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OpenVZ turns 7, gifts are available!

OpenVZ project is 7 years old as of last month. It's hard to believe the number, but looking back, we've done a lot of things together with you, our users.

One of the main project goals was (and still is) to include the containers support upstream, i.e. to vanilla Linux kernel. In practice, OpenVZ kernel is a fork of the Linux kernel, and we don't like it that way, for a number of reasons. The main ones are:

  • We want everyone to benefit from containers, not just ones using OpenVZ kernel. Yes to world domination!
  • We'd like to concentrate on new features, improvements and bug fixes, rather than forward porting our changes to the next kernel.

So, we were (and still are) working hard to bring in-kernel containers support upstream, and many key pieces are already there in the kernel -- for example, PID and network namespaces, cgroups and memory controller. This is the functionality that lxc tool and libvirt library are using. We also use the features we merged into upstream, so with every new kernel branch we have to port less, and the size of our patch set decreases.


One of such features for upstream is checkpoint/restore, an ability to save running container state and then restore it. The main use of this feature is live migration, but there are other usage scenarios as well. While the feature is present in OpenVZ kernel since April 2006, it was never accepted to upstream Linux kernel (nor was the other implementation proposed by Oren Laadan).

For the last year we are working on CRIU project, which aims to reimplement most of the checkpoint/restore functionality in userspace, with bits of kernel support where required. As of now, most of the additional kernel patches needed for CRIU are already there in kernel 3.6, and a few more patches are on its way to 3.7 or 3.8. Speaking of CRIU tools, they are currently at version 0.2, released 20th of September, which already have limited support for checkpointing and restoring an upstream container. Check criu.org for more details, and give it a try. Note that this project is not only for containers -- you can checkpoint any process trees -- it's just the container is better because it is clearly separated from the rest of the system.

One of the most important things about CRIU is we are NOT developing it behind the closed doors. As usual, we have wiki and git, but most important thing is every patch is going through the public mailing list, so everyone can join the fun.

vzctl for upstream kernel

We have also released vzctl 4.0 recently (25th of September). As you can see by the number, it is a major release, and the main feature is support for non-OpenVZ kernels. Yes it's true -- now you can have a feeling of OpenVZ without installing OpenVZ kernel. Any recent 3.x kernel should work.

As with OpenVZ kernel, you can use ready container images we have for OpenVZ (so called "OS templates") or employ your own. You can create, start, stop, and delete containers, set various resource parameters such as RAM and CPU limits. Networking (aside from routed-based) is also supported -- you can either move a network interface from host system to inside container (--netdev_add), or use bridged setup (--netif_add). I personally run this stuff on my Fedora 17 desktop using stock F17 kernel -- it just works!

Having said all that, surely OpenVZ kernel is in much better shape now as it comes for containers support -- it has more features (such as live container shapshots and live migration), better resource management capabilities, and overall is more stable and secure. But the fact that the kernel is now optional makes the whole thing more appealing (or so I hope).

You can find information on how to setup and start using vzctl at vzctl for upstream kernel wiki page. The page also lists known limitations are pointers to other resources. I definitely recommend you to give it a try and share your experience! As usual, any bugs found are to be reported to OpenVZ bugzilla.

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