Mandriva's Corporate Server 4.0 Comes to Market
Published: September 26, 2006
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Back in May, commercial Linux distributor Mandriva opened up its beta testing program for its Corporate Server 4.0 Linux implementation, and now the software is available for purchase. Corporate Server 4.0 is Mandriva's competitive answer to Novell's launch of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 in August and the impending launch of Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 5, due at year's end and in beta now.
Corporate Server 4.0 is based on the Linux 2.6.12 kernel, which is a bit behind the kernel that is used in SLES 10 and will be used in RHEL 5. How much of a difference this makes is debatable. The important thing is that like those competing Linux platforms, Corporate Server 4.0 has server virtualization woven into its very fabric. While Red Hat and Novell have integrated the open source Xen hypervisor developed by XenSource and a number of big-name contributors to the project, Mandriva is taking a three-pronged approach to virtualization.
Specifically, Corporate Server 4.0 comes with the Xen hypervisor integrated within the operating system. Xen creates virtual machine partitions, which means a partition gets a whole software stack inside it.
But the software also includes support for OpenVZ partitioning technology, which is akin to the container partitions in Sun Microsystems' Solaris Unix or jails in the open source BSD Unixes. With OpenVZ virtual servers, servers are virtualized at a higher level, and in fact, they share an operating system kernel and a file system, even though the partitions look and feel and act like completely isolated machines as far as applications and user access are concerned. OpenVZ project is an open source implementation of SWsoft's Virtuozzo partitioning technology. OpenVZ is supported on Linux only, while Virtuozzo works on Linux and Windows systems, has extra systems management goodies, and costs money. Finally, Corporate Server 4.0 supports VMware virtual machine partitions. It is unclear if Mandriva is actually distributing the VMware Server freebie version of that company's virtualization software inside its Corporate Server 4.0 distribution.
IBM, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Novell, Red Hat, Virtual Iron, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun are all contributors to the Xen project, and all of these vendors also support VMware's products in one form or another.
Corporate Server 4.0 runs on 32-bit X86 and 64-bit X64 servers, including both single-core and dual-core processors. Mandriva singled out Intel's "Dempsey" Xeon 5063 and "Woodcrest" Xeon 5100 processors for two-socket servers for special attention in its announcement. The distribution supports Intel's VT hardware-assisted virtualization feature, which is included in the Woodcrest chips, and it is reasonable to assume that Corporate Server 4.0 also supports AMD's AMD-V equivalent technology for its Opteron processors. The distribution also supports storage area networks created by HP and NEC. The distro does not run on Itanium, Power, or other platforms. It supports the latest Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) disk drives, too, and adds support for printers from Ricoh and Xerox to the list of machines supported in the prior version, Corporate Server 3.0. Mandriva also says that Corporate Server 4.0 will support future hardware platforms that are slated to be released in 2007, which presumably means quad-core processors from Intel and AMD.
The new Mandriva Linux implementation for servers provides remote access through OpenSSH and uses the rsbac 1.2 kernel access control system. The distribution also includes the OpenLDAP 2.3 directory server, the Kerberos 5 network authentication server, the Squid proxy server, the Apache 2.2 Web server, and the MySQL 5.0 and PostgreSQL 8.1 open sources databases. The distribution also contains the NFS 3 and 4 file systems, the Samba 3.0.22 file server, the CUPS 1,2 print server, the Sendmail and Postfix email servers, and the Cyrus-IMAP 2.2 and Courier-IMAP 3.0 POP and IMAP servers.
Corporate Server 4.0 is available as a compiled program with 30 days of evaluation technical support. The base license, which costs 250 euros, comes with one month of unlimited phone-based technical support and one year of Web-based technical support. For three years of maintenance, the price rises to 330 euros, and a five-year maintenance contract costs 530 euros. With Corporate Server 3.0, Mandriva announced a five-year support contract, which was done to allow enterprises to pick the platform and not mess with it for a long period of time. The company is continuing this practice with Corporate Server 4.0.
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