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VMware follows paravirtualisation path

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VMware is joining the rush down the road of paravirtualisation already being trodden by the likes of Novell and Microsoft.

It is introducing Paravirt-ops with the launch of VMware Workstation 6. This is the first commercially available system to support Paravirt-ops, an open interface implementation of paravirtualisation developed in collaboration with the Linux community as well as IBM, Red Hat, VMware and XenSource. The system has been included in the latest version of the Linux kernel (version 2.6.21) and includes support for VMware's VMI interface. This provides a hypervisor-agnostic paravirtualisation interface. Paravirtualised Linux operating systems are modified operating systems that have been specifically optimised to run in a virtual environment.

According to VMware, Paravirt-ops improves upon other approaches by enabling transparent paravirtualisation. This means users are not restricted to running the Linux kernel only in the paravirtualisation hypervisor but can also run it on native hardware. This will help reduce the number of Linux kernels that have to be supported.

Other additions appearing in Workstation 6 include support for Microsoft Vista, either as a guest or a host, multiple monitor display, USB2.0 support (which should interest developers, particularly when working in a debugging role), an integrated virtual debugger that allows developers to use their preferred IDE, integrated Physical-to-Virtual functionality so that existing computers can be cloned rapidly, and ACE authoring capabilities through the availability of an ACE Authoring Pack. This will enable developers to create virtual machines that can be transported on portable media such as USB memory sticks, yet remain centrally managed.

One feature that should interest developers is the experimental continuous virtual machine record and replay feature. Basically, this will allow users to record the running of a suspect machine by cloning it as a virtual environment then running it with all inputs and outputs. Developers can then run this process back through time to locate and resolve even the most sneaky of bugs.

Workstation 6 for Linux and Windows is available for download now for $189. The experimental ACE Option Pack will cost $69, but for an unspecified short period of time, it will be available free. ®

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