Saturday, June 06, 2009

Best Linux Virtualization for Netbooks?

So I use my Lenovo Ideapad S10 as my main Linux box nearly 40% of the time. I've 1.5GB of RAM and 120GB drive so this a decent machine. My current setup is two Linux partitions, one for Ubuntu 9.04 and the other for Debian 5.0. Ubuntu is my production distro and Debian is for bleeding edge stuff. My main requirement is to run Linux VM's (of other distros than what I run on the host) because if I need to run Windows or Solaris or whatever I can connect to a remote system. For Linux systems I want "server virtualization" meaning I don't have to have a console up. Realistically there is no single solution that will meet my requirements, but here are my thoughts on the alteratives for running on a Linux Atom-based Netbook.

1) OpenVZ - this would be my first choice. Unfortunately there are only kernel for Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and Debian for the these and Ubuntu LTS is too old to work well for a desktop on netbooks. I have yet to get the Broadcom drivers working yet on Debian and the latest stable OpenVZ kernel patches are 2.6.18. I guess the real issue is if I could get the Broadcom drivers working on the stock kernel that would be the way to go.

2) VMware Player - I don't want to put VMWare Server 2.x on my laptop and this seems like the logical choice. I already have this for BSD or Windows.

3) lguest - this is something new that I've just discovered. Can I run a CentOS VM under this. Not sure.

I don't care for VirtualBox and Qemu is too damn slow. Is there anything else I'm missing?


Joel said...

Hey Matt.

I've been playing with Xen the past week and find it's pretty good. If you're doing hardware virtualization you need the Intel/AMD virtualization instructions in your CPU, not sure if that laptop has it. Para-virtualization you can do without, but then you need a modified kernel which means Windoze is out. Have you played with Xen much or am I missing something with it?

Matt Franz said...

I like Xen for 64-bit Core 2 systems that have VT support (Windows VM performance is pretty) but the N270 processors lack this, so Xen is not a possibility.