Linux 2.6 Will Offer Infiniband I/O Support, Xen Virtualization

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At the Open Source Development Labs Enterprise Linux Summit in Burlingame, Calif., last week, Andrew Morton, the maintainer of the Linux kernel for the OSDL, said Infiniband server-interconnect support will be offered in the Linux 2.6.11 update due this month, and Xen virtualization will be added to the kernel as soon as the project developers at the University of Cambridge, England, polish it and prepare it for inclusion.

"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," Morton said during a session at the show. "It'll go in four weeks after we get it."

The Xen open-source project has growing ties with Red Hat, Novell and Hewlett-Packard, and has emerged as the leading contender in open-source virtualization for the Linux environment.

The fast-growing software category was pioneered by VMware, which provides its flagship ESX virtualization server software on Linux and Windows. VMware and competitors SWsoft and newcomer Virtual Iron are expected to launch enhanced and new Linux versions of their software at the upcoming LinuxWorld Expo in Boston.

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During the Enterprise Linux Summit, Linux creator Linus Torvalds did not discuss those server technologies, but said that he and the OSDL are urging hardware vendors to write better drivers to improve performance of laptops, 3-D graphics, USB devices and storage devices running on Linux.

Morton, second in command of the Linux kernel behind Torvalds, said the kernel is now fairly robust and will be updated every two months. Significant features will be added in the next year, including NFS 4 and clustering file support, possibly Red Hat's Global File System technology, he said. Market interest in open-source server technologies such as virtualizationwhich enables server consolidation and workload managementis strong.

Alex Zaltsman, managing director of Exigent, Morristown, N.J., said he welcomes Xen's inclusion in the Linux kernel. "There is open source for everything, so why not virtualization?"