Other Emulators

SUSE provides a number of other open source emulators for legacy game systems and the like. These can be found in YaST's software selection: Package Groups O System O Emulators O Other, and should be available if you have enabled the main online repository as an installation source.

Most types of big non-Intel server hardware have their own native virtualization systems. For example, on the IBM iSeries, pSeries, and zSeries servers, you can run multiple operating systems simultaneously. The Sun Solaris operating system now offers zones (virtualization domains for multiple copies of the operating system), on both the Sparc and Intel platforms.

Xen is an extremely powerful move toward bringing the same capabilities to Linux on the x86 platform. Both SUSE and Red Hat, as well as some of the most important hardware vendors, have seen the importance of this technology that brings high-end features to commodity hardware and the Linux operating system.

In terms of virtualization on the server, a variety of competing technologies are now available in the marketplace, and it is unclear which will win out in the long run. For general-purpose vir-tualization, VMware and Xen are the main players. VMware's technology is more mature, but Xen is establishing itself as an important player in the market, with Xen-enabled Linux enterprise versions from both SUSE and Red Hat, and XenSource offering its own dedicated virtual-ization server product. The virtualization technology itself is only part of the story. Large-scale enterprise environments need adequate management tools to deal with the physical and virtual resources and automate such matters as (for example) migrating resources from one server to another when loads reach pre-defined levels. Various vendors, including Novell, are working on such management tools that will be capable of managing both Xen and VMware instances, which are likely to exist side-by-side in many environments for years to come.

Other technologies emerging in this field, too. The kernel now has recently gained two interesting new virtualization methods: kvm (kernel virtual machine) and Rusty Russell's Iguest. Both are simpler solutions than Xen, but allow Linux itself to act as a hypervisor.

■ kvm requires hardware assistance, but (with suitable software making use of it) can run other operating systems, including Windows. The guest operating system runs as a single process under Linux. A version of QEMU that uses kvm is available in openSUSE 11.0 in the package kvm.

■ Iguest is a minimal hypervisor for the kernel that allows you to create and run a Linux virtual machine very easily.

It seems at least possible that virtualization solutions based on one or other of these technologies (probably kvm) may become important in the future.

For people who want to run or test a second operating system on the desktop, the best choice depends on your hardware. If you have a modern processor capable of hardware-assisted virtual-ization, then you can use Xen for all your virtualization needs. Otherwise, your best choices are QEMU, VirtualBox, or VMware Server.

Xen is probably the most exciting single development project currently under way in the area of Linux. Whatever hardware is available to you, it is exciting and instructive to experiment with it.

The kernel is the heart of Linux. Indeed, strictly speaking, the kernel is Linux — hence, the naming controversy. (Those who prefer the term GNU/Linux stress the fact that the system as a whole contains a Linux kernel and the GNU utilities.)

In this chapter, we discuss the kernel in general and the SUSE kernel packages, and we explain how to configure and build a kernel. We also look at some of the problems involved with running third-party software that requires specific kernel versions.

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