Virtualization key players have been busy during the whole 2006 summer arguing about value of para-virtualization as well as the best approach to integrate a standard hypervisor interface in the Linux kernel.
On this last point VMware hoped since last year its standardization implementation, Virtual Machine Interface or VMI, could be widely accepted in the community and find its way in the Linux kernel.
But XenSource, providing a large part of the development team behind Xen, the open source para-virtualization platform, and others are pushing for adoption of other interfaces.
Different positions of two main contenders slowed down progress for hypervisor standardization and received complains from big names like Oracle.
At the last USENIX both companies finally agreed to work on a joint project, coordinated by Rusty Russell, Linux kernel hacker working for IBM Linux Technology Center, and called paravirt-ops.
But while paravirt-ops specifications are in the work, VMware today released by surprise a working version of its Player able to run para-virtualized Linux distributions over a VMI compliant engine.
The Technology Preview build is available for free on the VMware site and the company invites Linux community to verify some performance improvement on high CPU workload scenarios, downloading para-virtualized Fedora Core 5 and SUSE OpenLinux 10.1 distributions as well.
At this point any other hypervisor deveveloped with VMI specifications would be already able to run same Linux distributions without further intervention.
So with this move VMware wants to demonstrate that, despite its support to the paravirt-ops effort, a standard hypervisor is already available and benefits are already quantifiable.
Download the new VMware Player for Linux with para-virtualization support and para-virtualized Linux distributions here.