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By Howard Dyckoff

News in General

Xen gets pumped by Oracle and Sun

At Oracle OpenWorld, new VM management suites based on Xen's virtualization technology were spun out by the respective CEOs of Oracle and Sun. Both claimed their tools offered the kind of monitoring, management, and migration capabilities only available from VMware until now. Both VM suites are free to download.

First up was Oracle's Kevin Phillips, VP of Sales, who took the wraps off Oracle VM (or OVM) at the first Oracle OpenWorld keynote. Larry Ellison also spoke about OVM in his keynote.

OVM is based on the Xen hypervisor and includes a Web-browser-based management console that links to the Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) product. OVM is free to download, but Oracle was not clear on whether or not the source code would be available.

OVM has support for Linux and Windows guest operating systems, including Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5; RHEL3, RHEL4, and RHEL5; Windows 2003, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP. The Sun xVM offering, described below, supports RHEL, SUSE, Windows, and Solaris as guest operating systems.

Customers who obtain paid support for Oracle VM receive access to patches, fixes, and updates via Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN) and 24x7 global support. Pricing for enterprise-class support for Oracle VM system with up to two CPUs is priced at $499 per year per system and a system with unlimited CPUs priced at $999 per year.

Beyond the Oracle DB and Application Server, only the following Oracle Applications are "supported" with Oracle VM at this time:

For more info, go to: http://wiki.oracle.com/page/Oracle+VM and http://www.oracle.com/technology/tech/virtualization/index.html

Sun also got into the Virtualization act at Oracle OpenWorld with announcement of its xVM FOSS project at Jonathon Schwartz's keynote 2 days later. He demonstrated two upcoming products at the core of Sun's virtualization offerings: Sun xVM Ops Center, a unified management infrastructure; and Sun xVM Server, an enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor. Sun xVM will combine enhancements to Sun's existing technology portfolio with new offerings that will help customers to increase efficiency, while simplifying management and saving money. Additionally, Sun will launch www.openxvm.org, an open source community for developers building next-generation data center virtualization and management technologies.

The end-to-end software consists of Sun xVM Server and Sun xVM Ops Center. Sun xVM Server is based on the open-source Xen hypervisor, and is an open, cross-platform, high-efficiency, open-source hypervisor family of servers capable of hosting Windows, Linux, and Solaris OS guest instances. For the first time, Windows guests will be able to benefit from built-in Sun technologies like predictive self-healing and the ZFS file system. Sun xVM Ops Center is the management component -- a scalable management environment for the provisioning of thousands of physical and virtual machines running across multi-vendor x64/86 and SPARC systems.

Also significant is that xVM is released under GPL v3. "We are going to advance... with the GPL community, and this is an important part of our strategy..." said Sun VP Rich Green at OpenWorld.

From "Jonathon's Blog" on 11/14:

"...our xVM hypervisor is a very lightweight kernel that inherits proven virtualization technologies (like ZFS, FMA, Dtrace and Crossbow) from the Solaris kernel - while supporting Linux, Windows and Solaris as guests - imbuing guest OS's with the properties of the host hypervisor.

We also announced a variety of partners today, most importantly Red Hat, who'll offer reciprocity with their hypervisor, like Microsoft."

From the Sun press release on xVM:

"Red Hat and Sun are collaborating on virtualization and... customers seeking a free and open source virtualization platform that ensures interoperability and avoids proprietary vendor lock in, can look to Sun and Red Hat solutions. Sun supports Red Hat's Linux Automation strategy and Red Hat supports Sun's xVM strategy, both of which extend the reach and value of open source. Red Hat and Sun will ensure customers mutual certification and customer support across [their] virtualization offerings. In addition, Sun and Red Hat are committed to... libvirt (www.libvirt.org), an open source community project for cross-platform virtualization management."

Some of the Oracle presenters thought that Sun was a bit insensitive and had sprung the xVM announcement on Oracle organizers. But a follow-up discussion with mangers from the Oracle Linux group revealed that Sun had discussed xVM announcement before Oracle OpenWorld had begun, and that it was no surprise. Wim Coekaerts of Oracle felt that the Xen community would get to see both VM offerings and would get to decide which features should be included in the Xen source tree.

Sun intends to invest about $2 billion in developing and marketing vXM. Sun said that its Ops Center, expected in December, has already been validated on hundreds of system configurations.

You can watch the whole keynote here:

Related Information:

XenSource's XenServer 3.1.0: A tour with ups and downs:

How Xen works and stacks up against other virtualization technologies:

Red Hat EL 5.1 Enables Broad Server Virtualization

Red Hat has released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1, with integrated virtualization. This release provides the industry’s broadest deployment ecosystem, covering standalone systems, virtualized systems, appliances and Web-scale "cloud" computing environments. Fedora 8 was also released at the same time. (See Distros section.)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization includes the ability to perform live migration, allowing customers to seamlessly move running applications from one server to another, maximizing resource utilization in the face of changing business requirements. Red Hat Enterprise Linux's Advanced Platform includes high-availability clustering, storage virtualization, and failover software to provide enhanced levels of application availability, for both physical and virtual servers. Red Hat worked closely with AMD and Intel to provide support for the new hardware performance features such as Nested Page Tables in the new release.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux's deployment flexibility uniquely allows customers to deploy a single platform, virtual or physical, small or large, throughout their enterprise by providing one platform that spans the broadest range of x86, x86-64, POWER, Itanium, and mainframe servers, regardless of size, core count, or capacity. Customers can gain dramatic operational and cost efficiencies when compared to proprietary solutions, and fully integrated virtualization is included at no additional cost, which amplify its benefits. Notably, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1 provides enhanced support for virtualization of Microsoft Windows guests, providing significant performance improvements for Windows XP, Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 2008 beta guests.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1 is immediately available to customers via Red Hat Network, Red Hat's management and automation platform. Red Hat Network provides customers a common platform for managing both physical and virtual servers, eliminating the need for organizations to acquire, manage and train their staff on new tools to manage virtual servers. Red Hat Network allows customers to monitor and manage their servers throughout the entire lifecycle.

Red Hat also announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.6, the 6th update to its Red Hat 4.x product line. This release includes: OS package updates and install-time support for new hardware; availability of updated Extras ISO images with third party package updates; kernel features including: added getcpu system call on ia64 and added /proc NUMA maps support. Read the release announcement and release notes for further details. The ISO images of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.6 are available to existing RHEL subscribers via Red Hat Networks.

RHEL On Demand on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Red Hat announced in November the beta availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a Web service that provides resizeable compute capacity in the cloud. This collaboration makes all the capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux available to customers on Amazon's proven network infrastructure and data centers.

The idea is to provides everything needed to develop and host applications. Amazon provides the hosting infrastructure and RH provides the OS and support, all on a usage basis.

This also demos RH's virtual appliance technology and also is a major foray into the SAAS (Software as a Service) market. The SAAS model is appealing to small and new businesses and non-profit organizations, and could represent a significant revenue opportunity for Red Hat.

According to the Amazon Web Services home page (http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=3435361):

"This collaboration between AWS and Red Hat marries all the capabilities of both RHEL and EC2. Now developers can pay as they go for resizeable compute capacity in the cloud while accessing the Red Hat Network management service, world class technical support, and over 3,000 certified applications."

RHEL on Amazon EC2 is currently available as a restricted beta but will go public in December or January. Server use prices are $19/month per user and $0.21, $0.53, or $0.94 for every compute hour used on Amazon's EC2 service, depending on compute instance size chosen - small, large, or extra large - plus bandwidth and storage fees.

More information about the joint service is available at http://www.redhat.com/solutions/cloud/.


December Events

Agile Development Practices Conference
December 3-6, 2007, Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, FL

Gartner Enterprise Architect Summit
December 5-7, Las Vegas, NV

January Events

Sans Security 2008
January 11-19, New Orleans, LA

SPIE Photonics West 2008
19 - 24 January, San Jose, CA

MacWorld Conference and Expo
January 14-18, San Francisco


Community Welcomes Fedora 8

Fedora 8 enhancements include the expanded ability for users to create custom spins or appliances, increased security features, a new look and feel, and numerous technical advances.

First established in Fedora 7, the ability to create custom spins or appliances that allow users to create a combination of specific software to meet individual requirements has been expanded in Fedora 8. Fedora 8 marks the debut of three new spins: Games, Developer, and Electronic Lab spins offer prepared customization for users with specific interests in gaming, development, and electronics applications, respectively. The new Fedora spins exemplify the easy customization of the Fedora Project's newest distribution and demonstrate the freedom, ability, and desire of the community of developers to remix Fedora in the ways most useful to them.

Fedora 8 offers both GNOME- and KDE-based Live CDs and a general-purpose installable DVD for workstations and servers. It also includes improved Live USB support, making it possible to install, boot, and run the entire distribution off of a USB key without touching the computer's hard disk at all.

Fedora 8 incorporates a wide array of technical advances. This distribution becomes the first to enable PulseAudio, a sound server that acts as a proxy between all of a user's sound applications by default. With PulseAudio, users can enjoy features such as different volumes for different applications, hot-plugging support for USB sound devices, and support for audio over the network. Fedora 8 additionally includes improved graphical tools for firewall configuration, enhanced printer management, and an update for Bluetooth integration. Network Manager, the easy-to-use wireless configuration tool written by Red Hat and adopted by many prominent Linux distributions, has also been updated.

Fedora 8 boasts an entirely new default look and feel on the desktop, all based on community artwork. The Fedora 8 theme of "infinity" includes a default background that changes shades, growing brighter or darker in accordance with time of day.

For more information on Fedora 8, to download the distribution, or to join in this community effort, please visit http://fedoraproject.org/.


A GA release of MEPIS 7 is expected by mid-December.

FreeNAS Beta

The second beta release of FreeNAS 0.686, a FreeBSD-based operating system providing free Network-Attached Storage (NAS) services is available for testing. Beta 2 includes support for USB drives and many bug fixes.

FreeNAS is available here: FreeNAS-i386-liveCD-0.686b2.iso .

Fourth release candidate for NetBSD 4.0

NetBSD 4.0 Release Candidate 4 has been updated to handle RAID volumes larger than 4GB. This RC also has several bug fixes, including a transition mechanism from Sendmail to Postfix, a security issue in OpenSSL, a bug in MTRR handling causing a reboot on amd64 when starting the X server, a security issue in FAST_IPSEC, and a heap corruption in rpc.lockd.

The RAID changes use bio(4), and this can cause a compatibility break on 32-bit platforms. If you are using bio(4), you need a new bioctl utility for the RC4 kernel. If you have updated only the kernel, either rebuild bioctl after updating the headers in /usr/include, or use a new binary from the release build. This does not affect upgrading from previous releases of NetBSD, as no former release has bio(4).


Dell to sell Servers with Solaris Installed

Dell announced that it had formally certified Sun's Solaris on its servers. By Spring of 2008, Dell will offer its servers pre-installed with RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), Solaris and -- this just in -- Ubuntu to customers.

For alternate opinions see:

Winners and Losers in Dell Deal with Sun

Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

Bio picture

Howard Dyckoff is a long term IT professional with primary experience at Fortune 100 and 200 firms. Before his IT career, he worked for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine and before that used to edit SkyCom, a newsletter for astronomers and rocketeers. He hails from the Republic of Brooklyn [and Polytechnic Institute] and now, after several trips to Himalayan mountain tops, resides in the SF Bay Area with a large book collection and several pet rocks.

Howard maintains the Technology-Events blog at blogspot.com from which he contributes the Events listing for Linux Gazette. Visit the blog to preview some of the next month's NewsBytes Events.

Copyright © 2007, Howard Dyckoff. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 145 of Linux Gazette, December 2007