Enterprise Linux Log

Dec 6 2007   2:30PM GMT

Fedora 8 Virtual Machine Manager a ‘total failure’


For what it’s worth, a test by Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady of Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) on Fedora 8 was “not so much success as much as total failure.”

After overcoming some preliminary hurdles (i.e., a lack of Live CDs for x86- and 64-class machines, the inability to run Fedora off a memory stick, and the need to manually add the virtualization packages), O’Grady got things stable enough to try run an Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon virtual machine (VM). But alas, it was not meant to be:

Opening Fedora’s Virtual Machine Manager, which is a very nice piece of software despite my lack of success with it, I first attempted to virtualize Ubuntu Gutsy. Start with what you know, I figured. Curiously, however, I had to manually start the libvirt daemon as it hadn’t been initiated despite the install and subsequent start of the Virtual Machine Manager. Once that was figured out, I created a Gutsy image and began the install. Everything went smoothly until it failed, complaining of “corrupt packages” and an inability to connect to the network. Given that I later used to [sic] the same disk to create an instance of Gutsy on VMWare, I think the media is fine. And the network connection worked beautifully during the initial part of the installation. So I did the easiest thing I could think of, and gave up on Gutsy.

He experienced the same sad story with Windows Server 2008:

Instead, I’d try to virtualize Windows Server 2008, as I knew Senor Dolan had successfully done just this. Forgoing his instructions, which were command line based, I thought I’d try to use the GUI just as an experiment. That failed, as it was rumored it might, due to ACPI [Advanced Configuration and Power Interface] errors. At which point I turned to Michael’s CLI method, which also failed because Fedora returned a “command not found” to kvm. Turns out that kvm is instead qemu-kvm on Fedora: my bad. After I figured that bit out, the install of Windows Server 2008 promptly bluescreened.

Ditto for Vista:

Next, I tried to virtualize Vista. Blue screen numero dos. Complicating my efforts with all of the above were the slight differences between Fedora and Ubuntu; you can’t modprobe on Fedora, apparently, even as root. Nor can you sudo, by default – su is your only option.

At that point, our intrepid analyst “cut bait” and decided to retreat back to VMware running on Ubuntu.

What’s remarkable about all this, though, is O’Grady’s tenacity and continued open-mindedness in the face of adversity. For all its flaws, Fedora Virtual Machine Manager also has its share of virtues, despite the fact that they’re well hidden:

The Virtual Machine Manager, as mentioned, comes with a nice, simple GUI that’s very usable once you get the hang of it (connect to the localhost before you try creating VMs). More importantly, the virtualization technologies under the hood in KVM and Xen are more capable than many realize. Xen, as an example, is the underlying technology behind Amazon’s EC2, and KVM is hugely popular with the distros due in part to its light weight. Both are eminently capable of virtualizating the very operating systems I failed to, and my lack of success is at least as attributable to me as it is to the packages themselves.

O’Grady remains undeterred and promises to check in with Fedora VMM again in a couple of months.

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