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Virtual machine added to mainline Linux kernel

Dec 12, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

The 2.6.20 Linux kernel will include a driver aimed at allowing user-space processes to exploit virtualization capabilities in modern 64-bit x86 Intel and AMD processors. The KVM (kernel-based virtual machine) patch was submitted in late October by Avi Kivity, and committed by Linus Torvalds to the 2.6 tree this week.

An article published by Heise Onlne notes that Kivity's patch was accepted into the kernel after only two months of discussion. The better-known Xen virtual machine, meanwhile, waited in vain for over two years. Other non-mainline Linux virtualization technologies include OpenVZ and Vserver.

In describing his patch to the Linux kernel mailing list, Kivity wrote, “Using this driver, a process can run a virtual machine (a “guest”) in a fully virtualized PC containing its own virtual hard disks, network adapters, and display.”

In classic Unix fashion, the KVM driver represents the virtual machine as a file, /dev/kvm, and runs the guest OS as a simple userspace process. As with Xen, a modified version of the QEMU emulator handles peripheral interface communications for the virtualized PC.

The KVM driver apparently supports Intel's “Vanderpool” virtualization technology, as well as AMD's AMD-V, Pacifica/Presidio, and Secure Virtual Machine (SVM) technologies.

In addition to being included in the 2.6.20 kernel, the KVM patch can be built easily as a module for the current 2.6.19 kernel, according to Heise.

The 2.6.20 kernel will also include a /sys/hypervisor patch aimed at providing a consistent interface for virtualization technologies such as Xen. Xen's hopes of achieving mainline status should rise once it has been ported to the hypervisor interface, Heise suggests.

The full Heise story can be found here.

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