Volume 4, Number 34 -- September 18, 2007

Novell to Add Hooks for VMware ESX Server into Linux Kernel

Published: September 18, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Commercial Linux distributor Novell announced at the VMworld 2007 trade show last week in San Francisco that it was working with VMware to make SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 work better with VMware's ESX Server hypervisor for X64 servers.

Novell's software engineers, who worked feverishly to get the open source Xen hypervisor integrated into SLES 10 and launched in July 2006, have now turned their attention toward improving how SLES 10 runs atop the ESX Server hypervisor. Novell and VMware have worked together to put support for VMware's Virtual Machine Interface (VMI), which is a means of communicating between the ESX Server hypervisor and its guest operating systems, into the SLES 10 kernel. Both the VMI modifications to the Linux kernel and an earlier set of technologies called paravirt-ops, for supporting paravirtualization using Xen and ESX Server hypervisors, have been accepted by the Linux development community. Once again, Novell is working hard to be first to offer commercial support for the VMI mods.

Right now, the VM modifications for supporting ESX Server are being publicly previewd, and are available through Novell's SLES 10 beta program. (And presumably in openSUSE as well.) Exactly when the VMI-enabled kernel will make it into the commercially supported SLES 10 release is not clear.

Back in June, with Service Pack 1 for SLES 10, Novell added a set of features for Linux called the Virtual Machine Driver Pack, which is a collection of network, bus, and block device drivers for supporting paravirtualized hypervisors, including Xen and ESX Server. (Paravirtual support in these hypervisors allows operating systems such as Linux and Windows to run without having their source code changed to account for hypervisors.)

In a related move last week, VMware said that it would be releasing the majority of a tools collection it calls the VMware Tools as open source software. It's part of a project called Open Virtual Machine Tools. These tools allow file transfers between guest operating systems and the host ESX Server, network and memory performance tweaking in virtualized environments, and other communication protocols to let guests on a machine talk to each other and ESX Server to talk to its guests. Novell, Red Hat, and Canonical are working to integrate these open source tools into their respective SLES 10, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu Linuxes.


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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
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