Paravirtualized Operating System

What Does Paravirtualized Operating System Mean?

A paravirtualized operating system is an operating system (OS) that is modified to run in a paravirtualized environment that provides a software interface to virtual machines, similar but not identical to that of the underlying hardware. In paravirtualized mode, the guest OS is explicitly ported for the para application programming interface (API) to facilitate communication with the host virtualization platform.


Techopedia Explains Paravirtualized Operating System

A paravirtualized operating system does not require whole system emulation. The management module, or hypervisor, in a paravirtualized mode, operates within a paravirtualized operating system that has been modified to work in a virtual machine.

Generally, a paravirtualized operating system performs better than a fully virtualized operating system, in which all system elements must be emulated. However, this efficiency is offered at the cost of security and flexibility. Flexibility is compromised because the OS requires modification to run in paravirtualized mode. Security is compromised because the guest OS has more control over the underlying hardware, thereby increasing risk to the lower-level hardware, which can affect all guest operating systems running on the host.

Paravirtualization’s efficiencies also can result in better scaling. Paravirtualization requires only two percent processor use per guest instance per processor, versus full virtualization, in which processor use is 10 percent per guest instance per processor.

A paravirtualized operating system can reduce overall performance degradation by relocating critical task execution from the virtual domain to the host domain.


Related Terms

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.