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VMware announces a technology preview for transparent paravirtualization

Steve Herrod writes, "In case you didn't see the news, today we released a technology preview release of a "hosted platform" product that supports paravirtualized guests. I'm excited about this for two reasons:

  • First, we've been working on paravirtualization for quite a while with our first public presentation back in July 2005. It's great to have something for you all to download so you can see the fruits of our labors yourselves.

  • Second, this is the first official "technology preview" release for us, something we're hoping to do more regularly moving forward. The release is not supported, but we hope it gives insight into directions we're headed in future products, interesting ideas our engineers have cooked up, and early looks at technologies and APIs that our partners want to start working on."

VMware released the following information:

This Technology Preview release provides an implementation of the transparent paravirtualization interface discussed with the Linux community since 2005. You can download a fully functional virtual machine monitor that supports the paravirtualization interface and your choice of a paravirtualization-enabled Linux kernel from popular Linux distributions. This Technology Preview is intended for developers who wish to evaluate paravirtualization technology from VMware.

The transparent virtualization interface supports hypervisor diversity, allowing the same kernel to run on VMware's hypervisor, on other hypervisors, or on a native machine. This release provides support for paravirtualized guest operating systems running on VMware's hosted platform or a native machine using VMI as the paravirtualization interface. VMware continues its collaboration with the Linux community to develop a common paravirtualization interface specification that supports multiple hypervisors. With this common specification, Linux OS distributors and ISVs can support a single kernel image solution that is paravirtualized without compromising performance.

Because this Preview is based on a hosted virtual machine architecture, it is not intended to demonstrate I/O performance improvement for paravirtualization. It will, however, demonstrate improved performance on CPU intensive workloads. Subsequent implementations on a bare-metal hypervisor architecture, such as the VMware ESX Server, will demonstrate improved CPU and I/O performance due to paravirtualization.

Notes for this release:

  • This Technology Preview Release supports running on x86 and x86_64 linux hosts only. You need to download this on a linux host with kernel sources and gcc installed since pre-built modules are not provided with this release. Our testing of this release has been done on FC5 and Suse OSS 10.1 hosts. We encourage testing on other linux distributions and appreciate any feedback that you can provide.
  • The Paravirtualized appliances are 32-bit only and have been configured to refuse to boot on native (so they will not run as a guest OS on other VMware products not containing a VMI-capable hypervisor). If you wish to run these kernels on native hardware, recompile to get a kernel capable of running natively or in a hypervisor by turning off CONFIG_VMI_REQUIRE_HYPERVISOR in the kernel .config file.
  • The paravirtualized appliances are not able to power themselves off, because ACPI is not yet supported by VMI. VMI guests must be explicitly powered off via Troubleshoot->Power off and quit.
  • USB support is unstable and is not supported in this release. The accompanying appliances therefore have USB turned off by default.

Please send your feedback about this technology preview release to vmi-list.

Note: This is a Technology Preview and not supported product release. The intent of this message is for VMware staff to communicate information about the technology preview release to a select group of people and solicit their feedback. As such all caveats about technology preview releases apply to this version including no guarantees of introducing or supporting features in this technology preview release in any current or future VMware products.

To find out more or to download the files, go here.

Published Sunday, September 17, 2006 8:37 PM by David Marshall
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