Virtualization support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Virtualization is an integral component of the Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® platform. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 and later include the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), which takes advantage of the latest hardware virtualization capabilities and is tightly integrated with the Linux kernel. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 also includes an enterprise-hardened variant of the Xen-based virtualization technology.

A guest instance of an operating system running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux can be run in 1 of 2 different modes: para-virtualized (PV) and fully virtualized (FV).

  • The para-virtualized mode requires a Xen-enabled version of the guest operating system. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 host must be running the Xen-specific kernel-xen package.
  • The fully virtualized mode lets unmodified guest operating systems run, but requires specific hardware (Intel-VT or AMD-V) to provide virtualization capabilities. The fully virtualized mode is available with Xen-based virtualization since Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 5.0 and KVM-based virtualization since Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 5.4.

Red Hat generally supports different versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a guest as well as other specified third-party operating systems. Please refer to the virtualization support matrix¹ for details on the supported combinations of host and guest operating systems and architectures.

Red Hat also provides a set of optimized PV drivers for fully virtualized guests, which will directly talk to the hypervisor instead of emulated hardware. These drivers might require a minimum minor release as the host and operating system. The virtualization support matrix¹ provides detailed information about the available PV driver support.

For supported third-party operating systems² listed in the virtualization support matrix¹, Red Hat will provide commercially reasonable efforts to isolate problems that customers encounter and provide solutions for defects in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization environment. However, Red Hat doesn't provide any support for the third-party operating system itself.

If the problem falls into the domain of the third-party operating system, Red Hat will request that the customer contact the operating system vendor directly or Red Hat may engage with the vendor on behalf of the customer for further investigation. Please note that you might be required to provide a support contract with any third-party operating system vendor for continued support.

If the problem falls into the domain of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization environment, Red Hat will continue to provide support in accordance with the subscription agreement associated with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux instance.

Red Hat may also provide para-virtualized drivers for a selected subset of the supported third-party guest operating systems.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization support matrix

  1. Please see chart below for details.
  2. Please note that running in a virtualized environment may be subject to the third-party operating systems license agreement.

Legend
PV Para-virtualized (Xen): guest kernel optimized for virtualization
FV Fully virtualized (Xen or KVM): unmodified guest kernel, requires virtualization support in hardware
Optimized Supported; PV or optimized PV drivers provided, fully certified stack (e.g., Microsoft SVVP)
Supported Supported but no or limited optimized PV drivers provided, limited certification (for Windows Server e.g. Microsoft WHQL but no SVVP)
Unsupported Not supported and might not work
N/A Not a valid combination
Tech preview Technically possible, but not yet supported

  Virtualization platform, kernel and processor architecture
Guest operating system RHEL 6 64-bit x86_64 (KVM), RHEV-H 6 RHEL 5 64-bit x86-64 (KVM)1, RHEV-H 5 RHEL 5 64-bit x86-64 (Xen) RHEL 5 32-bit x 86-32 (PAE, Xen) RHEL 5 IA64
Supported enterprise Linux combinations
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 x86-64 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 x86-32 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized3 Optimized3 N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 IA64 FV N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 x86-64 PV N/A N/A Optimized N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 x86-64 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized3 N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 x86-32 PV N/A N/A Optimized4 Optimized N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 x86-32 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized3 Optimized3 N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 IA64 FV N/A N/A N/A N/A Supported
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 x86-64 PV N/A N/A Optimized N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 x86-64 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized3 N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 x86-32 PV N/A N/A Optimized4 Optimized N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 x86-32 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized3 Optimized3 N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 IA64 PV N/A N/A N/A N/A Optimized
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 IA64 FV N/A N/A N/A N/A Supported
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 x86-64 PV N/A N/A Optimized2 N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 x86-64 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized2 N/A N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 x86-32 PV N/A N/A Optimized2 Optimized2 N/A
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 x86-32 FV Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized2 Optimized2 N/A
Supported third-party guest operating systems
Windows Server 2000 32-Bit x86 Unsupported Unsupported Supported Supported N/A
Windows Server 2000 IA64 N/A N/A N/A N/A Supported
Windows Server 2003 32-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A
Windows Server 2003 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows Server 2003 IA64 N/A N/A N/A N/A Optimized5
Windows Server 2003 R2 32-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A
Windows Server 2003 R2 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows Server 2003 R2 IA64 N/A N/A N/A N/A Optimized5
Windows Server 2008 32-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A
Windows Server 2008 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows Server 2008 IA64 N/A N/A N/A N/A Optimized5
Windows Server 2008 R2 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows Server 2008 R2 IA64 N/A N/A N/A N/A Optimized5
Windows Server 2012 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows XP 32-Bit x86 Optimized6 Optimized6 Supported Supported N/A
Windows XP 64-Bit x86 Unsupported Unsupported Unsupported N/A N/A
Windows Vista 32-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A
Windows Vista 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows 7 32-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows 7 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows 8 32-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
Windows 8 64-Bit x86 Optimized5 Optimized5 Optimized5 N/A N/A
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 32-Bit x86 Supported7 Supported7 N/A N/A N/A
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 64-Bit x86 Supported7 Supported7 N/A N/A N/A
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 32-Bit x86 Supported7 Supported7 N/A N/A N/A
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 64-Bit x86 Supported7 Supported7 N/A N/A N/A
Certified third-party hypervisors and hardware partitioning technologies
Generic virtualization solutions In addition to the integrated Red Hat virtualization technology, Red Hat also supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a guest on VMware and Hyper-V as generic virtualization platforms. This means that Red Hat Enterprise Linux on these virtualization platforms is certified and supported independent of the underlying physical hardware (aside from any hardware pass-through). Please note that Red Hat supports the guest operating system. Direct support for the third-party virtualization platform will come from the respective vendor. Please refer to the hardware certification catalog for details on the verified products and versions.
Hardware partitioning Red Hat supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux on hardware partitioning and virtualization solutions like IBM System z, IBM Power, Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST, or Hitachi Virtage hardware partitioning. These are certified as part of the physical hardware but not supported generically (e.g., on noncertified hardware). Please refer to the hardware certification list for information on certified hardware.
Red Hat in the cloud Red Hat supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a guest in the cloud. For private, in-house cloud-type deployments, this support matrix applies. Please refer to the Red Hat Certified Cloud Provider program for more information on supported public cloud providers.
Other third-party guest operating systems A customer may run non-Red Hat-branded guest operating systems—which are not certified and not actively supported by Red Hat on Red Hat virtualization products—without invalidating Red Hat's support for the Red Hat virtualization platform. Red Hat will support the virtualization product itself but for any non-Red Hat-branded guest operating system, including any para-virtualized drivers, the customer will need to obtain support from the respective vendor of that product.

The third-party vendor providing and supporting the particular guest instance may escalate issues through regular backend support interfaces if such a relationship with Red Hat exists. At Red Hat's discretion, the third-party guest operating system vendor may be required to reproduce failures on a fully supported configuration. Red Hat, in its sole discretion, may from time to time take commercially reasonable steps to address issues associated with uncertified third-party guest operating systems.

Notes

  1. KVM virtualization was introduced in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 for x86-64 hosts.
  2. For best performance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux guests on Red Hat Enterprise Linux hosts with KVM, para-virtualized I/O drivers (virtio-drivers) are required to be installed in the guest. They were introduced in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 with 5.3, in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 with 4.8, and in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 with Errata Advisory RHEA-2009:1425-1. Please refer to Red Hat Customer Portal for details on how to use it. Starting with version 5.4 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, the pv-drivers are integrated into the kernel package. Please also consider the documentation section on timing issues.
  3. For best performance of fully virtualized Red Hat Enterprise Linux guests on version 5 hosts with Xen, para-virtualized I/O drivers (xenpv) are required to be installed in the guest. These drivers are available in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 with 5.3, for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, and for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 with Red Hat Errata Advisory RHEA-2008-0274 and later updates.
  4. Support for para-virtualized x86-32 guests on a x86-64 host environment is fully supported with version 5.4 or later.
  5. For best performance, the para-virtualized I/O drivers (virtio-win) are required to be installed in the Windows guests. The drivers are made available as images in the Supplementary channel of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 host OS. Please refer to Red Hat Customer Portal for details. Please see the Microsoft SVVP site for certification details.
  6. As of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5. SEVEN
  7. Red Hat tests and supports the latest service pack of the guest operating system. Red Hat will work with the vendors of specific versions of the guest operating systems to resolve Red Hat hypervisor issues. The customer or partner offering a vendor-supported guest OS will contact the vendor of that OS. The vendor will then be responsible for appropriate escalations to Red Hat.