By James Cooley - February 14 2007 tags: hosting xen kvm

Reading about the recent introduction of KVM to the Linux kernel got me interested in virtualization again. I found a useful reference on Xen vs. KVM that got me reading. Previously you had to modify a virtualized guest operating system (OS) which can lead to tortured upgrade dance. The good thing is this is now possible to run an unmodified OS (Linux, Windows, whatever) with commodity hardware virtual machine compatible processors.

This is great news because as a developer if you step outside the standard commodity LAMP stack the number of hosting companies you can choose from decreases and have to start doing things yourself. This can be fun if you have the time but it can be challenging to get a consistent environment.

We're one step closer to consistent commodity development, staging and production environments. By putting /etc and other user modifiable directories in subversion I will be able see what I've changed from the standard distro easily. An integrity checked like Tripwire will help in picking the directories to version. Very cool.

Amazon may have gone too early with Xen-based EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) as it is getting easier for other hosting companies to get into that game if you're able to deal with a vanilla OS - no special templates required. Hopefully you will be able to drop your pre-configured OS instance into a server farm without having to tweak it at all in the near future.

Depending on you current processor you may well stay with Xen or VmWare but it is good to know that KVM will be part of the next Linux distro release cycle you can start running unmodified guest OS distros hopefully this year. It will be great to be able to startup unmodified Gentoo, Ubuntu and Fedora instances on a single dedicated box where necessary. Consistency and variety - virtualization is pretty cool.