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19 June 2008, 15:29

Red Hat Summit: embedded hypervisor and Web front-end for virtualisation environments

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Red Hat has presented an embedded hypervisor for hardware manufacturers (OEMs) based on the Linux kernel and KVM (Kernel Based Virtual Machine) at Red Hat Summit 2008 currently taking place in Boston. It supports Linux and Windows systems as guest operating systems and can not only be launched from CDs and hard drives, but also from 64 MB SB cards or USB sticks. Red Hat has also presented a new Virtual Infrastructure Management package, which provides a web interface for the management of virtualised IT environments. Both products are currently in the beta phase and should be released in the fourth quarter of this year.

Over the past few months, Red Hat has been publicly developing both of these products in its dedicated oVirt Project and as open source under GPLv2. Unlike Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5, this embedded hypervisor does not use Xen, but rather the more recent KVM. Whereas Xen operates as an abstraction layer between the hardware and the Dom0 kernel that handles guests, KVM makes the Linux kernel itself into a hypervisor so that it can have the usual direct access to the hardware.

oVirt Web interface for the management of your virtualisation landscape
Zoom oVirt Web interface for the management of your virtualisation landscape
Linus Torvalds integrated KVM in Linux kernel version 2.6.20 shortly after it was launched and since then KVM developers have steadily optimised and improved this virtualisation solution. According to Brian Stevens, Red Hat CTO and Vice President of Engineering, this was one of the main reasons for choosing to use KVM. Few parts of Xen remain in the official kernel; in addition, Xen Dom0 patches are generally only available for older kernel versions, which generally do not support recent hardware as well as the later kernels do.

The embedded hypervisor reportedly runs in 40 MB and is a competitor of VMware embedded/VMware ESX Server 3i, which is used by hardware vendors Dell, Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC), Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun, in their servers. Virtual Infrastructure Management controls the embedded hypervisor via libvirt. The web interface reportedly also facilitates the management of guest systems, the data carriers they use, and other virtualisation solutions sold by other vendors.

For more on Red Hat Summit 2008, see:


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