A new virtualization technology called Kernel Virtual Machine, or KVM, is now an official part of Linux. KVM is included in the 2.6.20 version of the Linux kernel that Linux founder and leader Linus Torvalds released Sunday.
In a mailing list posting, Torvalds summarized the changes in 2.6.20 as, "A lot of stuff. All over. And KVM."
Another open-source virtual machine option, Xen, already is under widespread development and is distributed with some versions of Linux. Like Xen, KVM can run Windows and Linux. KVM requires virtualization hardware support available in newer x86 processors from AMD and Intel, technologies called AMD-V and IVT, respectively.
Virtualization is a broad technology, but these days it generally refers to the ability to carve a single computer up into several independent operating-system instances. That's handy for consolidating work onto fewer, more-efficiently used servers and for creating data centers that can be reconfigured more easily to adapt to changing workloads.