1.1 Introduction

SUSEĀ® Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack contains disk and network device drivers for a number of third-party operating systems in order to enable the high-performance hosting of these unmodified guest operating systems on top of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (SLES 10) SP1. The guest operating systems supported by this driver pack are:

Virtualization allows the consolidation of Linux workloads on newer, more powerful, energy-efficient hardware. Paravirtualized operating systems such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are aware of the underlying virtualization platform, and can therefore interact efficiently with it. Unmodified operating systems are unaware of the virtualization platform and expect to interact directly with the hardware. Because this is not possible when consolidating servers, the hardware must be emulated for the operating system. Emulation can be slow, but it is especially troubling for high-throughput disk and network subsystems. Most performance loss occurs in this area.

The device drivers in SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack bring many of the performance advantages of paravirtualized operating systems to unmodified operating systems because only the paravirtualized device driver (not the rest of the operating system) is aware of the virtualization platform. For example, a paravirtualized disk device driver appears as a normal, physical disk to the operating system. However, the device driver interacts directly with the virtualization platform (with no emulation) to efficiently deliver disk access, allowing the disk and network subsystems to operate at near native speeds in a virtualized environment, without requiring changes to existing operating systems.