Novell has released updates to its Suse Linux kernel designed to make the operating system more efficient when running on top of VMware environments.

The upgrade to the Suse Linux Enterprise kernel lets it take advantage of paravirtualisation techniques so it runs more efficiently as a guest operating system.

Novell has built in support for VMware's Virtual Machine Interface (VMI). "The patch to the kernel provides increased performance and better interoperability," said Carlos Montero-Luque, vice president of product management for open platform solutions at Novell.

The kernel patch is available in Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 Service Pack 2, which can be downloaded.

In a paravirtualised environment the guest operating system is modified to work more closely with the underlying hardware and not just with the virtualised environment. It is one of a handful of variants for designing virtual machine environments.

In order to take advantage of paravirtualisation, however, an operating system must be specifically ported to run on top of a host system. Novell and VMware have been working on the Suse upgrades for the past nine months.

Novell also has a kernel patch to support paravirtualisation of SLES on the Xen hypervisor that SLES uses when it is serving as a host environment.

In addition, Novell has been working with Microsoft in a lab the two opened last September to ensure SLES runs in a paravirtualised mode on top of Windows Hyper-V, which is slated to ship later this summer. The two are also ensuring Windows Server 2008 runs in enlightened mode on top of Novell's Xen hypervisor. Enlightened mode is a Microsoft technology that allows the server to recognise when it is running on top of a hypervisor and then automatically take different avenues to access memory management and IO.

"Regardless of the different environments - VMware or Hyper-V - we want SLES to be the best supported, best performing guest operating system," Montero-Luque says."We expect to see mixed environments in the future for a number of reasons and interoperability has been a key part of our strategy."

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