When we think of free operating systems we tend to think overwhelmingly of the big hitters (all GNU/Linux) like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and Mandriva and then of those niche distros that have been designed for low end systems or for specialist purposes like security and forensics. But Oranges are not the only fruit. There is a hinterland out there called Unixland, populated by other less well known systems whose roots are firmly Unix too. BSD for example, famed for its rock-like security. OpenSolaris is another one, perhaps less well known, but it has features that are well worth a punt.
Recently there’s been a lot of news about OpenSolaris, more specifically in reference to the great progress made by virtualization technologies in it. In this article, I will exam some of these technologies, and compare them with the state of the art on other platforms.
OpenSolaris’ Zones is a mechanism that provides isolated environments with a subset of the host operating system’s privileges, allowing applications to run within the zone without any modifications (Xen is also capable of this). This makes zones useful for server consolidation, load balancing and much more.