Linux, politics, and other interesting things
I was asked “Can you run SELinux on a XEN guest without any problem?“. In a generic sense the answer is of course YES, Xen allows you to run Linux kernels with all the usual range of features and SE Linux isn’t a particularly difficult feature to enable. I do most of my SE Linux development and testing on virtual machines and until recently I didn’t have any hardware suitable for running KVM, so in the last few years I’ve done more SE Linux testing on Xen than on non-virtual machines. My SE Linux Play Machine  (which will be online again tomorrow) is one SE Linux system running under Xen.
But the question was asked in the context of my blog post comparing the prices of virtual hosting providers , which changes things.
Both Linode and Slicehost (the two virtual hosting providers that my clients use) provide kernels without SE Linux support, the command “grep selinux /proc/filesystems” (which is the easiest way to test for SE Linux support) gives no output. I am not aware of any other virtual hosting company that provides SE Linux support.
If anyone knows of a virtual hosting company that runs Xen or KVM virtual machines with SE Linux support then please let me know, I’ll write a blog post comparing such companies if there are some.
For the people who work at ISPs: If your company supports SE Linux virtual machines then I would be happy to review your service, just give me a free DomU for a couple of weeks so I can test it out. If your company is considering offering such virtual machines then I would be happy to have a confidential discussion about the issues that you will face, while I am available for paid consulting work in this area I am more than happy to spend an hour or two helping a company that’s going to help support my favorite free software project without expecting to be paid. But I have to note that if a dozen hosting companies happen to want advice I won’t be able to provide two hours of free advice to each of them.
I think that there is an unsatisfied market demand for SE Linux virtual machines. I don’t expect all virtual hosting companies to support it in the near future, but this will make it more profitable for those that do. If for the sake of discussion we assume that 5% of sysadmins who are making purchasing decisions regarding virtual servers really want to have SE Linux support and if 5% of virtual hosting companies were to offer such support, then those hosting companies would almost double their market share as a result of supporting SE Linux. It’s the usual economic factors relating to small companies that profit from providing good support for the needs of a minority of customers.
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