Canonical Sets Ubuntu 8.10, Taps KVM Virtualization
Published: March 4, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Commercial Debian Linux distributor Canonical has given its moniker to the next iteration of its Ubuntu Linux, code-named "Intrepid Ibex" in keeping with the silly names the Ubuntu project uses and probably coming to market as Ubuntu 8.10 in October. The company has also talked a bit more about the Ubuntu 8.10 feature set, its use of KVM virtualization, and a reseller deal it has with IBM to peddle the DB2 Express-C development database.
Canonical's chief executive officer and Ubuntu project founder, Mark Shuttleworth, made the Intrepid Ibex announcement to the Ubuntu development list. "During the 8.10 cycle we will be venturing into interesting new territory, and we'll need the rugged adventurousness of a mountain goat to navigate tricky terrain," Shuttleworth explained in his posting announcing the upcoming release. "Our desktop offering will once again be a focal point as we re-engineer the user interaction model so that Ubuntu works as well on a high-end workstation as it does on a feisty little subnotebook. We'll also be reaching new peaks of performance--aiming to make the mobile desktop as productive as possible."
Ubuntu 8.10's feature set will be set at the Ubuntu Developer Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, between May 19 and 23. Those members of the Ubuntu community who can't travel to Prague in May can pipe up with their ideas at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UDS-Intrepid. Wireless support, which has been weak for many Linux distributions, is a focal area for the Intrepid Ibex release. (Roam, if you want to. . . . )
Next month, Canonical plans to release Ubuntu 8.04, which is code-named "Hardy Heron" and which has been in development since last fall, when Ubuntu 7.10, the "Gusty Gibbon," came to market. (Development efforts actually predate the Ubuntu 7.10 launch by a month.) Ubuntu 7.10 had a 3D graphical user interface, support for the Windows NTFS file system, embedded AppArmor security, an improved Samba print and file server, and the integration of the so-called tickless Linux kernel, which allows Linux to run with less power. Ubuntu 8.04 will be Canonical's second Long Term Support, or LTS, release, which is important to commercial clients that don't want to be messing around with new Linuxes twice a year. The LTS releases are special variants of Ubuntu that are supported on desktops for three years and on servers for five years, and they include much deeper and broader application certification as well as longer support contracts.
One of the key new features in Ubuntu 8.04 is the integration of the Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, developed by a company called Qumranet and commercialized in virtual desktop environments as SolidICE. (See KVM Developer Launches as Qumranet with Desktop Virtualization for more on the commercial-grade KVM software.) Thus far, Qumranet has not developed a server variant of its KVM hypervisor, but it is obviously thrilled that other Linux distributors are looking at it. Canonical is probably the most committed to KVM for servers right now, and Red Hat and Novell are not far behind. KVM was added to the Linux 2.6.20 kernel, and ports are underway for Linux running on Power, Itanium, and mainframe processors; Red Hat's Fedora 7, Novell's openSUSE 10.3, and Canonical's Ubuntu 7.04 all incorporated early versions of KVM hypervisors. Red Hat and Novell have thus far emphasized VMware's ESX Server hypervisor as well as the embedded Xen hypervisor that is in their respective Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 versions. But according to a the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, the Ubuntu community is backing the KVM approach rather strongly for servers, which makes sense given that Ubuntu likes open source and the two other big Linuxes have backed Xen. "With the upcoming LTS release, KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), will be the virtualization tool of choice for the Server Team. KVM works on X86 hardware containing virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V), using modified QEMU. Ubuntu 8.04 will also include tools to help manage the KVM." According to Soren Hansen, virtualization specialist for the Ubuntu Server Team, also writing in the newsletter, says that the project is working to make the libvirt virtualization management tools play better with KVM; this is also the tool used to manage Xen hypervisors.
In addition to making the announcement about the future Ubuntu distributions, Canonical also announced that it has added IBM's DB2 Express-C 9.5 development database to the Ubuntu Partner Repository, making it easier for Ubuntu users to deploy and use that database in their projects. Canonical has also inked a deal with IBM that allows it to sell support services for the database, which is a closed-source but freely distributed program. Support costs $3,750 per year.
How Is Ubuntu Doing as a Server Platform?
Ubuntu Hits Launch Target for 7.10 Linux Release
KVM Developer Launches as Qumranet with Desktop Virtualization
Canonical, VMware Create Skinny Linux for Virtual Appliances
Ubuntu Opens Up Development for LTS 8.04, Due in April 2008
Ubuntu Puts Out Fifth Alpha of Future Linux
Sun, Canonical Integrate Java, GlassFish, and NetBeans into Ubuntu
Canonical Updates Ubuntu Linux with 7.04 Release
Ubuntu to Support Linux on Sparc T1 Chips
Ubuntu, Kubuntu Projects Put Out 'Dapper Drake' Betas
Forget Goobuntu as a Commercial or Freebie Linux Distro
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Why File-based System Backup is your Best Bet
File-based, Full System Backups Create Advantages Over Image-based Backups
File-based backups used for system recovery have been around for years. And, until recently, file-based meant a long, painstaking, manual process capable of turning off even the most meticulous system administrator. Image-based backups, then, seemed to solve this problem by eliminating the need to deal with recreating partitions, filesystems, volume groups or other details related to the system's storage configuration. In an image-based restore, the storage configuration and data from the original system are restored as a whole to the new system. While this method produced fast recovery times, Linux administrators began to realize disk image backup was more of an alternative method with its own set of problems and limitations than an answer to the challenges of manual, file-based backup.
Limitations to Disk Image Backup
Since disk image backups make no distinction between files and instead backup the hard drive as a group of sectors, bare-metal recovery can be quick and easy by simply rewriting a duplicate image onto a new, identical disk drive. A fine solution, as long as the old system and new system are indeed identical in types, sizes, locations- basically the exact same hardware. Any differences in hardware, however, could render an image backup unusable.
Many system administrators know first-hand the frustration caused by the inflexibility of image-based backup. "What I hear time and time again from clients is that they switched from image-based backup to file-based because of the limitations they encountered when trying to restore a backup onto different hardware." said Manuel Altamirano, Storix Software Director of Sales and Marketing. "Administrators assume they will have access to identical hardware after a disaster or for migration when the time comes. Unfortunately, so often this is not the case. Companies are left with unplanned, excessive downtime."
Even more advanced disk image backup products, that offer alterations to disk partition tables, still fail to understand more advanced and increasingly common storage configuration tools such as the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) or Software RAID (meta-disks) that also must be altered to match new hard disk configuration before data can be restored. In these cases, users must manually alter and build the configuration, usually through command-line utilities and manual editing of configuration files. This also requires users to have knowledge on how to make a system bootable. Rebuilding a system using a disk image backup requires experienced Linux administrators and could take days, weeks or longer resulting in crippling downtime for an organization.
Advances in File-based Backup
File-based backup tools today can automate the process of recording every aspect of a system separately such as disk, filesystem and boot loader configuration while supporting all popular Linux storage configuration tools (i.e. LVM and Software RAID). This detailed backup information is used to greatly simplify the recovery of a failed system from scratch, even if hardware differences are detected on the new system. Furthermore, systems rebuilt from the ground up using file-based backups often times operate better than the original because there is virtually no fragmentation when the restore is completed.
Flexible recovery based on file-based backup
File-based backup products have the ability to reconfigure disks, partitions, filesystems and other storage solutions to fit onto new hardware. This ability to adapt a backup to fit new hardware or alter the system's storage configuration is called "Adaptable System Recovery" or ASR. Only backup solutions that gather details about the original system have enough information and flexibility to make the ASR process of altering configuration so simple even novice Linux administrators can quickly perform the recovery. Once new configuration is completed, data files from the backup are easily restored onto the new hardware. Finally, the system is made bootable based on the new hardware.
The revolutionary adaptability of ASR found in file-based backup tools creates further added value for system administrators because these products can now be used for far more than just reactive tasks such as disaster recovery.
Applications for ASR:
- Disaster Recovery- restore systems in minutes after a crash, even if hardware is not the same as the original
- Provisioning/cloning- a single backup "golden image" can be used to provision different systems, even if disks, adapters or other elements are not the same.
- Storage software migration- change configuration on the same system for improved performance and availability
- Hardware migration- install the same system onto newer or virtual systems
New system backup management features
Products using file-based system backup have not neglected to consider a system administrator's daily backup responsibilities. These products now incorporate functionality for backup management as well as some of the most advanced features seen in backup and recovery solutions for Linux and AIX. Some advanced features designed to simplify daily backup management for system administrators include:
- Graphical, Web and Command line interfaces
- Local and remote backups to disk or tape devices
- Sequential and random tape autoloader support
- Support for SAN storage solutions
- Tivoli Storage Manager integration
- Oracle database backup support
- Backup data encryption
- Multiple compression levels
File-based Backup Solutions Provide Most Bang for the Buck
Inexpensive products exist that combine both file-based backup management and ASR in one program. Look for a file-based system backup product with advanced features like those mentioned above. In turn, regular backup responsibilities such as automatically verifying backups and encrypting backup data will become much easier. Additionally, combined ASR capabilities greatly reduce downtime and required expertise for both reactive (even bare metal) and proactive recovery projects. File-based system backup and recovery solutions are an economical and more comprehensive option than their image-based counterparts.
About the Author
Anne Stobaugh is an independent contractor working with Storix Software to educate Linux and AIX users on the advantages of file-based backup and recovery solutions.
Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Kevin Vandever,
Shannon O'Donnell, Victor Rozek, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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