Practical Technology

for practical people.

Intel, Novell deliver virtual Windows drivers to Linux


Although Microsoft and Novell are collaborating on virtualization to enable Windows Server to run on SUSE Linux, and vice-versa, Novell and Intel have advanced toward that goal with the release of paravirtualized network and block device drivers that allow Windows Server to run unmodified in Xen virtual environments.

These device drivers support SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (SLES), and work on Intel-based server platforms featuring chipsets using Intel-VT (Virtualization Technology). The new drivers will let customers migrate to newer and fewer energy-efficient servers, consolidating legacy Windows or Linux solutions onto virtual servers.

The two companies have been working on Xen VT drivers since this summer. The first release of a VT driver for SLES was in September.

The new Linux kernel, 2.6.20, also supports Intel-VT and AMD-V (aka Pacifica) virtualization technology. Instead of Xen, however, the new kernel comes with the newer KVM (Kernel-based virtual machine for Linux).

In addition to providing cost savings when virtualizing Windows on SLES, Novell and Intel claim that these new drivers can improve the availability of Windows- and Linux-based workloads via clustered virtual systems, and help IT staff respond faster to business needs by easily creating and provisioning services on virtual systems.

“With our SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 platform launch in July 2006, Novell became the first major Linux distributor to integrate Xen virtualization into a Linux distribution,” said Jeff Jaffe, Novell executive VP and CTO in a statement. “In September, we became the first distribution to support virtualized Linux workloads on Xen, and today we are the first distributor to support virtualized Windows workloads on Linux.”

“Intel has been working with the open source community to enable Linux virtualization solutions to take advantage of Intel Virtualization Technology, so that guest OS and applications can run unmodified,” added Doug Fisher, Intel’s VP of software and solutions group.

“In addition, our Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor-based platform with its outstanding performance, energy efficiency and reliability provides unparalleled headroom for multiple Virtual Machines running varied data center workloads,” Fisher added. “Getting Windows to run with Linux unmodified and vice versa will bring an immense confidence boost to IT managers in making decisions on corporate platform standardization and refresh.”

Novell is sponsoring a virtualization pilot program for customers, providing enterprise-level support for running fully virtualized Windows 2000/2003/XP workloads on SLES. The paravirtualized device drivers are now available to members of the pilot program. General availability is scheduled for later this year.

For more information on the pilot program and Novell virtualization solutions, visit Novell’s virtualization site. For more details about Intel-VT, visit Intel’s VT site.

A version of this story first appeared in Linux-Watch.

Leave a Reply