A hypervisor is used to create and manage virtual machines. But what is a Linux hypervisor? And is it different from other similar software?
Virtualization is a neat way of experimenting with different operating systems. Generally, software like VirtualBox or VMware is used to set up and use virtual machines. But what exactly is VirtualBox or VMware? Well, they are hypervisors.
Hypervisors are software that you can use to create and run virtual machines. So, what is a Linux hypervisor? What are its features, and how is it different from Windows hypervisors?
A Linux hypervisor is a technology built into the Linux kernel that helps turn your Linux system into a type 1 (native) hypervisor that can host multiple instances of virtual machines.
Kernel-based Virtual Machine or KVM is a prominent open-source Linux hypervisor that's a popular virtualization technology on Linux and is currently maintained by Red Hat.
KVM was first publicly announced in 2006 and has since been merged into the Linux kernel. If you're running a Linux kernel version 2.6.20 or newer, you already have KVM installed in your system.
At the very core, a Linux hypervisor offers a few key features centered around scalability, performance, and security. Some basic features of a Linux hypervisor are:
Linux hypervisor, KVM, differs from Windows hypervisor, Hyper-V, in not a lot of ways. Both are highly reliable hypervisors that can scale to tackle massive workloads and are equally popular among enterprises and enthusiasts.
While there are a few internal differences between KVM and Hyper-V, the only major one is KVM is open-source, and Hyper-V is not. This shouldn't come across as surprising as KVM is baked into the Linux kernel, the face of open-source software.
There are two types of hypervisors and multiple options for each type. There's no such thing as the best hypervisor software or technology. The type of hypervisor and software best for you boils down to the nature of use, among a couple of other factors.
So, to get the best virtualization experience, you should first understand your requirements and then learn about the different virtualization options. Only then will you be able to make an educated choice.
Debarshi Das is an independent security researcher with a passion for writing about cybersecurity and Linux. With over half a decade of experience as an online tech and security journalist, he enjoys covering news and crafting simplified, highly accessible explainers and how-to guides that make tech easier for everyone. While he's programming and publishing by day, you'll find Debarshi hacking and researching at night.