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Canonical launches world’s fastest hypervisor, LXD


on 5 November 2015

Tags: LXC , LXD

This article was last updated 8 years ago.

London, November 5th 2015 – Canonical today released in beta the world’s fastest hypervisor, LXD, which takes a pure-container approach to Linux virtualization and offers dramatic performance and density advantages over VMware ESX and Linux KVM for private and public cloud infrastructure. LXD delivers up to 15 times the density of KVM for idle workloads, and dramatically reduced jitter and latency with increased throughput for I/O intensive workloads such as telecom NFV, big data and machine learning.

“This is the biggest change in Linux virtualisation in 10 years” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu. “Canonical’s kernel and related container work enables a whole new level of performance and density for Linux virtualization in private cloud and server consolidation initiatives.”

Canonical leads development of the open source Linux Containers project, widely adopted for “machine containers” which behave as lightweight virtual machines without the overhead of hardware emulation or virtualization. The LXD hypervisor is part of Linux Containers (LXC) Release 2.0.

Projects such as Docker focus on single-process application containers. Canonical and LXD focus on machine containers, which offer a familiar VM experience, enabling users to run any guest Linux on their LXD host. The two types of containers, machine containers and application containers, work well together – it is possible to use app containers inside LXD machine containers just as you would on a VM.

Canonical’s Ubuntu is the leading OS in use with containers; as the basis of most PAAS offerings and more than 70% of all Docker images, Ubuntu is the platform most widely used for container-based research and production deployments. “Containers enable very efficient deployment and very rapid development iteration of distributed systems and infrastructure” said Shuttleworth, “We are delighted that Ubuntu underpins this wave of systems innovation.”

LXC 2.0b1 with LXD is now available in Ubuntu 15.10 and also available in the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS backport repositories, the most widely used operating system for cloud guests and developers. Canonical has published this beta for broad-based testing as LXD will be included by default in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, the next long-term supported release of Ubuntu due in April 2016.

LXD offers all the core features of a hypervisor, including the ability to start, stop, clone and live-migrate guests between machines. “Our goal is to provide users with the experience they are familiar with from KVM and ESX, without the overhead of hardware virtualisation” said Dustin Kirkland, product manager for Ubuntu Server at Canonical. “Anyone can consume a VM – it’s a standard machine experience. LXD offers VMs with much better density, performance and latency than traditional hypervisors.”

Canonical has also integrated LXD as a hypervisor in Ubuntu OpenStack, the leading OpenStack distribution, for large-scale container-based cloud infrastructure. “The speed of LXD enables high-performance computing with OpenStack” said Mark Baker, product manager for OpenStack at Canonical. “It also dramatically increases the density and economic efficiency of OpenStack for private clouds, setting a new standard for ROI on virtualisation and server consolidation.” Ubuntu is used as the operating system for 65% of large production OpenStack deployments, many of which will benefit from the performance and density of LXD.

LXD offers the lowest possible latency and jitter, crucial for network-centric workloads such as telco network function virtualisation (NFV), thanks to its consolidation of all guests around a single shared Linux kernel. “The ability to pin specific guest processes to real physical cores, as well as guarantee low latency even under pressure, is unique to LXD in the cloud world” said Artur Tyloch, who leads Canonical’s telecom practice.

Canonical is working with leading CPU vendors to ensure silicon-guaranteed isolation of containers on future revisions of their hardware. For the moment, LXD makes use of industry-standard Linux isolation mechanisms to isolate containers from one another, an approach that is similar to that used in the defense industry for application confinement. “Container security is appropriate for private clouds and will be comparable to public cloud virtualisation security with future CPUs” said Dustin Kirkland.

Detailed instructions for testing and using LXD and LXC 2.0b1 are available at and packages are available for all current supported releases of Ubuntu.

Want to learn more about LXD on OpenStack? Register for our free webinar

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