Debian Linux to Include OpenVZ Virtualization

Virtualization continued to capture attention last week as open source system utilization software from OpenVZ won operating system (OS)-level support from Debian Linux.

OpenVZ Project Manager Kir Kolyshkin told LinuxInsider the announcement was key for the open source project’s larger objective of incorporation into the Linux OS kernel. OpenVZ system virtualization is already included in Linux distributions from Mandriva and Gentoo, among others.

“I think it is … a pretty big step forward since Debian is not some minor distribution,” Kolyshkin said. “It’s used by a lot of people. It’s quite important for us.”

Solid Start

OpenVZ is a platform virtualization technology that allows users to run multiple, virtual servers on a single operating system, allowing more efficient server use for memory, application and other functions.

Launched last year with the opening of SWsoft’s Virtuozzo virtualization software code, OpenVZ is still supported by SWsoft, and has been focused on building toward inclusion in Debian Linux and the OS kernel from its inception, Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider.

“It seems they have a pretty good start out of the gate,” he said. “It looks like it’s a strong, healthy project.”

Referring to Xen virtualization software, which recently won inclusion in Suse Enterprise Linux 10 and will be part of Red Hat’s next major Linux release, Gardner said it is good to have more than one open source virtualization solution, adding the market will reward the most productive approaches.

Developers’ Input

To comply with Debian Free Software Guidelines, OpenVZ revised its licensing terms for user-level utilities from the Q Public License (QPL) to the GNU General Public License (GPL), but the move was also a correction of a mistake made by OpenVZ in trying to maintain more control of tools, according to Kolyshkin.

“We realized it was a mistake,” he said of the QPL licensing, which gives the copyright holder more control. “We [changed] not only to conform with Debian, but also because we are pretty confident about the way we are going and we think GPL will actually help us.”

Kolyshkin explained that the project, which has more than 3,000 message posts on its support forum since launching late last year, is hoping to gain even more input from developers and users with the GPL license.

Virtually Open

While the OpenVZ project is open source software, much of the popularity of SWsoft’s virtualization solutions center on the proprietary management software on top of that foundation, Illuminata Senior Analyst Gordon Haff told LinuxInsider.

The buzz around virtualization in enterprise IT right now increasingly includes references to Xen, OpenVZ, and others in addition to virtual machine giant VMware, however, the open source software model may not be as advantageous in virtualization as in other segments of software, he said.

“It’s low-level, system software,” he said. “That’s the thing that’s hard for a large development community to make meaningful contributions to.”

Kolyshkin, however, said the typical advantages of open source software development — more participants, higher flexibility and responsiveness — transfer to operating system virtualization software, and OpenVZ realizes the benefits and opportunities of it.

“Open source gives us an ability to cooperate better with external contributors and all of the users,” he said. “For us, that means more contributions and interactions.”

Its open source nature makes OpenVZ easier to try as well, he said, which helps to show more users the benefits of system virtualization, which is helping server administrators save time and money.

In addition, while OpenVZ’s goal of winning inclusion in the Linux kernel would certainly help the virtualization software project grow a wider audience and community of developers and users, the project also has ties to the telecommunications carrier industry, an area where there is huge economic interest in maximizing server use, noted Interarbor’s Gardner.

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