And it still is the time frame. When we think about operating system generations, I think about the '07 generations of the operating system, say '07-'08 as all being Longhorn, maybe even to '09 for Longhorn R2. Whether it's '10 or '11, we'll have to look to see. It will be somewhere in that time frame we would do Blackcomb [the successor to Longhorn]. So the virtualization features are in the Longhorn time frame, but it's not in the initial release of Longhorn.

Will Microsoft ship the virtualization features for the operating system as a feature pack add-on to Longhorn? Maybe. I don't know. It may be in [Release 2] as well, although it's got some fundamentals that require some changes to the OS. It's not like WinFS, where it can just be put on incrementally. It does require some changes, so we're still thinking about how to deliver that.

So the virtualization technology will have to be delivered with whatever operating system release is ready? Of some form. One thing we can sometimes do, which we did a lot of in [Service Pack] 1 of Server 2003, is put enabling features into Service Packs and then we turn them on later. So, for example, when we shipped SP1 of 2003, there's code in that Service Pack that gets activated when we ship R2. There may be an ability to do something like that.

Will Longhorn have the enabling capabilities? Some will be in there. But it will probably be mostly in the Service Pack of Longhorn Server.

Or you could just go with R2 of Longhorn Server. Exactly.

Microsoft Details Plan To Put Virtualization In OS

At its WinHEC conference, Microsoft detailed a server virtualization road map that includes the development of "hypervisor" code as part of the Longhorn version of Windows. That would give Microsoft a similar approach as the one now used by virtualization market leader VMware.,4902,101460,00.html?nlid=LIN

NewsForge Review VMware 5.0

VMware Workstation now has 64-bit host support, the ability to capture multiple snapshots for each virtual machine, easier sharing of virtual machines, and the ability to connect multiple virtual machines in a "team" setting. Perhaps most importantly, GNU/Linux support is improved in version 5. Beta test Virtual Server 2005 SP1!

SP1 contains the latest software updates for Virtual Server 2005. SP1 includes the following new features:

To sign up for the Beta program: GuestID vssp1BetaTester 

What's new in SP1

Support for additional host operating systems

In addition to the host operating systems supported by Virtual Server 2005, SP1 adds support for the following host operating systems:

Support for additional guest operating systems

In addition to the guest operating systems supported by Virtual Server 2005, SP1 adds support for the following guest operating systems:

• Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 1
• Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2

Virtual Disk Precompactor

SP1 includes Virtual Disk Precompactor, a utility designed to "zero out"—that is, overwrite with zeros—any available blank space on a virtual hard disk (VHD). We recommend that you use Virtual Disk Precompactor before you compact a dynamically expanding VHD in order to create a smaller compacted VHD.

Performance enhancements

Changes have been made to the way that Virtual Server allocates physical memory to guest operating systems. In some scenarios, this could result in significant performance improvements.

Built-in support for network installations

PXE boot support has been added to the virtual machine network adapter. This means that when the appropriate network infrastructure is in place, you can perform a network installation of a guest operating system without needing a PXE boot floppy disk.

Reserved disk space for saved state files

With SP1, Virtual Server now reserves sufficient space on the physical disk to save the state of each running virtual machine. It does this when the virtual machine starts up by creating an empty saved state (.vsv) file equal to amount of memory allocated to the virtual machine plus a 20 MB buffer.

Virtual floppy disk for pre-loading emulated SCSI drivers

SP1 includes a virtual floppy disk, SCSI Shunt Driver.vfd, that you can use to load the emulated SCSI drivers during installation of a Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000, or Windows XP Professional guest operating system. This will speed the installation when the virtual hard disk is attached to a virtual SCSI adapter.

Support for hyperthreading

With Virtual Server 2005, we recommended that you disable hyperthreading on the host operating system to improve the performance of your virtual machines. With SP1, this is no longer necessary. Hyperthreading does not affect virtual machine performance

[Apr 22, 2005] Microsoft Virtual Server 2005

Dual core may be the buzz of the week, but Microsoft had some big announcements of its own. At this week's Microsoft management summit in Las Vegas, CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the beta version of Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1). The production version of SP1 is expected to be ready by the end of the year. See also Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Product Overview

Virtual Server 2005 is the cost-effective virtual machine solution designed for Windows Server 2003 to increase operational efficiency in software testing and development, server consolidation scenarios, and application re-hosting.

[Apr 22, 2005] eWEEK Labs Review Virtual Server 2005

Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 includes a comprehensive set of features, making it a good fit for Windows shops looking for an inexpensive server-virtualization solution. VS2005 Standard Edition, which supports four processors, is priced at $499. The $999 Enterprise Edition supports 32 CPUs. More information can be found at

Although SP1's 64-bit compatibility and support for Windows Server 2003 x64 editions is getting much of the press, of key significance to those outside of the Windows community is that the wall may be coming down: Ballmer announced its Virtual Server 2005 software will run non-Windows virtual machines.

[Feb 19, 2005] CNET News: Xen Lures Big-Name Endorsements

[Feb 19, 2005] Virtual Iron, VMware Virtually Duke it Out

[Jan 26, 2005]SearchEnterpriseLinux: Beyond the LAMP Stack--A Guide to Open Source Nagios, Xen & Asterisk

[Jan 20, 2005] IBM Offers Support for Xen

Slashdot Where is Transmeta Heading

Re bridge and features on virtual bridges

On Wed, 27 Nov 2002, Hakan Olsson wrote:

> On 27 Nov 2002, Alexander C.H. Lorenz wrote:
> > hey list, hi theo
> >
> > we are develop on an firewall solution.
> > now we have an idea for the brodge interface:
> >
> > we would create the bridge as an more user system.
> > let me explain:
> > when a customer use an openbsd bridge for other customers (A,B,C) is
> > this not a problem, all custumers from him can use the same Internet
> > interface, right?
> > When now the operator will give to customer C another net from ripe, can
> > he use the same bridge at this moment? At the moment not, an brigde isnt
> > an router.
> > okay, this I know, but has anybody at the moment an idea for create this
> > feature? The fw1 cant this ;)
> > We discuss at the moment an mac-nat, is this possible?
> Hi,
> I'm not at all sure I understand what you are trying to do, but this does
> not sound quite right to me. Ever heard of the term "layering violation"?
> ("mac-nat", huh?)

I think he is referring to the technique invented by Dan "Effugas"
Kaminsky and implementated in his Paketto Keiretsu.

Taken from his website
"Minewt is a minimal "testbed" implementation of a stateful address
translation gateway, rendered so entirely in userspace that not even the
hardware addresses of the gateway correspond to what the kernel is
operating against. Minewt implements what is common referred to as NAT, as
well as a Doxpara-developed technique known as MAT. MAT, or MAC Address
Translation, allows several backend hosts to share the same IP address, by
dropping the static ARP cache and merging Layer 2 information into the NAT
state table. Minewt's ability to manipulate MAC addresses also allows it
to demonstrate Guerilla Multicast, which allows multiple hosts on the same
subnet to receive a unicasted TCP/UDP datastream from the outside world.
Minewt is not a firewall, and should not be treated as such."

The presentation Black Ops of TCP/IP describes the basic ideas:

Read as well.

CIS 700-4 Machine Virtualization

Date Topic Readings Presenter
9/10 Organization (Brief overview). Milo + Zack
Slides in PPT
9/17 Survey and Foundations J. E. Smith and Ravi Nair. An overview of virtual machine architectures. 2003. PDF Sebastian
Slides in PPT
9/24 Full System Virtualization M. Rosenblum, et al. Complete Computer Simulation: The SimOS Approach, IEEE Parallel and Distributed Technology, 1995. PDF Aaron
Slides in PDF
10/1 E. Bugnion et al. Disco: Running Commodity Operating Systems on Scalable Multiprocessors. SOSP 1997. PDF Anne
10/8 Paravirtualization A. Whitaker, M. Shaw, and S. Gribble, Denali: Lightweight Virtual Machines for Distributed and Networked Applications, Usenix 2002. PDF
A. Whitaker, M. Shaw, and S. D. Gribble, Scale and Performance in the Denali Isolation Kernel, OSDI 2002. PDF.
Margaret and Bimohit
10/15 P. Barham, B. Dragovic, K. Fraser, S. Hand, T. Harris, A. Ho, R. Neugebauery, I. Pratt, and A. Wareld, Xen and the Art of Virtualization, in SOSP03. PDF Vlad
10/22 High-level VMs E. Meijer, J. Gough, Technical Overview of the Common Language Runtime. PDF Dmitrios
10/29 ISA Virtualization Ebcioglu, et al., "Dynamic Binary Translation and Optimization," IEEE Transactions on Computers, June 2001, pp. 529-548. PDF
Marc and Tingting
11/5 I/O Support Sugerman, et al., "Virtualizing I/O Devices on VMware Workstation's Hosted Virtual Machine Monitor," USENIX 2001. PDF Baohua and Matt
11/12 Applications Carl A. Waldspurger. Virtual Machines: Memory Resource Management in VMWare ESX Server. OSDI 2002. PDF (IMPORTANT NOTE: This lecture will be in Towne 337!!!) Dan Scales (VMWare)
11/19 T. Garfinkel. Terra: A virtual machine-based platform for trusted computing. SOSP 2003. PDF Yun
12/3 P. Levis and D. Culler. Mate: A Tiny Virtual Machine for Sensor Networks. ASPLOS 2002. PDF Madhukar
12/10 C. Sapuntzakis, R. Chandra, B. Pfaff, J. Chow, M. Lam, M. Rosenblum, Optimizing the Migration of Virtual Computers, OSDI 2002. PDF Prashant and Nitin

Golden's Rules Beyond the LAMP stack - A guide to open source Nagios, Xen & Asterisk

Xen: When one machine isn't enough

Xen is a virtualization product, allowing one physical machine to host a number of virtual machines. It works by enabling multiple copies of an operating system to run on a single machine simultaneously. The OSes don't all have to be the same, either.

Virtualization is particularly appropriate, given the massive computing power available through high-performance, multi-CPU Intel boxes. In the past, the performance penalty exacted by virtualization overwhelmed the power of typical machines, so that there was little point in using it. Today, however, so much computing power is available in a single box that performance issues are not really relevant.

Virtualization can be used in a number of scenarios:

  • Virtualization can increase security through isolation of an operating environment. Security is often a consideration for certain applications, requiring a machine with no other applications or users. By using virtualization, a safe operating environment can be made available.
  • Virtualization can reduce costs of operations. A dedicated operating environment can be offered without the need to dedicate a piece of hardware. This is useful when low-cost operations are needed among untrusting or unacquainted users. Commercial Web hosting is an obvious application for this scenario. If I'm running a company's Web site, I don't want to have to contend with changes implemented by other organizations; on the other hand, a very low-cost solution may be necessary. Virtualization makes it possible for a Web hosting company to satisfy both needs.
  • Virtualization can provide development support. Every application goes through a well-established lifecycle. First comes development, then quality assurance testing, perhaps an external beta and finally operational deployment. Of course, then the cycle begins again as enhancements or patches are developed, tested, and so on. In the past, dedicated machines were required to host every different version of an application, and different groups also need their own machines to perform their work. For an active project, hardware costs could mount very quickly. Virtualization allows different groups and versions to all run on a much lower number of boxes, reducing both hardware and administration costs.

    A commercial virtualization product, VMWare, has been very popular in the past; however, it is relatively expensive, making it unaffordable for many organizations. Xen will bring virtualization to a new user base. Unlike VMWare, Xen does not support hosting Windows, reducing its attractiveness somewhat. Xen may eventually support Windows as well, but even without that support, it's a very useful piece of technology. A sign of that is evinced by the recent funding of a commercial support arm for Xen, Xensource.

    Asterisk: Press 1 for Your PBX

    Office PBX systems have long been the province of proprietary and expensive solutions. Even though the functionality is extremely standardized -- I mean, how many ways are there to implement a phone tree? -- it has typically been delivered on a purpose-built hardware platform running proprietary software.

    Today, however, there is an open source alternative for office PBXs called Asterisk. Based on a Linux hardware platform with specialized cards from Digium (not open source, it must be said), Asterisk offers all the functionality delivered by its commercial counterparts.

    In terms of network topology, Asterisk offers extreme flexibility. It can connect to the outside world via analog or digital lines, and it can distribute calls internally via traditional phone cabling or over IP.

    What about hardware requirements? After all, if it takes a dual processor box with huge amounts of RAM, maybe Asterisk isn't worth it. According to Jason Becker, CEO of Coalescent Systems, an Asterisk service provider, Asterisk can be run on as little as a Pentium III machine. With Digium cards running at around $400, an office can have a functional PBX for much less than $1000. If you have an unused server hanging around, the price point can be even less. Coalescent, by the way, is the originator of AMP (Asterisk Management Portal), an open source app that makes configuring and running Asterisk much easier.

    Asterisk makes it possible for even a small company to offer sophisticated telephone services. Just as Nagios has spawned a number of extensions, AMP is an example of how Asterisk has been extended and improved by its user community.

    Golden's Rule

    None of the three products discussed above will scale to the heights their commercial counterparts can; however, each of them are very serviceable for a large percentage of real-world needs.

    Too often, open source is thought of as just the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl, Python or PHP) stack. There are many, many useful open source products that are available; some integrate with LAMP, others extend it. Don't think you've exhausted open source enlightenment when you've got your current applications migrated to LAMP.

  • [Jan 15, 2005] IBM Offers Support for Xen by Sean Michael Kerner

    Open source server virtualization got a boost this week with a new release from the Xen project and a new IBM commitment to help "harden" it.

    Xen is a virtual machine application that allows users to run multiple operating systems concurrently on the same physical box. Each OS gets its resource and partition allocation from Xen, which claims to have a low overhead by virtue of its "para-virtualization" technique.

    The 2.0.3 release is mostly a bug fix and stability point release, the third one since the 2.x branch was officially released in November 2004. The 2.x series introduced new flexibility in how the guest OS virtual Input/Output devices were configured, as well as a live migration feature that permits running operating systems to move between different nodes on a cluster without stopping them.

    Reiner Sailer, a member of the Secure Systems Department at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center, announced in a posting to the Xen developers' list this week that IBM plans to harden Xen in a number of different ways to allow it to support enterprise-class applications and security requirements.

    The first step Sailer detailed was the merging of IBM's sHype security architecture for hypervisors into Xen. Sailer noted that IBM currently implements sHype on an x86 IBM research hypervisor.

    "We now plan to contribute this to Xen by integrating our security architecture into it," Sailer wrote.

    SHype allows for a formal policy that helps control the flow of information between domains, as well as the sharing of virtual resources. Sailer explained the Xen port of IBM's sHype would leverage the existing Xen interdomain communication mechanism.

    According to Sailer's post, IBM plans to add strong security/isolation guarantees and enhancing Xen to support secure resource metering, verification and control. IBM will also apply its experience in automated security analysis in an effort to make Xen more robust. Lastly Sailer's list of IBM contribution notes said the company wants to make Xen suitable for Common Criteria evaluation.

    "We are confident that our work will significantly contribute to Xen in the security space and that it is a good fit with the Xen roadmap," Sailer wrote.

    Ian Pratt founder of the Xen project and currently a leader and chief architect of the Xen project, responded favorably to the IBM offer to contribute.

    "It'll be great to have IBM contributing to Xen security," Pratt wrote on a reply posted on the list.

    Other Xen users, however, weren't so sure that IBM's sHype would necessarily make Xen more secure. Xen user Peter Varga's said sHype is more about accounting and auditing than hardening.

    "Xen was designed from the beginning to provide strong isolation between domains," Varga told "IBM's sHype would add accounting, which is important for production systems."

    IBM isn't the only group pushing Xen virtualization further into the enterprise. Just last week, XenSource announced that it had received $6 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sevin Rosen Funds.

    Despite the backing, though, Xen is not currently part of the offerings from mainstream Linux distribution vendors Red Hat, Novell or Mandrake. Not yet at least.

    "It's likely that Mandrakesoft will integrate Xen in a release," Mandrakelinux founder Gakl Duval told "We are also evaluating it for a customer."

    Novell (Quote, Chart) also plans to include virtualization at some point soon, though it may not necessarily be Xen.

    "We haven't said we'll include Xen," Novell spokesperson Bruce Lowry told "We've said that We do plan to include virtualization technology in the future in our Linux offering, but we haven't specified what technology. We've also said we've looked at and are impressed with XEN technology," he added.

    Red Hat (Quote, Chart) doesn't currently provide virtualization capability in its Red Hat Enterprise Linux products. According to a Red Hat spokesperson, this is because currently available open source virtualization technologies are not yet mature enough for mission-critical deployment. That said, the spokesperson explained that Red Hat has been working with several open source projects, including UML, CKRM and XEN, to identify which technology to use.

    Though the spokesperson was unable to reveal the details of Red Hat's development plans, Red Hat is impressed with Xen.

    "We are very impressed with Xen technology and believe that it shows tremendous promise," the Red Hat spokesperson told "Given the increasing demand for server virtualization from our Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers, and the rapidly maturing open source code base, Red Hat is committed to providing a complete, enterprise-strength solution in the near future."

    Though Red Hat may not yet officially include Xen, another IBM contribution to the open source project may make it easier for Red Hat's community project Fedora Core users to utilize the technology.

    In a Jan. 14 developers' list posting, Jerone Young of IBM's Linux Technology Center posted a guide on setting up Fedora Core 3 with Xen.

    Xen is licensed under the GPL open source license and provides support for Linux 2.4.x and 2.6.x, as well as NetBSD running on x86.

    [Jan 10, 2005] COMPUTERWORLD/Novell, Red Hat Eye Virtualization for Linux

     Novell Inc. last week said it will soon detail plans to include server virtualization technology in its SUSE Linux operating system. Red Hat Inc. intends to do the same thing with its Linux distribution, and a leading contender for both vendors may be an open-source virtualization technology called Xen.

    Both Red Hat and Novell said they're also looking at a number of other virtualization technologies. Novell, for instance, is eyeing Acton, Mass.-based start-up Katana Technology Inc.'s promised virtualization software, which is expected to run on Linux machines. Beyond that, all Novell will say is that it plans to act quickly. "We want to be aggressive about it," said Ed Anderson, vice president of marketing at Novell.

    Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are already working with Xen, according to officials at each of those companies. Intel and AMD are particularly interested in ensuring that Xen works well with their chip-partitioning technologies, which are due out next year.

    Xen is available for download from the Web site of the University of Cambridge in England, where the 3-year-old open-source effort is based. The creators of Xen plan to open a company called XenSource Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., within the next few weeks to support users of the technology.

    Waiting for Acceptance

    But corporate users may not embrace Xen until mainstream IT vendors back the technology.

    That's the case for Bob Armstrong, director of technical services at Delaware North Cos., a Buffalo, N.Y.-based hospitality services provider. Armstrong uses VMware Inc.'s virtualization software to run 19 guest operating systems on two production servers, each with two CPUs. He has virtualized about 25% of his data center and plans to increase that to about half of his systems over the next 18 months.

    Armstrong said the technology from Palo Alto-based VMware, which is a division of EMC Corp., has allowed him to cut hardware spending by one-third. He also uses NetWare servers and will look at Novell's virtualization technology. "Anywhere we can leverage our Novell investment, we would love to do that," Armstrong said. "If we weren't a Novell shop, we wouldn't consider it."

    Xen supports Linux but not Windows, which means it's unlikely to be adopted by Carmine Iannace, manager of IT architecture at Welch Foods Inc. in Concord, Mass. Iannace is running VMware environments that support Windows, Linux and Solaris. "We want to have the ability to run Windows, Solaris and Linux on the same server, and we really haven't found anyone else who can provide that for us," he said.

    But Iannace added that the emergence of Linux vendors will increase competition in the virtualization market and help corporate users "by keeping a check on prices."

    Xen doesn't support Windows because it requires a modification to the operating system kernel. However, Intel's planned chip-partitioning technology and a similar offering due from AMD are expected to allow Windows to run in a virtualized environment without modifications.



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