Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is a Kernel-based virtual machine for Linux

Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is a full virtualization solution for Linux on x86hardware containing virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V). It comes with a loadable kernel module, kvm.ko, which provides the core virtualization infrastructure and a processor-specific module, kvm-intel.ko or kvm-amd.ko. Using KVM, one can run multiple virtual machines running unmodified Linux or Windows images. Each virtual machine can have its own private virtualized hardware: a network card, disk, graphics adapter, etc. The kernel component of KVM is included in mainline Linux as of the 2.6.20 kernel.

What does this all mean? For one, it is open source and ready for you to play with. KVM also turns Linux into a hypervisor, which can allow other guest operating systems to run in its space. It could potentially be an alternative to VMware one day. This flexibiliy is where VARs can make a difference. VARs are in the position not only to help roll out and support the product, but also to optimize it and make it better.

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