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VMware Opens Up API to Partners 265

mstansberry writes "This week VMware opens up its source code to its x86 partners, calling it the best mix of open-source and proprietary. While the general public won't get a look at the source code, the likes of IBM, HP, Red Hat and others will. Releasing an API is a way for a company to bring more people into the fold and to get more applications integrated within the platform. But from the looks of last quarter's financial reports, VMware doesn't need much help getting people on board."
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VMware Opens Up API to Partners

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  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:26PM (#13280048)
    ...will jump on the vmware bandwagon. With Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server (especially Mac OS X Server in the context of what I'm about to discuss) supporting x86, it would be trivially easy to have Mac OS X Server run in a supported fashion in a vmware environment on any variety of hardware. Stay with me for a moment: similar to the impact of soon being able to get an Apple desktop or, especially, laptop system that runs Mac OS X plus any x86 OS, including Windows, in a sure-to-exist virtual machine/vmware-like environment at near-native speed of the underlying hardware, having Mac OS X Server run on vmware in a server environment - somewhat the reverse - would be a huge coup for Apple in the datacenter.

    Yes, yes, we all know that Apple, at least at the outset, will not "allow" Mac OS X to run on non-Apple hardware. Aside from some semi-insane but actually interesting prognostications from John Dvorak [pcmag.com] (and TPM panic aside), Apple is primarily talking about the desktop/consumer marketplace when it says this. There is little to nothing to stop Apple from partnering with an enterprise x86 vendor (or a partner such as vmware) to provide a vehicle via which to run Mac OS X Server on hardware other than Apple's 1U, single-power-supply Xserve.

    Mac OS X will only run exclusively on Apple hardware as long as its good for Apple. As soon as it becomes desirable to allow Mac OS X (or Mac OS X Server) to run on possible non-Apple hardware configurations, you had better believe they'll do it. That's probably part-and-parcel to this whole x86 transition strategy. Further, consider that individual market segments may be appropriate for this first, such as enterprise datacenter and server markets. Consider also that while Mac OS X is $129 ($69 government and education), Mac OS X Server is $499/$999 ($249/$499 government and education), meaning that Mac OS X Server has a price point much more in line with allowing Mac OS X Server to run sans Apple hardware and still be a profit center. And as it matures, Mac OS X Server is an increasingly powerful, very attractive UNIX server platform, with major commercial vendor support and the best of the open source world wrapped up into one product.

    I see Mac OS X Server on (something like) vmware on non-Apple x86 enterprise server hardware in Apple's future.
    • While hardware being Apple's main profit center has been the main argument for why OS X wont be running on commodity hardware, there is another substantial sticking point. There have always been back room type deals between microsoft and apple over the office suite, and certainly Jobs making an x86 switch didnt happen without either an understanding or perhaps an explicit agreement over office with microsoft that surely included OS X not running on commodity hardware. It's very unlikely OS X Server could
      • You might be correct, but I don't think it goes as far as you believe it does. I find it unlikely that there were any specific deals regarding Office before the transition announcement. Further, Microsoft Office for Mac OS X and the Mac Business Unit in general are very profitable for Microsoft. Other than for larger strategic reasons, there is no reason to pull Office for the Mac platform. Now, that said, I don't have any problem believing Microsoft might do just that, just as they killed the IE 6 for Mac
        • I don't have any problem believing Microsoft might do just that, just as they killed the IE 6 for Mac project within days of Safari's announcement.

          MS killed IE for the Mac because it was pointless. They weren't making any money on it (ever), Netscape was already dead, and Safari was superior from day one.

          -jcr

          • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:41PM (#13280730)
            Actually, that's not true.

            IE 6 for Mac was a fully staffed program, and Jimmy Grewal was the program manager. Immediately after the Safari announcement, a decision outside of MacBU was made to kill IE 6 for Mac. Once this was dead, the program manager actually left Microsoft. To repeat: IE 6 for Mac was actually in internal beta, and was a fully staffed project. Right when Safari was announced, it was killed, and it was killed *because* of the Safari announcement.
        • Three reasons this won't fly:

          The first, as you mentioned is mindshare. No matter how hard Apple tries, their office suite will never be more than marginally noticed by mainstream IT managers.

          The second, and more important, is that writing a full office suite is not a trivial undertaking. The combined person-years that have gone into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook and anything else included in Office would be far beyond the means of Apple to duplicate. And even if they did have that kind of mone
        • I think you underestimate the history microsoft has of using Office as their #1 bully pulpit against Apple. It was commonly reported during the browser wars that threats of Office slowdowns in new versions or a withdrawl from the platform altogether were on the table to get Internet Explorer shipping on the Mac over Netscape. Several hours of Gates' testimony to the DOJ during the states case against Microsoft. It was also reportedly used as leverage against quicktime and other technologies. Obviously i
    • by hacker ( 14635 ) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:07PM (#13280424)
      ...will jump on the vmware bandwagon. With Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server (especially Mac OS X Server in the context of what I'm about to discuss) supporting x86, it would be trivially easy to have Mac OS X Server run in a supported fashion in a vmware environment on any variety of hardware.

      More-importantly, why Apple isn't shipping their "Developer Kits" as VMware .vmdk images instead of on actual hardware. When you simply need to develop/port an application over, and aren't using any hardware-specific calls (SSE3), you can get by with a .vmdk running in VMware instead of on a $999.00 + $1,5000 developer kit and subscription.

      Not only could they reach a wider market of developers who can't afford the $2,499 DevKit cost, but they can also reduce their own operating expenses (and tie the OS tightly to the VMware BIOS if they wanted to). It strikes me as odd why they didn't consider this. People are already hacking the DevKit builds to run in VMware now, successfully.

      Oracle does it, why not Apple?

      • Apple isn't doing it because they are working with Transitive [transitive.com] to build Rosetta for the Mac.

        At this stage, I imagine it would be politically incorrect to switch sides and start supporting VMWare. It might be the easy thing to do, but it may also jeopardize ongoing agreements with another vendor.
        • You missed my point entirely. I'm not talking about running PowerPC binaries on the Intel/OSX machines (which is precisely what Rosetta does for them).

          I'm talking about providing the Intel builds of OSX in a VMware .vmdk image to developers, instead of providing a $2,499 hardware kit that does the same thing for developers who do not need direct access to the physical hardware to complete their ports.

          • by cahiha ( 873942 )
            It would be more logical for Apple to ship the Intel version of OS X as a Virtual PC image. That way, people could run it on both PPC Macintosh and Windows.
    • They don't need to. (Score:3, Informative)

      by jcr ( 53032 )
      I see Mac OS X Server on (something like) vmware on non-Apple x86 enterprise server hardware in Apple's future.

      I don't. Apple's been very clear on their intentions, and they're not about to throw their users to the mercy of the crap hardware makers like Dell and Gateway.

      I think that the far more likely scenario is that shops that have legacy apps that have to run on MS operating systems will be able to run them under VMWare on their Intel-based Xserves.

      The benefit of this will be that as soon as a watchdog
    • I'm wondering if people will use VMware to crack whatever BIOS DRM Apple uses to prevent OS X on commodity x86 hardware. It's cheaper to buy a cheap PC, throw on vmware, and install OSX than to buy an Apple. It's also probably easier to trick OS X into thinking it's running on a Mac when running it in a virtual machine.

      Of course, that's only of interest for those who want OS X more than a mac.

  • Bootable USB? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:26PM (#13280050)
    Good, I hope one of these companies has an interest in modifying VMware's BIOS so it can boot an OS from a USB device (USB-FDD/USB-HDD/USB-ZIP). That is one missing feature that really irks me.
    • Well, wouldn't that make the whole system insecure?

      As in, anybody could bring their own USB bootable hd to any computer and gain access... Or am I missing something here?
      • No, it wouldn't. Within a virtual machine, you can only access the file on the host machine that contain your virtual machine's "harddisk". You can't access files on the host machine itself.
      • I think the parent is trying to make the point of being able to store VM files on a USB stick and be able to run those files from that location. If you're working on a VM at your PC and decide to switch over to your laptop, it's just moving the USB stick over.
      • Well, wouldn't that make the whole system insecure?

        As in, anybody could bring their own USB bootable hd to any computer and gain access... Or am I missing something here?

        They can already do it with a floppy or CD so this wouldn't make it any less secure. I'm sure the bios would have the same options to disable booting from USB as it does for CD and floppy.

        If someone has physical access to the machine you can't get 100% security anyway.

  • by mrm677 ( 456727 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:28PM (#13280073)
    How does VMWare fit into EMC's strategic interests? I'm surprised that Apple didn't buy VMWare when they had the chance because with the move to x86 hardware, having VMWare part of OS/X would be killer.

    • How does VMWare fit into EMC's strategic interests?

      VMWare enables virtualization of servers, which means larger servers with larger centralized/conslidated storage requirements (typically SAN). EMC's major strength is storage. VMWare is also simply a great product that obviously make EMC a nice profit which they can use for other strategic initiatives.
      • by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:39PM (#13280186)
        I never understood this acquisition by EMC. The whole virtualization thing in SAN is far from the OS level. You want to see virtualization in storage, look at HDS tagmastore. This vmware thing was the biggest publicity stun, they are just trying to bounce back from the 90s dominance which they are clearly loosing grip on.

        The OS emulation part of vmware workstation really has nothing to do with storage. All the other products are overkill. Which is what EMC does best, sell you way more software than you need. In the end people end up with HDS, HP.

        • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @03:08PM (#13280993)

          EMC's acquisition of VMWare was all about getting into the server virtualization market. EMC could already virtualize storage, but the trend lately is for server consolidation. Instead of putting 8-10 1U servers in a rack, you can put an 8-way 7U box in a rack and run 8-10 virtual servers on it. Now imagine having a rack full of 8-way servers emulating an entire server farm of 1U machines.

          VMWare's server virtualization stuff allows you to move a virtual server from one physical server to another while the VM is running. This is potent stuff. Couple virtualized servers with virtualized storage and you have a powerful argument for EMC's SANs in more datacenters.

    • Since the purchase by EMC, their new business model is helping companies consolidate several virtual servers onto one machine, and to be able to move virtual servers easily off of broken hardware quickly. They still sell the Workstation product though.
    • I'm surprised that Apple didn't buy VMWare

      APPLE?!?!?! IBM was the sure bet before EMC stepped in to scoop them up. I was close to the talks.
  • Nice. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alaeth ( 78655 )
    VMware is probably one of the most useful QA products out there. Nice to see them open it up for 3rd party vendors to play with. Anyone else use VMware 5? Gotta love the new snapshotting features.
    • I've outfitted my entire team with VMware Workstation. Our company has a hardline in that tech support will only support the W2K and WXP images that they install. The problem is that my entire infrastructure of servers is primarily Linux/AIX.

      VMware allows us to have best of both worlds where we run SuSE 9.2 inside VMware and we basically spend 80% of our time in there. We roll and support our own images but the gains outway the cost/time to do that.

      I've been using VMware for about 3 years now and I
    • RE: Snapshots (Score:2, Interesting)

      by losman ( 840619 ) *
      Forgot about that, yes the SnapShot and Clones rock! We have to have two different configurations of our image for one to operate in the office and the other over a VPN. I just started playing with SnapShot and Clones and it worked like a charm! Definitely the features rank up there with Sliced Bread!
      • Re: Snapshots (Score:2, Interesting)

        by alaeth ( 78655 )
        Man, I forgot about cloning... Get a base image perfected with all your tools installed, Clone it as a linked clone. voila, infinite copies, all of which can run at the same time. Co-worker needs a copy of your image? No problemo, make a full clone and NewSID it (sysinternals.com)
  • Doublespeak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:29PM (#13280079)
    So by "best mix of open-source and proprietary", they mean "not open-source at all".
    • Uh, no. Wrong. This is "open source", actually..sort of. It's open source in the sense that, if you are a partner of VMWare, you're given royalty-free access to the source code, with the ability to share your modified code with the original codebase pool, and/or redistribute your modified code to your buyers, albeit only in binary form. So it *is* open source, at a certain level. It's just not 'viral', in fact, explicitly not so, I'd imagine (i.e. you're prohibited from distributing your modified source).

      So
      • Re:Doublespeak (Score:5, Informative)

        by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:20PM (#13280519)
        This is "open source", actually..sort of. It's open source in the sense that, if you are a partner of VMWare, you're given royalty-free access to the source code, with the ability to share your modified code with the original codebase pool, and/or redistribute your modified code to your buyers, albeit only in binary form.
        In other words, it's not open. Look, ANY company will share code with other companies so long as the IP is protected by contracts and enough money changes hands. That's simply not what "open" means.
  • VMware (Score:5, Informative)

    by skintigh2 ( 456496 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:29PM (#13280086)
    In case you were wondering, VMware is an application that lets you run several virtual machines on one host machine, and even set up a virtual network of those machines and bridge it to the real world if you want, allowing honeynets and the such.

    I hate headlines that list some alphabet soup without explaining what the heck it is. I read about 2 years of RSS headlines before seeing an article that mentioned what RSS was.
    • As always google has the answer.
      define:VMWare [google.com]
      define:RSS [google.com]
    • I hate headlines that list some alphabet soup without explaining what the heck it is. I read about 2 years of RSS headlines before seeing an article that mentioned what RSS was.

      There's this newfangled thing we techies call "Google" that can answer these kinds of questions. Maybe you've heard of it.
  • Not very exciting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:30PM (#13280089) Homepage Journal
    VMWare is opening its API up to partners? It's a typical NDA agreement between companies. Not very exciting and not worthy of a press release - except for the fact that they don't have another way to generate buzz around Linuxworld. Meanwhile Xen is gaining ground, is a technically better approach, and is real Open Source. VMWare? Yawn.

    Bruce

    • Re:Not very exciting (Score:5, Informative)

      by andersbergh ( 884714 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:31PM (#13280099)
      Xen requires the guest OS to be ported though. So Xen can't run XP, and other OS's because they are never going to be ported..
      • Re:Not very exciting (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:39PM (#13280188) Homepage Journal
        Yes, the other virtual machine programs spoof the hosted OS by emulating the interrupt controller and some other hardware. This code for the most part already exists in other Open Source projects, and if someone wants it enough, it could be added to Xen. It would never be the optimal path for hosting an OS, though. Porting the OS makes it run better.

        XP is an interesting question. It already has a microkernel that it uses for DRM, called the NIB. You could probably host it by emulating that.

        Bruce

        • actually, it would be better to create a modified shell just for that. No sense killing all the other VMs just because Windows does not wish to play nice. It would be an interesting way to allow for Windows apps to run on Linux.
        • by kma ( 2898 )
          Yes, the other virtual machine programs spoof the hosted OS by emulating the interrupt controller and some other hardware. This code for the most part already exists in other Open Source projects, and if someone wants it enough, it could be added to Xen.

          Reality check, Bruce. You have absolutlely no idea what you're talking about here, ok? If it were all this easy, somebody would have gotten around to it by now. Go ask the Xen guys what's involved in running unmodified OS'es, and they'll tell you that portin
      • from the Xen [cam.ac.uk] homepage:

        "A port of Windows XP was developed for an earlier version of Xen, but is not available for release due to licence restrictions."

        MS was involved in the development of Xen as were other industry heavyweights. As usual MicroSoft decided to take its toy Virtual PC [microsoft.com] home and play with itself.

        Perhaps OS will win out because by way of an evolutionary analogy OS relies on a sort of sexual cross pollinization to evolve; whereas corporations are like giant eunuchs that only feed the growth of o

      • Re:Not very exciting (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lemming Mark ( 849014 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:14PM (#13280473) Homepage
        Intel and AMD are introducing new virtualisation-aware chips that'll fix this though. Code (and test machines) have been contributed by Intel to the Xen project (AMD is following suit), so xen-unstable already boots unmodified OSes (not quite Windows yet but it should work soon).

        The idea is that Windows will run with good performance in a fully virtualised guest. Once a fully-virtualised guest is up and running, Xen-aware disk and network drivers will be installed within it to boost the performance even more.

        In the future, it *might* be possible to fake out the MS paravirtualisation APIs under Xen to get better performance for Windows (depending on licensing and the achievable performance benefits).

        For the immediate future, Win4Lin recently announced official support for running W4L Pro on Xen.
    • Re:Not very exciting (Score:4, Interesting)

      by justins ( 80659 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:15PM (#13280487) Homepage Journal
      Meanwhile Xen is gaining ground, is a technically better approach, and is real Open Source. VMWare? Yawn.

      Yawn? Some of us need a product with VMWare's features, rather than a product that might have VMWare's features eventually, if enough bored teenagers are somehow inspired to hack on the code.
    • - As said above XP doesn't work with Xen, VMWare does.
      - Xen is not yet compatible with NPTL, I think.
      This will change, of course, but this hardly makes Xen so exciting, doesn't it?

      • XP will need hardware support that'll be forthcoming presently... Unfortunately there's not a way round that (other than to use QEmu / Win4Lin under Xen and take the performance hit of those products).

        NPTL works under Xen x86_32 but it's better (for performance) if you don't use it. On x86_64 it's fine, doesn't matter to performance. In fully virtualised mode (with hardware support) it doesn't matter either.

        But yes, despite my biases for Xen, VMware is also an amazing piece of engineering. Both have adv
  • It's great news. The only problem is that today with enterprise-ready UML [sf.net], Xen [sf.net] et al. we serious computer scientists no longer need VMware being any more open to begin with. You missed the first train so don't beat the dead horse now.
    • >with enterprise-ready UML,

      Enterprise? Ready? UML? Nice joke.

      > Xen et al.

      Another enterprise ready virtualization technology!
      So many free, enterprise-ready virtualization technologies, so litle time....

      In real life VMWare has a great advantage over the competitors; it's stable, mature, supports heterogenous OS, snapshots and the latest Clariion's virtualization features can be combined with VMWare's features (don't ask me how, I just read the press release; I guess VMWare can make use of Clariion's vir
  • by rwven ( 663186 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:32PM (#13280106)
    Can you imagine if someday they release the full sourcecode? that would be pretty slick...

    I honestly think if MS released an emulator like Mac did with their OS that would work with *NIX and OSX, they would cement themselves for a long time. No one would have a reason to leave if they got the performance good enough on the thing.

    But this is MS here, they'd never do that unfortunatley.
  • Virtualization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gtrubetskoy ( 734033 ) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:35PM (#13280147)

    I think that VMWare is finding itself in potential trouble because it is not going to be easy to sustain their financial success with the Open Source projects such as QEMU [bellard.free.fr] and Xen [cam.ac.uk] gaining ground.

    I personally think that hypervisors are overhyped (pun fun!), and that the most practical and useful form of "virtualization" is actually separation as is achieved by Solaris Zones, FreeBSD jails and (the most advanced of them all IMO) Linux Vservers. A pretty good article on it here [freesoftwaremagazine.com].

    Separtion carries nearly zero overhead, simplifies administration because there is one kernel and one filesystem. It allows for simple "entry" into a virtual server from the main server, and there are other subtle advantages that I can't think of right now probably....

    • I personally think that hypervisors are overhyped (pun fun!), and that the most practical and useful form of "virtualization" is actually separation...

      For the most part I agree and VMWare's focus on that market is going to get them in trouble down the road. Their implementation, however, allows for virtual networks and guest OS's, both of which are lucrative markets where they have little competition. Separation is great for logically dividing and protecting an OS homogenous system, but I'm much more i

    • Re:Virtualization (Score:3, Interesting)

      by defile ( 1059 )

      I personally think that hypervisors are overhyped (pun fun!), and that the most practical and useful form of "virtualization" is actually separation as is achieved by Solaris Zones, FreeBSD jails and (the most advanced of them all IMO) Linux Vservers.

      Someone who worked at VMWare told me that their BIG MONEY comes from virtualization. System runs on computer A. Computer A needs to be moved down the hall. VMWare's server solution (allegedly) lets you move the System to computer B , in real time, with "

    • You're right, seperation does carry very little overhead compared to other methods of virtualization, however you still have the host OS kernel to deal with and interface through.

      I believe the most efficient method would be to have the host OS run an exokernel [wikipedia.org], which is being researched at MIT [mit.edu]. Basically, an exokernel allows processes to have complete control of the system, allowing them to finely tune their resource usage (among other things) to maximize performance. For example, a database server or fi
    • I personally think that hypervisors are overhyped (pun fun!), and that the most practical and useful form of "virtualization" is actually separation as is achieved by Solaris Zones, FreeBSD jails and (the most advanced of them all IMO) Linux Vservers.

      What's the extra capabilities of Linux Vservers compared to FreeBSD jails? I couldn't find anything by a quick persual of the vserver Wiki, though that may just be my reading skills acting up as usual ;)

      Eivind.


      • What's the extra capabilities of Linux Vservers compared to FreeBSD jails? I couldn't find anything by a quick persual of the vserver Wiki, though that may just be my reading skills acting up as usual

        Existence of the "spectator" context, the ability to limit diskspace, CPU token bucket scheduler, use of filesystem namespaces, system resource limits, full SysV IPC virtualization (FreeBSD may have that by now, not sure) - just to name a few...

        • Is the spectator context more convenient to work with than the FreeBSD method ("host" sees all processes, while the jails only see their own)? Immediately, it sounds less convenient - for instance, it makes just throwing in a jail() call for a single process to throw away privileges *hide* the process from "normal use". I've not lived with vservers, though - is it convenient in practice?

          FreeBSD doesn't have SysV IPC virtualization (unless our architecture docs are out of date - I didn't check the most r

    • Typically the CPU performance penalty from running vmware 4 is about 5%. With vmware 5 it seems to be even less. If you look at the performance comparison on Xen's site you'll see essentially no difference on CPU time. The vmware they tested had problems with network and file IO, but that's two major versions ago (because of draconian vmware license against publishing benchmarks). Now vmware machines run in kernel mode (at least on linux) and have much faster IO and network, comparable to native and xen

      • Typically the CPU performance penalty from running vmware 4 is about 5%.

        I don't believe it for a second. While this statement may be facutally true, in real life where disk and network IO matter more than percentage CPU overhead, this statement is mightily misleading.

        it's like the difference between O(os*jails) vs O(os+vmware).

        Well - with separation (i.e. jails) the one system kernel will optimize (cache inodes, share code memory pages, etc) across ALL contexts (or jails). This is something VMWare

      • Ha, I use VMWare all the time and I see LOTS Of room for performance improvement. The big problem: VMWare seems to run mostly in kernel mode (as you stated), which defeats the Linux scheduler! Thus VMWare is a hog that doesn't play nice with processes on the host OS. I now resort to launching VMWare from a console so I can Ctrl-Z (suspend) it while I'm not actively doing something in Windows. Besides, it seems to me all I/O on the virtual machine is slow.

        Don't get me wrong, VMWare is a good product

      • Here's my Xen-oriented take on this:

        Performance penalty for compute-intensive apps should be near zero on any virtualisation system - that's *relatively* easy. The difficult part is the kernel mode and IO stuff. VMware has to take bigger penalties than Xen for kernel-mode stuff because it must scan and rewrite the machine code before running it (for correctness and isolation). I haven't seen any numbers for this sort of workload on a recent VMware, though.

        The IO performance can be fixed (although I unde
    • Separation is great if all you're looking to do is separate privileges. That's not what Xen or VMware are really about, though. Virtualization gives you features that Separation does not.

      A big one is being able to run two completely different OSes on a single machine at the same time.

      Another is that you can kernel development a lot easier using virtualization than if you had to develop *on* your development kernel and constantly reboot/crash/fix/etc. This also holds true for security when using virtualiz
      • Another *huge* benefit for the enterprise is the ability to Live Migrate with both Xen and VMware ESX. This allows you to move a virtual machine *whilst running* to another host system.

        Imagine evacuating all your servers from another host to other systems before taking it down for maintenance, or load balancing a "virtual server farm" over a cluster of real machines that you can easily add to and rebalance.

        Sound like magic? It's not, it's just very cunning ;-) You precopy as much state as possible, then
  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:36PM (#13280157)
    VMware ESX is Linux, after all. They post their GPL'ed parts, and they provide kits that use OSS to extend scripting and management capabilities. They're pretty OSS friendly.

    Wow, 93% growth in their VMWare subsidiary! We just bought two servers, and will probably grow the "farm" to four within the next two years. We like what ESX has to offer, in terms of availability and flexibility.
  • Huh? An API is not source code. Nothing to see there...

    VmWare is going to continue in the proprietary vein. The F/OSS community has several projects going for it though: QEMU, Bochs, CoLinux, Xen and some others.

    VmWare Workstation is a solid product. But I think VmWare/EMC is probably in trouble as these other projects become more mature, especially Xen since it will take advantage of hardware support for virtualization.

    They are all fairly usable now, and it doesn't seem that pushing them over the hump is g
    • VmWare is going to continue in the proprietary vein. The F/OSS community has several projects going for it though: QEMU, Bochs, CoLinux, Xen and some others.

      I'm really happy with CoLinux [colinux.org]. I just take it for granted that I can run Linux under Windows with native performance. At the moment I'm using it to run MySQL, Squid, Apache, Ruby and Samba. It's much better than Cygwin or SFU. Eventually there will be a framebuffer driver for CoLinux and it will be near perfect. For me, however, the Linux stuff I n
    • "But I think VmWare/EMC is probably in trouble as these other projects become more mature, especially Xen since it will take advantage of hardware support for virtualization."

      I love how people assume that VMWare is just going to sit still and die. I read an article somewhere (Anandtech or Tom's Hardware, I think) that had _pictures_ of VMWare running Windows using hardware virtualization (I vaguely recall that it was VT). They're not worried because they HAVE THE CAPABILITY.

      Saying Xen is going to kill VMWar
  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:38PM (#13280182) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the better machines from the old mainframe days virtualize themselves? IIRC someone ported Linux to one of the virtual machines and was able to run a crazy number of instances on one set of hardware.

    I know this sounds (is?) crazy, but why not open up the architecture of the old mainframes, and base the next generation of PC hardware on those ideas? CPU and memory are cheap now, but those suckers were designed to be robust back when you couldn't solve all problems by making large clusters of faulty machines - they had to work, period. Surely modern PCs could match much of the power of an old mainframe machine, properly designed, and the whole modern desktop OS and apps could just be run on a virtual instance from a PC. This would allow, say, Windows and Linux to coexist, run at the same time, have no issues crop up that software like VMware has to work around, and allow for all sorts of interesting debugging possibilities (how about booting up another VM to debug a wiped out desktop OS, just by pressing a button on the keyboard?)

    IIRC x86 has some real issues with virtualization, but if what I have heard is true and x86 is now mostly a layer put on top of more advanced cores in most CPUs perhaps the problem has already been (largely) addressed. Does this makes sense to anyone else - would it be good to have "desktop mainframes"?
    • Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the better machines from the old mainframe days virtualize themselves?

      Well, IBM had an OS product called "VM", and it could even host itself. There wasn't anything particularly special about the hardware to allow this, beyond having user and supervisor modes.

      Amdahl first ran UNIX under VM sometime in the mid-80's. The stories we heard a few years back about IBM running tens of thousands of instances of Linux on their latest machine at the time, were just more of the
    • know this sounds (is?) crazy, but why not open up the architecture of the old mainframes, and base the next generation of PC hardware on those ideas?


      Because that feature wouldn't be useful to the vast majority of consumers and would be a waste of R&D and transistor costs.

      Mainframes aren't obsolete, by the way. You can buy modern mainframe systems from IBM and others, which tout the virtualization features.
    • >IIRC someone ported Linux to one of the virtual machines and was able to run a crazy number of instances on one set of hardware.

      IBM did, but noone said that this 'crazy number' of Linux VM was something usable, I think it was just a stress test.
      What is the point of running a 'crazy number' of VM if most of them must stay idle otherwise the computer melt down under the load?

      Also no need to 'open up' the architecture of mainframes, AMD and Intel are adding their own virtualisation technology to x86, they
  • by jerkychew ( 80913 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:41PM (#13280213) Homepage
    "But from the looks of last quarter's financial reports, VMware doesn't need much help getting people on board."

    It's got nothing to do with revenue, it's about market share. Virtual machines are going to be huge in the coming years, especially in the webhosting market. Pretty soon, leasing a "dedicated server" will be simply leasing a dedicated "instance" of a server, for lack of a better word.

    EMC wants to keep their lion's share of the market, especially with products like MS' Virtual Server 2005 [microsoft.com] and SWSoft's Virtuozzo [sw-soft.com] entering the fray.

    I did some contracting work for Big Blue a few months ago, and their deployment teams LOVE VMWare. They used it for all kinds of crazy stuff, and it worked amazingly well. I hadn't used VMWare since a very early beta back in the 90's, and was impressed at how well it has come along since then.

    EMC is just protecting its market share now as best it can, before others start chipping into it.
  • QEMU (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @01:42PM (#13280221)
    If you don't want to pay for VMWare, I would suggest trying out QEMU [bellard.free.fr].

    Ever since the "QEMU accelerator" module has been released (version 0.70), it has worked as a virtualizer as well as emulator, so you can get almost VMWare-like performance (that is, if you just want to run Windows under Linux or vice versa). QEMU itself is licensed under LGPL, the accelerator module is free as in beer (and there's another, open-source accelerator project in the works, though I'm not sure what the situation is today)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:03PM (#13280390)
    AMD will release Pacifica Q1'06 which provides OS virtualization in hardware.

    This will allow Xen to transparently virtualize linux, windows, macosx, etc.

    What you are seeing is VMWARE desparately trying to entrench themselves in the virtualization market before Xen & Pacifica (and whatever Intel's processor is) makes their product technologically non interesting.

    From what I understand they offer nice add tools, and that's pretty much the only way they can actually have any sort of future in the virtualization market.
  • by Douglas Simmons ( 628988 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:09PM (#13280436) Homepage
    With the open source term becoming the latest wall street Good Thing buzzword, the risk-reward ratio of releasing source code, more often than not in a very limited way, is an attempt on behalf of these companies to declare to public investors that the integrity of their product is strong enough to the degree that they have no compunction of releasing their secret blueprints, essentially inviting people to come hack pbrush.exe and VMware. To hackers, most of this OS releasing going on is of software that has no hacking appeal. There's just no motive to capitalizing on these OS releases.

    I, for one, am not impressed by what strike me as PR maneuvers which at best are patinas devoid of true significance worthy of a meaningful press release. Otoh, I suppose it may increase shareholder wealth, the legal purpose of a public company.
  • In my opinion coLinux [colinux.org] offers the best virtual Linux environment running on Windows. The speed is pretty close to native Linux and they've already started implementing a framebuffer so running X without VNC is going to be reality in the close future.
    • One of the really big markets for virtualisation is for server consolidation in the enterprise. In these cases, it's very important to achieve strong isolation, as in VMware, Xen, etc.

      coLinux is great for compatibility. Some guys also used it recently to get software RAID 5 working over USB disk under Windows - pretty cool :-)
  • VMware is doomed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by popo ( 107611 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @02:17PM (#13280498) Homepage

    This is a last desperate move from a company who knows its already beat.

    Why?

    AMD released its VM simulation software (a preview of its Pacifica technology) today. The new AMD Pacifica technology will allow multiple OS's to run on a single CPU as virtual machines.

    Intel -- (IMHO always pathetically playing catch up to AMD these days) -- has also promised a VM system in the coming months.

    So we've got $180 Billion Intel and $7 Billion AMD competing for the VM space, and VMware in a desperate last ditch effort to entrench themselves as the industry standard, opens up their API.

    I hate to say it, but it ain't gonna work. The heavyweights are coming.

  • Would it be too much to ask to make the distinction between API and source code? After all, it's a technical site, or at least that's what it's supposed to be.
  • by Hack Jandy ( 781503 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @03:51PM (#13281362) Homepage
    I think the largest reason VMWare is doing this is because Intel and AMD are both developing technologies that allow multiple OSes per CPU; thus eliminating the need for VMWare altogether. Google for "AMD Pacifica" and "Intel VT" and you will see.

    HJ
  • by kicha ( 906358 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @03:52PM (#13281371)
    For many VMware is just workstation product. Because that is what they get to see people discussing in the LUG. Please checkout www.vmtn.net (VMware technology network) and see the discussions on ESX,VC and ACE from the enterprise users. The feature set that you get there is mind blowing. I cant think of anything equivalent in any other product/OS currently or in the near future. VMware has many "first" to their credit that no other software provides/provided. But I would say they have been such a low profile company. They are hitting the headlines only after their EMC acquisition, which is understandable considering they are moving more into Enterprise segment. Just a partial list of features: NICteaming across different NIC make and models at the kernel level Virtual VLAN Beaconing NIC Failover PXE boot SAN Multipathing Multi vendor SAN support at the kernel level SAN path failover Hot backups of virtual machines through redo logs VMotion (move VMs from one physical host to another without the underlying OS knowing about it) Perl/COM APIs to control Virtual Machines Multiple level of snapshots with VC Cloning from the same base image in WKS By far the largest number of guest OS support. ACE -Virtual machine deployment (http://www.vmware.com/products/desktop/ace_featur es.html [vmware.com]) The product and its features just speaks for themselves. Go and read the specs or try it for yourself. Do not compare VMware with Xen/Virtual PC or any other projects. They have just started to do things that VMware did 6 years ago. yes pacificia and vanderpool will let anyone do virtualization. So what ? If vmware could do so many things when there was no hardware support for virtualization, imagine what they could bring in when the support is built into the hardware. With them already ahead of the game by miles, I could only see that vanderpool and pacifici help them proliferate further in the server market space.
    • by Lemming Mark ( 849014 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @07:49PM (#13282872) Homepage
      Hi, I work on Xen but I don't officially represent the project. Anything good I say is the work of a great team, anything stupid I say is my fault... First off: I keep saying this on /. but I'll say it again - VMware _rocks_. It does an incredible task, technically and the management apps rock, from what I've heard: cluster management is very important for enterprise class virtualisation. However, I'd like to compare a few features anyhow... As I have an obvious built-in bias, you _must_ call out anything you think I haven't justified well! I'd be only too happy to respond.
      • Xen can do any networking trick you can do with Linux, *transparently* to the virtual machines: "teaming" can be done with Linux ethernet bonding, VLANs can be done too, NIC failover should be doable under Linux also.
      • SAN Multipathing should work since multipathing got merged into the mainline kernel. Xen will support any SAN hardware Linux supports. Again, this is *transparent* to virtual machines.
      • Hot backups - you can simply take LVM snapshots from the "host" to backup a VM, make CoW disks, etc. Improved support for CoW and cluster-wide virtual disk snapshotting is being worked on.
      • Live migration under Xen does basically the same job as VMotion - migrate virtual machines whilst they're still running. Xen gets excellent performance doing this - migrating running Quake 3 servers with 60ms downtime, imperceptibly to the grad students playing deathmatch ;-)
      • There is a remote management API using HTTP (Python library provided), however the management tools for Xen need _lots_ of work to get up to the level of quality VMware have set... This is in progress but there's lots still to be done. * Snapshotting VMs can again be done using LVM in the "host" but this has some limitations, so work is planned to improve this feature. * Guest OS support - Linux 2.4, 2.6, Plan 9, FreeBSD 5, NetBSD 2 (and current) can all run under Xen, ReactOS is being ported. NetBSD 3.0 and FreeBSD 6.0 are planning to include Xen support natively, as is a Real Soon Now release of mainline Linux. The lacking area is full virtualisation: Xen can't run Windows. This will be fixed by specialised hardware (Intel Vanderpool or AMD Pacifica) or by running QEmu or Win4Lin on top - if you want to run Windows virtual machines with maximal performance on current hardware you should buy VMware, it's that simple. However, it's always going to be better to have a virtualisation-aware OS than do completely full virtualisation - even with h/w assist. VMware are working on a paravirtualised API themselves for this reason
      • Some work on provisioning virtual machine installs is being done by the distros and by xen-get.org (a sort of "apt for OS installs") but I suspect ACE has the edge there for the timebeing.

      Finally, I'd like to point out that Xen is close to zero overhead for most system level benchmarks. Due to licensing restrictions (which I think are not entirely unreasonable) on VMware prodcuts, I don't have numbers for VMware's overheads. Intuitively, though, fooling an OS into thinking it's *not* in a VM requires more effort than not fooling it - VMware will always have to do more work than a paravirtualised solution like Xen, so it necessarily incurs more overhead (for now).

      Whilst I'm about it, I should also mention some more things that are under development. Yes, you can always say things are "on the way" (and I'm sure VMware have cool things in the pipe too). Nonetheless this should be arriving in the foreseeable future and since it's an OSS project it's not a secret...

      • VM replays - there's code for replaying a virtual machine deterministically so that you can watch its lifetime again from any point. A nice trick which should get implemented on top of this is a "backwards debugger", allowing you to set "reverse breakpoints", etc. This has been done for UML in the past.
      • VM forks - "fork" virtual machines to replicate services
  • VMware is in trouble (Score:3, Informative)

    by cahiha ( 873942 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @05:58PM (#13282179)
    VMware had done the hard work of virtualizing a processor that wasn't designed to be virtualized. But upcoming chips from Intel and AMD will support virtualization directly. While you still need some additional code (device emulation, etc.) to get a full hypervisor or virtual machine environment, that code already exists. In different words, the virtualization features of the next generation of x86 chips basically erase VMware's competitive advantage. And that spells trouble for VMware, which is probably why they are trying desparately to tie other companies to themselves.
  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @07:41PM (#13282814)

    Instead of "open source" this should be called "august source" after the inclusive policies of the Augusta National Golf Club. Also known as "if you have to ask, we won't admit you".

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. -- Mike Adams

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