Virtualization technology has advanced much since it was first introduced and provides a wealth of benefits to users. By supporting the use of virtual machines on unRAID 6, we can run an even wider array of applications in isolated environments. While Docker containers are the preferred method for running Linux-based headless applications, virtual machines offer these unique benefits:
- Run non-Linux operating systems (e.g., Windows).
- Utilize driver support for physical devices independent of unRAID OS.
- Provide a means to consolidate hardware and save money.
unRAID Server OS runs as a virtualization host, leveraging a hypervisor to partition resources to virtualized guests in a secure and isolated manner. Virtual machines can be assigned a wider array of resources than Docker containers but still offer the same benefits of isolated access to those resources. This allows unRAID servers to perform a variety of other tasks than just network-attached storage.
Support Localized VMs
Traditional virtual machine implementations tend to focus on interacting with those VMs through remote graphics connections. While convenient, remote graphics just don’t yield the same user experience as a locally attached monitor, mouse and keyboard. And accelerated graphics are required to make sure media playback is smooth and gaming graphics quality is high. That’s where unRAID 6 truly stands apart in allowing you to utilize a GPU (graphics card) as well as locally attached input devices to directly interact with a VM, and completely blur the lines between virtual and physical machine user experiences.
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Our implementation of KVM includes modern versions of QEMU, libvirt, VFIO*, VirtIO, and VirtFS. We also support Open Virtual Machine Firmware (OVMF) which enables UEFI support for virtual machines (adding SecureBoot support as well as simplified GPU pass through support). This allows for a wide array of resources to be assigned to virtual machines ranging from the basics (storage, compute, network, and memory) to the advanced (full PCI / USB devices). We can emulate multiple machine types (i440fx and Q35), support CPU pinning, optimize for SSDs, and much more. Best of all, these virtualization technologies won’t impact the reliability of the host operating system.
* Specifically for PCI device passthrough, your system must support Intel VT-d or AMD-Vi. You can validate support for Intel VT-d through the Intel ARK site, and searching for your CPU, but AMD does not provide such a means to search for support (you can try here). unRAID also supports the pass through of USB devices such as keyboards, mice, webcams, and more. This makes it easy to create virtual desktops that you can interact with using locally attached devices on the system (USB device pass through does not require the use of Intel VT-d capable hardware).