Operating System Virtualization

What Does Operating System Virtualization Mean?

Operating system virtualization (OS virtualization) is a server virtualization technology that involves tailoring a standard operating system so that it can run different applications handled by multiple users on a single computer at a time. The operating systems do not interfere with each other even though they are on the same computer.

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In OS virtualization, the operating system is altered so that it operates like several different, individual systems. The virtualized environment accepts commands from different users running different applications on the same machine. The users and their requests are handled separately by the virtualized operating system.

Also known as operating system-level virtualization.

Techopedia Explains Operating System Virtualization

Operating system virtualization provides application-transparent virtualization to users by decoupling applications from the OS. The OS virtualization technique offers granular control at the application level by facilitating the transparent migration of individual applications. The finer granularity migration offers greater flexibility, resulting in reduced overhead.

OS virtualization can also be used to migrate critical applications to another running operating system instance. Patches and updates to the underlying operating system are done in a timely way, and have little or no impact on the availability of application services. The processes in the OS virtualized environment are isolated and their interactions with the underlying OS instance are monitored.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.