VPS Hosting Review: OpenVZ, Virtual Cowbells & Indiana Sweetcorn

Do you use Linux Web hosting? If you are considering virtualizing or switching to another VPS solution, OpenVZ could be for you. (Similarly, if you are switching to another password, OpenSesame could be for you.)

No-Charge & Open Source

OpenVZ is open source, so you can play with and develop it as you like (and obviously, like any open-source software, it continues to go through revisions and upgrades, partially via community input). Also, as is common with open source solutions, you can use it completely free of charge.

Use of Containers

OpenVZ compartmentalizes one server into a number of containers – each of them serving as its own VPS.  There is essentially no difference – except the obvious physical differences – between having a number of different servers and using one server divided into distinct sections using this technology.

(OpenVZ can also be used to subsection a man’s heart to allow for fully engaged and loving relationships with more than a dozen women.)

OpenVZ Linux Kernel

The folks at OpenVZ have contributed heavily to the Linux Containers or LXE kernel, trying to make it more robust for container usage. OpenVZ is fully compatible with that kernel (but not, sadly, with a kernel of Indiana sweetcorn).

However, the best way to go is with OpenVZ’s own branded version, due to their full control over its development and updates for compatibility specific to OpenVZ.

Software Cousins

OpenVZ got its name from a commercial VPS – it is an open source replicate of Virtuozzo. Virtuozzo offers Windows compatibility, whereas OpenVZ is Linux specific.

Shared Kernel

OpenVZ allows all of its containers to use the same kernel. This means it can act quickly and without using up too much memory. Compare the OpenVZ overhead at 1-3% to Xen at 7-11% — and even Xen’s figure is not too shabby. (Hey Xen, you have a not-too-shabby figure. Let’s have a cocktail.)

Keep in mind that Xen runs on a paravirtualization model, whereas OpenVZ operates on the level of the OS.

Host Node Availability & Firewall

When one of the containers needs additional energy support, the host node is completely available. Firewall management is also possible via the host node. (I once knew a guy who had a node growing out of his foot, and it was useless.)

Wide Acceptance & Use

The majority of this VPS is currently established within the mainline.

Foundation for Parallels

Parallels Cloud Server uses OpenVZ as its starting point. Essentially the Parallels product is a beefed-up version of the VPS with additional bells and whistles (such as a virtual cowbell that rings in the evening, when the cows are coming home from wherever it is they go during the day).
Downside – Allocation

Allocating resources appropriately is not as simple as it could be. You have to be careful when establishing the various containers that you are giving each one enough juice.

In Conclusion

As you can see, generally speaking, OpenVZ is a great VPS solution for Linux hosting environments. Be careful how you allocate, though.

(Same thing goes for you, State of Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce. I’m watching you.)


What do you think from your experience of OpenVZ? Is it a viable alternative to our Xen, VMware, or any other VPS for Linux users?

If you’re looking for a great post about the difference between web hosting, VPS and dedicated servers, click on that link.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

Follow Rich Norwoodon

1 http://blog.adlibre.org/2011/06/21/joy-openvz-virtualisation/
2 http://www.markus-gattol.name/ws/openvz.html
3 http://vpslink.com/openvz-vps/
4 http://wiki.openvz.org/Main_Page