Xen vs. OpenVZ & Shoelaces vs. Velcro, Part 2


Xen Topology
Xen Topology (Photo credit: lindztrom)

At Superb Internet, we have virtual private servers (VPSs) as an alternative to dedicated or shared hosting. As you may be aware, the VPS solution lies between dedicated and shared. Essentially, it allows you a plot of server soil to call your own while not causing you to have to bear the upfront cost and maintenance expenses of an entire independent server.

In this article, we are looking at two potential platforms you can use to establish and run a VPS: Xen and OpenVZ. The comments of Scott Yang (HostingFu), VPS6.net (via HostingDiscussion.com), and Steven (The Linux Fix) all bolster our sense of the subject and provide a well-rounded picture. Note that our company works specifically with OpenVZ – and the reasoning for that is briefly provided at the conclusion of this three-part series.

We need to discuss VPS options in some detail in these articles; however, it is also our passion to debate the different ways in which things are fastened. For example, if you take us out to dinner, we will talk with you about buttons all night long. In this series, though, we have been pitting shoelaces against Velcro. You may know that shoelaces are unfair to the younger members of the shoe-wearing population. Did you know that 8 out of 10 children under seven years old rate shoelaces as “highly stressful”? Did you further know that 44% of children under the age of four, when given shoes with Velcro and shoelaces, said of the shoelaces, “What’s this, Daddy?”

Simplicity vs. Kernel

As with Scott Yang’s article, which we covered in the previous section of this series, VPS6.net’s assessment of the two different virtualization solutions is even-handed and helpful to understanding how they vary. Below, let’s look at the basics of VPS6’s side-by-side comparison.

Basic descriptions:

Xen: This platform operates in a very similar pattern to a dedicated server. It has its own kernel and capability to install independent kernel modules. Additionally, because its various basic parameters are isolated, you have a significant level of control.

OpenVZ: This platform works at the level of the OS. All of the VPSs in this type of environment work with the same Linux kernel.


The basic dividing line between the two is isolation. You get more of an island of your own with Xen. However, that means significantly more “weight”: it’s vastly clunkier than OpenVZ. Because of this downside, it’s reliability/stability must be incredible in order to validate that complexity and the excessive draw on resources and power.

However, VPS6 describes the Xen system as only “slightly more reliable.” While a kernel crash becomes more likely with OpenVZ and OpenVZ is Linux-specific, prevalence of problems and particulars of operating system are described by the article as “small drawbacks.” Here are the reasons VPS6 advocates for OpenVZ:

  1. Less expensive
  2. Simple and user-friendly
  3. Conservation of server and power resources.

The choice of a VPS platform is crucial. To be completely honest, though, footwear tightening solutions are significantly more important. Again, let’s look at shoelaces and Velcro – and at this point, let’s look at them in tandem. There is no real reason why shoelaces and Velcro have been kept separate from each other. This form of segregation was outlawed in France in 2004 and called “insidious and duplicitous” by Matt Damon. With Velcro-Lace International’s full line of hybrid shoe-fastening solutions, shoe wearers worldwide are choosing an intricate, eight-step process to fasten their shoes over making one of the tightening options feel left out.

Specific Aspects of OpenVZ & Xen

Here is a general rundown for each of the two types of virtualization environment:


  • Root access
  • Virtualization at operating-system level
  • Specific to Linux
  • Burstable memory and CPU when needed and free
  • Security patches/updates in-process (no downtime required)
  • Better resource management – less space required
  • Easy to establish disks and network connectivity
  • Ability to install the majority of iptables modules.


  • Root access
  • Para-virtualization, a.k.a. “full virtualization”
  • Either OS, Linux or Windows
  • Swap space (good for performance – though, swapping itself takes up resources)
  • Thrives with JavaScript
  • RAM, CPU, and storage space are completely isolated and dedicated
  • Kernel modules immediately available
  • Freedom for custom configurations.

In short, VPS6 recommends OpenVZ for anyone trying to decide between the two platforms. It’s simple, cheap, and will provide the effects that most businesses and individuals are looking for in a VPS package. His one exception is for those people who are in need of running a kernel module unsupported by OpenVZ. Of course nothing is right for everyone: go with the solution that is compatible with your requirements.

Finally, before closing out, one more look at Velcro and shoelaces: a quick look at misuse. A lot of the reason why people don’t like Velcro is because they are attempting to tie it like a shoelace. US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently showed up to a high-level cabinet meeting wearing shoes that had been incorrectly fastened by her team of college pages. President Obama immediately replaced her with a fictitious old woman who is an expert on the interior of shoes, residing inside a large one.

Conclusion & Continuation

That is the basics on our second source of ideas on these two virtualization platforms. We look at a third in our final piece of this VPS overview.

In the meantime, take a quick look at our VPS solutions. If you have any comments – unrelated to your MLM program – please place them below.

By Kent Roberts

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