tug
Volume 8, Number 20 -- May 22, 2008

Sun Updates VirtualBox with Native Solaris Support

Published: May 22, 2008

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Server and operating system maker Sun Microsystems is probably best known for its Solaris Unix, even though its Java programming language is probably more well known than Sun itself--and not necessarily connected with Sun in the minds of end users, now that I think about it. Ditto for OpenOffice. And that will probably hold true for the company's recently acquired VirtualBox PC and server virtualization hypervisor, too, which Sun is building out after acquiring the program in February.

If you missed it, Sun acquired Innotek, a German maker of virtual machine hypervisors for supporting Windows, Linux, and MacOS operating systems that was actually founded a number of years ago to sell virtualization products for IBM's and Microsoft's jointly developed OS/2 operating system. In January 2007, the company took its hypervisor knowledge and created a desktop virtualization tool to take on VMware, Parallels, and others in the virtualizing of Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and other operating systems environments on 32-bit X86 and 64-bit X64 machinery.

Now, Sun is making VirtualBox, which is technically now called xVM VirtualBox in keeping with Sun's overall virtualization branding, a more appropriate platform not only for PCs, but also servers, and is also moving support for Mac OS X and Solaris hosts and guests from beta to production environments. The updated VirtualBox 1.6 apparently includes over 2,000 improvements and fixes, including support for Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris 2008.5 as guest operating systems within the host environment, which can be Linux, Windows, Solaris, or MacOS.

VirtualBox is not what is called a bare metal hypervisor, like VMware's ESX Server, which runs on a piece of hardware essentially as firmware and allows multiple operating systems to run side-by-side--and thinking that they own a whole piece of hardware, which they do not--atop the hypervisor. Other hypervisors run on top of an operating system (usually Windows or Linux), which is called the host, and then creates various guest partitions into which other operating systems can run. The main difference between the bare metal and host-guest approaches is that the guest operating system is a single point of failure for all of the partitions on the machine, while the less-complex hypervisor is (presumably) using less resources and more rugged, stable, and secure. (I have yet to see any data about this, but I learned a new word this week, hyperjacking, which means cracking hypervisor software and stealing whole system images or in some way messing with them.)

With the VirtualBox 1.6 update, Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris are now certified as either guest or host operating systems. For server customers, Sun has also added support for as many as 32 SATA disk drives per virtual machine, which Sun says is the first hypervisor to do this. That is a lot of disk capacity for a desktop machine and may be useful to test and development environments. VirtualBox 1.6 also includes optimized paravirtualization drivers for those operating systems that require this virtualization approach (such as Windows). And VirtualBox 1.6 does not require (like some products on the market) the hardware-assisted virtualization electronics in the latest X64 chips to work. (These are called AMD-V on Opterons and VT-d on Xeons and Core chips.) Running OS/2 in a partition does require this hardware, but that is more because OS/2 is a dead operating system that hasn't been changed in a decade. Sun says that VitualBox has "significant improvements to scalability," but finding out what these are is not an easy task. Whatever the enhancements are, I could not find them on the VirtualBox site or in the manual for the 1.6 code.

What VirtualBox does not do is run on Sparc, Itanium, or Power iron. The hypervisor approach used underneath VirtualBox could be ported to any of these chip architectures, and VirtualBox is an open source program, so nothing is stopping anyone from doing it.

What Sun has not yet done is explain how VirtualBox will fit in to its server virtualization plans. The xVM strategy includes the use of logical domains (LDoms) and Solaris containers on "Niagara" class machines and probably future "Rock" servers, containers on current UltraSparc-IV+ and Sparc64-VI servers, and containers on X64-based machines running Solaris. Sun is also supporting a native Xen hypervisor inside OpenSolaris 2008.5, and is working to allow Solaris 10 to run inside the official XenServer hypervisor from Citrix Systems or its derivatives buried inside Red Hat and Novell Linuxes. A true server implementation of VirtualBox--including for-fee support provided by Sun--has a place in the Unix market, particularly if VirtualBox is more flexible and less expensive than either ESX Server or Xen.


RELATED STORIES

Sun Delivers OpenSolaris Development Distro, Plus Support

PC Virtualization Provider Innotek Snapped Up by Sun

Sun Elaborates on its xVM Virtualization Plans



                     Post this story to del.icio.us
               Post this story to Digg
    Post this story to Slashdot


Sponsored By
GUILD COMPANIES

If You're Reading This,
Why Aren't You Getting It?

If you're working with Unix in your OS/400 or i5/OS shop, you need to subscribe to The Unix Guardian. This FREE weekly newsletter delivers hard news on enterprise Unix server platforms from Sun, HP, IBM, SCO, SGI, and others, as well as keeping track of developments in the open source BSD arena.

Sign up now and get breaking Unix news delivered straight to your desktop.

Start your FREE subscription today!

Subscribe. Read. Thrive.


Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team
Go to our contacts page and send us a message.

Sponsored Links

COMMON:  Join us at the annual 2009 conference, April 26 - 30, in Reno, Nevada
Vision Solutions:  Stop the Downtime Monkeys! Try Your Luck, Win Prizes!
NowWhatJobs.net:  NowWhatJobs.net is the resource for job transitions after age 40


 

IT Jungle Store Top Book Picks

Getting Started with PHP for i5/OS: List Price, $59.95
The System i RPG & RPG IV Tutorial and Lab Exercises: List Price, $59.95
The System i Pocket RPG & RPG IV Guide: List Price, $69.95
The iSeries Pocket Database Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Developers' Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket SQL Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Query Guide: List Price, $49.00
The iSeries Pocket WebFacing Primer: List Price, $39.00
Migrating to WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
iSeries Express Web Implementer's Guide: List Price, $59.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Development Studio for iSeries: List Price, $79.95
Getting Started With WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries: List Price, $89.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
WebFacing Application Design and Development Guide: List Price, $55.00
Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?: List Price, $49.00
The All-Everything Machine: List Price, $29.95
Chip Wars: List Price, $29.95


 
The Four Hundred
The Demographics of i Sales and Shipments

The i Edition of the BladeCenter S Finally Launches

HP More Than Doubles Services Biz with EDS Acquisition

Mad Dog 21/21: Saying No No No

A Word Cloud of IBM Server Brand Names

The Linux Beacon
NYSE Euronext Trades Mainframes and Unix for Linux and X64

Canonical Founder Calls for Synchronized Linux Releases

AMD Ships Low-Power Barcelonas as Two More Execs Exit

New and Updated Barcelona Boxes Debut from Sun

VMware Tweaks Virtualization Stack, Boasts of Greenness and Sales

Four Hundred Stuff
Symantec Combats Phishing with New Services Offering

BCD Slings a New C#-Based GUI with Catapult 7.0

SkyView and Innovatum Formalize Partnership with New Product

Profound Eliminates OLTP Requirement with Web Enablement Software

140 Apps and (Hopefully) Counting for i 6.1

Big Iron
NYSE Euronext Trades Mainframes and Unix for Linux and X64

Top Mainframe Stories From Around the Web

Chats, Webinars, Seminars, Shows, and Other Happenings

Four Hundred Guru
Writing Secure PHP Applications

Use PCOMM Scripts to Execute Remote PC Commands

Admin Alert: Things to Do When Adding Drives to a System

System i PTF Guide
May 17, 2008: Volume 10, Number 20

May 10, 2008: Volume 10, Number 19

May 3, 2008: Volume 10, Number 18

April 26, 2008: Volume 10, Number 17

April 19, 2008: Volume 10, Number 16

April 12, 2008: Volume 10, Number 15

The Windows Observer
Microsoft Patches Zero Day Flaw in Windows

HP More Than Doubles Services Biz with EDS Acquisition

Massive Expansion in Progress at Microsoft Data Centers

Microsoft Gives Customers a Break on New SMB Windows Packages

AMD Revises Opteron Roadmaps, Pushes Out Rev Gs

Four Hundred Monitor
Four Hundred Monitor's
Full iSeries Events Calendar

THIS ISSUE SPONSORED BY:

Vision Solutions
Centrify
Guild Companies
Arkeia
Vibrant Technologies


Printer Friendly Version


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Global Sales Save HP's Financial Cookies in the Second Quarter

NYSE Euronext Trades Mainframes and Unix for Linux and X64

Sun Updates VirtualBox with Native Solaris Support

HP Ships Insight Dynamics for Managing Physical and Virtual Machines

A Word Cloud of IBM Server Brand Names

But Wait, There's More:

IDC Cautiously Reaffirms IT Spending Projections for 2008 . . . Aberdeen Ranks the Top 100 Tech Companies . . . IBM Creates Value Packs for Power 570 and 595 Servers . . . Oracle Snaps Up Insurance Software Specialist AdminServer . . . SunGard to Boost DR Business with Acquisition of Strohl . . .

The Unix Guardian

BACK ISSUES





 
Subscription Information:
You can unsubscribe, change your email address, or sign up for any of IT Jungle's free e-newsletters through our Web site at http://www.itjungle.com/sub/subscribe.html.

Copyright © 1996-2008 Guild Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guild Companies, Inc., 50 Park Terrace East, Suite 8F, New York, NY 10034

Privacy Statement