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VMware: Linux Is Ideal OS for Virtualization

SAN FRANCISCO -- Linux is a key part of the success mix for virtualization. That was the message of Mendel Rosenblum, chief scientist and cofounder of VMware.

Rosenblum's penguin love is not a new thing, either. He recounted for the LinuxWorld audience here that the very first version of VMware was launched on Linux in 1998.

"We secretly used them [Linux users] as our beta testers," Rosenblum said. "The Linux community helped us to build things up."

The VMware cofounder explained that the three key properties of virtualization are partitioning, isolation and encapsulation. It's about the idea that software is not tightly coupled to hardware and it can move around and be easily distributed.

Moving beyond the traditional realm of basic application virtualization capabilities, Rosenblum explained a new recording and playback capability that VMware is starting to roll out.

Called deterministic replay, it enables users to record the execution that goes on in a virtual machine in a compact manner. The user can then replay the execution at a later time.

Rosenblum argued that operating systems and companies like VMware are not competitors and, in fact, both can be successful and add value to the end user. In the traditional view of an operating system the operating system is an extension of the hardware.

"The goal of the OS is to support as many applications as possible," Rosenblum said. "The OS itself does nothing very useful; it is only the application on top that does something for you."

In his view the problem with the traditional OS model is that it is too complex.

Virtualization offers the opportunity to reduce complexity. Roseblum noted that in the virtual appliance model it lets the OS model be simplified so you can take out the application support parts you don't need and build an OS that is highly optimized for the specific application.

Rosenblum said that at VMware, they have a name for what they think would be the perfect OS for virtualization.

"It should be highly customizable and include only what the application needs," Rosenblum said. "We called it JeOS (pronounced juice) – the just-enough operating system, as opposed to the other model where the operating system supports anything so you can drop any application on it."

What operating system is close? Only Linux, according to Rosenblum.

"Linux is the perfect fit for virtualization it is a highly customizable operating system," Rosenblum said. "I see this as the place where Linux can dominate and licensing is also more favorable."