Linux 2.6 Kernel To Include Xen Virtualization Technology

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At the Enterprise Linux Summit, Andrew Morton -- Linus Torvalds' right-hand man and maintainer of the Linux kernel for the Open Source Development Labs (ODSL) -- said he will incorporate the Xen virtualization code "in the near future. "

He would not say if the virtualization code will be rolled into the Linux 2.6.11 update. Available in February, that update will support Infiniband.

"I came this close to merging Xen [into the Linux kernel] a couple of months ago, but we decided it was not the way to do it," said Morton, noting that the Xen developers need to polish the code. "It'll go in four weeks after we get it."

An open-source project out of University of Cambridge in England, Xen has growing ties with Red Hat, Novell and Hewlett-Packard and has emerged as the leading contender for providing open-source virtualization for the Linux environment.

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Morton said there is significant demand for the capabilities enabled by virtualization, including server consolidation and workload management. Virtualization enables customers to run multiple virtual machines -- and thus multiple operating systems and applications -- on a single server.

The fast-growing software category was pioneered by VMWare, which provides its flagship ESX virtualization server software on Linux and Windows. VMWare -- as well as competitors SWSoft and newcomer Virtual Iron -- are expected to launch enhanced version of their products for the Linux environment in two weeks' time at LinuxWorld Expo.

Torvalds and Morton, the top two managers of the Linux kernel who work for the OSDL, now plan to release interim updates, with new features and patches, every two months. That's a marked difference from past practice. "The traditional model of Linux kernel development in the past 10 years is we make available an unstable kernel, then a stable kernel," every two- or three-year period, said Morton.

Neither Torvalds or Morton would specify the core features for the next update, but Morton did say a future build will include an NFS 4 updated file system, clustering file support and Infiniband. Torvalds said the OSDL plans to include improved support for laptops and 3-D graphics by getting more hardware vendors to develop USB drivers and other drivers for Linux.

The Linux 2.6.10 kernel was made available in December.