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Red Hat's Virtual Road Map

Those interested in running Linux on a virtual machine have two choices: Use VMware and give up a substantial performance, or use Xen, which requires substantial expertise. But that's all going to change. Red Hat has announced that Enterprise Linux 5.0, scheduled to ship by the end of 2006, will include fully integrated virtualization.

Those in a bigger hurry for virtualization in Red Hat products will find it in Fedora core 5.0, Red Hat's free distribution. It's due for release this month and is expected to contain Xen virtualization.

Although Xen is notoriously hard to install and configure, it now boasts the ability to virtualize Windows and Solaris as well as Linux, and it runs on Itanium, SPARC and x86 architectures.

Red Hat's press release speaks of tight integration with processors that support virtualization in hardware, including Intel's new VT technology for x86, AMD's Pacifica technology for the Opteron, and Intel's Itanium chip.

Although Red Hat's announcement is certainly welcome, what's been lacking from most virtualization products has been a strong, policy-based virtual machine management system. VMware has announced it will focus on VM management, as has start-up Virtual Iron. The impact of Red Hat's virtualization road map will depend largely on the management facilities Red Hat develops.