Is it possible to share OS files between multiple VMs

Super User Asked by steven chen on November 27, 2020

I was thinking of ways to minimize resources on a server that hosts VMs with limited space. Say every VM on this server runs the same exact OS, for example Ubuntu 18.04. This is currently a purely hypothetical scenario, so I haven’t given much thought to the type of virtualization that would be used, if it would make a difference.

I am wondering if it is possible to create a read-only partition that contains the bulk of Ubuntu’s files that the individual VMs would never have to change themselves. This partition would be mounted in conjunction with the VM’s individual storage that contains things that are changed by the VM, such as whatever content is hosted on it. In essence, the read-only partition acts somewhat like a livecd.

Thus, rather than each VM having Ubuntu 18.04’s recommended 25GB of minimum space, each VM would satisfy that recommendation using the bulky shared partition + whatever smaller amount of space it individually gets.

Has anyone ever experimented with this, or is it fundamentally impossible?

One Answer

This is, kinda, what containerization (Docker) does. Not quite, but moreso than full hardware virtualization.

The OS is not just the files, but it is what those files DO together. So, no, you cannot just share one OS's files across multiple VMs.

You really need to study up on levels of virtualization and what they currently offer. Cloud offerings can get you closed to actually shared OSes across multiple tasks.

Answered by music2myear on November 27, 2020

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