Installation Considerations

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This guide will give you an idea about pre-requesites and installation considerations of the host system. It is targeted towards production systems, so some of the information provided here may or may not be important to your setup. Decide for your own demand.


Hardware Compatibility

The Linux-VServer kernel runs on many platforms, including those listed below:

  • alpha
  • arm
  • ia64
  • m68k
  • mips
  • ppc
  • ppc64
  • s390
  • sparc
  • sparc64
  • x86
  • x86_64

See Tested Configurations for details.

Hardware Availability

The host system availability is more critical than the availability of a typical server. Since it runs multiple Virtual Private Servers providing a number of critical services each, the outage of the host system may be very costly. Additionally outage can be as disastrous as the simultaneous outage of a number of servers running critical services.

Discussing all aspects of high-availability is out of the scope of this document, however the following considerations should be followed to have a clean and secure host system:

  • Use RAID storage for guest filesystems.
  • Do not run software on the host system. Instead create guest systems where you can host necessary services. The only needed service on the host system is probably sshd.
  • Do not create users on the host system. You can create as many users as you need in any guest system.

Hardware Requirements

The exact hardware configuration depends on how many Virtual Private Servers you are going to run on the computer and what load these VPSs are going to produce. Thus, in order to choose the right configuration, you should follow the recommendations below:

The more Virtual Private Servers you plan to run simultaneously, the more CPUs you need.
The more memory you have, the more Virtual Private Servers you can run. The exact figure depends on the number and nature of applications you are planning to run in your Virtual Private Servers. However, on the average, at least 1 GB of RAM is recommended for every 20-30 Virtual Private Servers
Disk space
Each Virtual Private Server occupies 10–500 MB of hard disk space for system files (depends on the use of Unification) in addition to the user data inside the Virtual Private Server (for example, web site content). You should consider it when planning disk partitioning and the number of Virtual Private Servers to run.

Choose Your Distribution

There are many different Linux distributions, or versions. A distribution is the compiled Linux source code, usually combined with extra features and software. Some distributions are available for download at no charge while others are available at affordable prices on CD-ROM from Linux retailers worldwide.

Each distribution has its own purpose, and a number of factors should go into deciding which distribution is best for each user. Some distributions are better suited to home users, others are excellent for commercial settings. Some are better suited for Intel or Macintosh PCs, other are excellent for use on high-performance computers.

Any current Linux distribution most likely contains the software needed to do the job, including kernel and drivers, libraries, utilities and applications programs. Still, one of the most common questions people ask is "which distribution should I get?" This question is often answered by an assortment of people, each proclaiming their favorite distribution is better than all the rest.

Probably most people favor the first distribution they successfully installed. Or, if they had problems with the first, they favor the next distribution they install which addresses the problems of the first, and so on.

It is not in the scope of this document to discuss features of all the distributions out there, but nearly all should work with Linux-VServer, so it is up to you to decide which distribution fits your requirements. For an overview of available distributions checkout DistroWatch.

Choose Your Kernel Version

Versioning explained

The Linux-VServer project maintains several branches of the kernel patch. Since version 1.00 the versioning is similar to the kernel versioning scheme. Even numbered releases (a.X.z with even X) are stable, reasonably well tested and expected not to change feature-wise. Odd numbered (a.Y.z with odd Y) releases are development releases. The last digit/number (z) is a subversion identifier. Experimental versions and Release Candidates might add a fourth identifier to that scheme.

Basically the stable and development releases should be similar in functionality, but the development releases will include features and enhancements not present in the stable branch. Once those features mature (and get well tested), they will be incorporated by the stable branch.

For example the first stable release (1.00) uses two systemcalls as the previous releases did. However, the vserver system calls have been changed in the first development release (1.1.0). Linus assigned the vserver project a single system call, so a System Call Switch has been implemented. Running a development release usually requires using recent (latest) tools from the util-vserver development branch.

1.X.z and 1.Y.z releases are for the 2.4 kernels, while 1.9.x (obsoleted by now) and 2.X.y releases are for the 2.6 series.

All downloads are available in the Downloads section. Also take a look at the ChangeLogs.

Feature Comparison

The following table tries to give an overview of features available in different releases.

Feature 1.00 1.20 1.2.10 1.3.8 0.09 1.9.0 1.9.2 2.0 2.1
Legacy Kernel API (vs1.2x) yes yes yes part part part part part part
Legacy Proc Filesystem yes yes yes part part part part part part
Immutable Link Invert yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Initpid and Fakeinit yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall Command Switch - yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall vkill commands - yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall rlimit commands - yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall ctx_wait support - - - - - - - yes yes
Syscall iattr commands - - - yes yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall namespace commands - - - yes yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall context flags - - - - yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall context caps - - - - yes yes yes yes yes
Syscall scheduler tuning - - - - - yes yes yes yes
Syscall 32bit compat - - - - - - - yes yes
Next gen. Proc Filesystem - - - yes yes yes yes yes yes
Chroot Barrier Flag - - - yes yes yes yes yes yes
Proc Security Flags - - yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Userspace Reboot Helper - yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Userspace Startup/Shutdown Helper - - - - - - - yes yes
VRoot Device - yes yes yes - - - yes yes
Advanced IP Selection - - - yes yes yes yes yes yes
Advanced uts_name config - - - yes yes yes yes yes yes
Fake Memory Display - - - - yes yes yes yes yes
Hard CPU limits - - - - - yes yes yes yes
Context File Tagging - - - - - yes yes yes yes
Context ID Propagation - - - - - - - - yes
NFS based File Tagging - - - - - - yes yes yes
Per Context Disk Limits - - - - - - yes yes yes
Network Context Support - - - - - yes yes yes yes
Socket Accounting - - - - - yes yes yes yes
Advanced Sysctl Debug System - - - - - - yes yes yes
Extended proc/devpts Security - - - - - - yes yes yes
Flag: Pause Context - - - - - yes yes yes yes
Flag: Hide proc/mounts - - - - - yes yes yes yes
CCap: Secure Mount - - - - - yes yes yes yes
CCap: Change host/domainname - - - - - yes yes yes yes
CCap: Modify rlimits - - - - - yes yes yes yes
CCap: Raw ICMP for Ping - - - - - - yes yes yes
Bind Mount Extensions - - - - - - - yes yes
Copy on Write Link Breaking - - - - - - - - yes
Quota Hashes - - - - - - - - yes
Persistent Context Support - - - - - - - - yes

Disk Partitioning

Since each guests is a seperate root filesystem somewhere in the host system filesystem hierarchy, it is advisable to create a partitioning scheme that fits your needs. Discussing all possible disk configuration is surely out of the scope of this document, however you should take the following guidelines into account while setting up disk space for your guest systems:

  • Generally, one big partition for all guest systems should suffice
  • If you don't want to use Disk Limits you can use one partition per guest system to limit its available disk space. However this will (in most cases) prevent an easy enlargement of disk space later on.
  • If you want to use Quota inside your guest system you have to use seperate partitions per guest system. This will probably change in the future
  • You should take care of hard disk failure, e.g. use RAID systems, make regular backups, etc.

Final Notes

If you think the information provided in this document is too vague, feel free to contact the Linux-VServer community and ask for help on your specific setup.

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