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A Generic Checkpoint-Restart Mechanism for Virtual Machines

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Executive Summary

It is common today to deploy complex software inside a Virtual Machine (VM). Snapshots provide rapid deployment, migration between hosts, dependability (fault tolerance), and security (insulating a guest VM from the host). Yet, for each virtual machine, the code for snapshots is laboriously developed on a per-VM basis. This paper demonstrates a generic checkpoint-restart mechanism for virtual machines. The mechanism is based on a plugin on top of an unmodified user-space checkpoint-restart package, DMTCP. Checkpoint-restart is demonstrated for three virtual machines: Lguest, user-space QEMU, and KVM/QEMU. The plugins for Lguest and KVM/QEMU require just 200 lines of code. The Lguest kernel driver API is augmented by 40 lines of code. DMTCP checkpoints user-space QEMU without any new code.

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