Move getting help section from system administration to introduction
[pve-docs.git] / pve-intro.adoc
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1Introduction
2============
3
4{pve} is a platform to run virtual machines and containers. It is
5based on Debian Linux, and completely open source. For maximum
6flexibility, we implemented two virtualization technologies -
7Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and container-based virtualization
8(LXC).
9
10One main design goal was to make administration as easy as
11possible. You can use {pve} on a single node, or assemble a cluster of
de5c87d9 12many nodes. All management tasks can be done using our web-based
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13management interface, and even a novice user can setup and install
14{pve} within minutes.
15
16image::images/pve-software-stack.svg["Proxmox Software Stack",align="center"]
17
18
19Central Management
20------------------
21
22While many people start with a single node, {pve} can scale out to a
23large set of clustered nodes. The cluster stack is fully integrated
24and ships with the default installation.
25
5eba0743 26Unique Multi-Master Design::
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27
28The integrated web-based management interface gives you a clean
29overview of all your KVM guests and Linux containers and even of your
30whole cluster. You can easily manage your VMs and containers, storage
31or cluster from the GUI. There is no need to install a separate,
5eba0743 32complex, and pricey management server.
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98d7e09a 34Proxmox Cluster File System (pmxcfs)::
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35
36Proxmox VE uses the unique Proxmox Cluster file system (pmxcfs), a
37database-driven file system for storing configuration files. This
38enables you to store the configuration of thousands of virtual
39machines. By using corosync, these files are replicated in real time
40on all cluster nodes. The file system stores all data inside a
41persistent database on disk, nonetheless, a copy of the data resides
42in RAM which provides a maximum storage size is 30MB - more than
43enough for thousands of VMs.
98d7e09a 44+
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45Proxmox VE is the only virtualization platform using this unique
46cluster file system.
47
98d7e09a 48Web-based Management Interface::
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49
50Proxmox VE is simple to use. Management tasks can be done via the
5eba0743 51included web based management interface - there is no need to install a
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52separate management tool or any additional management node with huge
53databases. The multi-master tool allows you to manage your whole
54cluster from any node of your cluster. The central web-based
55management - based on the JavaScript Framework (ExtJS) - empowers
56you to control all functionalities from the GUI and overview history
57and syslogs of each single node. This includes running backup or
58restore jobs, live-migration or HA triggered activities.
59
98d7e09a 60Command Line::
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61
62For advanced users who are used to the comfort of the Unix shell or
63Windows Powershell, Proxmox VE provides a command line interface to
64manage all the components of your virtual environment. This command
65line interface has intelligent tab completion and full documentation
66in the form of UNIX man pages.
67
98d7e09a 68REST API::
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69
70Proxmox VE uses a RESTful API. We choose JSON as primary data format,
71and the whole API is formally defined using JSON Schema. This enables
72fast and easy integration for third party management tools like custom
73hosting environments.
74
98d7e09a 75Role-based Administration::
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5eba0743 77You can define granular access for all objects (like VMs, storages,
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78nodes, etc.) by using the role based user- and permission
79management. This allows you to define privileges and helps you to
80control access to objects. This concept is also known as access
81control lists: Each permission specifies a subject (a user or group)
82and a role (set of privileges) on a specific path.
83
98d7e09a 84Authentication Realms::
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85
86Proxmox VE supports multiple authentication sources like Microsoft
87Active Directory, LDAP, Linux PAM standard authentication or the
88built-in Proxmox VE authentication server.
89
90
5eba0743 91Flexible Storage
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92----------------
93
94The Proxmox VE storage model is very flexible. Virtual machine images
95can either be stored on one or several local storages or on shared
96storage like NFS and on SAN. There are no limits, you may configure as
97many storage definitions as you like. You can use all storage
98technologies available for Debian Linux.
99
100One major benefit of storing VMs on shared storage is the ability to
101live-migrate running machines without any downtime, as all nodes in
102the cluster have direct access to VM disk images.
103
104We currently support the following Network storage types:
105
106* LVM Group (network backing with iSCSI targets)
107* iSCSI target
108* NFS Share
109* Ceph RBD
110* Directly use iSCSI LUNs
111* GlusterFS
112
113Local storage types supported are:
114
115* LVM Group (local backing devices like block devices, FC devices, DRBD, etc.)
116* Directory (storage on existing filesystem)
117* ZFS
118
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120Integrated Backup and Restore
121-----------------------------
122
8c1189b6 123The integrated backup tool (`vzdump`) creates consistent snapshots of
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124running Containers and KVM guests. It basically creates an archive of
125the VM or CT data which includes the VM/CT configuration files.
126
127KVM live backup works for all storage types including VM images on
128NFS, iSCSI LUN, Ceph RBD or Sheepdog. The new backup format is
129optimized for storing VM backups fast and effective (sparse files, out
130of order data, minimized I/O).
131
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133High Availability Cluster
134-------------------------
135
136A multi-node Proxmox VE HA Cluster enables the definition of highly
137available virtual servers. The Proxmox VE HA Cluster is based on
138proven Linux HA technologies, providing stable and reliable HA
139services.
140
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142Flexible Networking
143-------------------
144
145Proxmox VE uses a bridged networking model. All VMs can share one
146bridge as if virtual network cables from each guest were all plugged
147into the same switch. For connecting VMs to the outside world, bridges
148are attached to physical network cards assigned a TCP/IP
149configuration.
150
151For further flexibility, VLANs (IEEE 802.1q) and network
152bonding/aggregation are possible. In this way it is possible to build
153complex, flexible virtual networks for the Proxmox VE hosts,
154leveraging the full power of the Linux network stack.
155
8c1189b6 156
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157Integrated Firewall
158-------------------
159
5eba0743 160The integrated firewall allows you to filter network packets on
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161any VM or Container interface. Common sets of firewall rules can
162be grouped into ``security groups''.
163
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164
165Why Open Source
166---------------
167
168Proxmox VE uses a Linux kernel and is based on the Debian GNU/Linux
169Distribution. The source code of Proxmox VE is released under the
170http://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.html[GNU Affero General Public
171License, version 3]. This means that you are free to inspect the
172source code at any time or contribute to the project yourself.
173
174At Proxmox we are committed to use open source software whenever
175possible. Using open source software guarantees full access to all
176functionalities - as well as high security and reliability. We think
177that everybody should have the right to access the source code of a
178software to run it, build on it, or submit changes back to the
179project. Everybody is encouraged to contribute while Proxmox ensures
180the product always meets professional quality criteria.
181
182Open source software also helps to keep your costs low and makes your
183core infrastructure independent from a single vendor.
184
5eba0743 185
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186Your benefit with {pve}
187-----------------------
188
189* Open source software
190* No vendor lock-in
191* Linux kernel
192* Fast installation and easy-to-use
193* Web-based management interface
194* REST API
195* Huge active community
196* Low administration costs and simple deployment
197
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198include::getting-help.adoc[]
199
5eba0743 200
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201Project History
202---------------
203
204The project started in 2007, followed by a first stable version in
5eba0743 2052008. At the time we used OpenVZ for containers, and KVM for virtual
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206machines. The clustering features were limited, and the user interface
207was simple (server generated web page).
208
209But we quickly developed new features using the
210http://corosync.github.io/corosync/[Corosync] cluster stack, and the
211introduction of the new Proxmox cluster file system (pmxcfs) was a big
212step forward, because it completely hides the cluster complexity from
213the user. Managing a cluster of 16 nodes is as simple as managing a
214single node.
215
216We also introduced a new REST API, with a complete declarative
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217specification written in JSON-Schema. This enabled other people to
218integrate {pve} into their infrastructure, and made it easy to provide
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219additional services.
220
221Also, the new REST API made it possible to replace the original user
222interface with a modern HTML5 application using JavaScript. We also
223replaced the old Java based VNC console code with
224https://kanaka.github.io/noVNC/[noVNC]. So you only need a web browser
225to manage your VMs.
226
227The support for various storage types is another big task. Notably,
228{pve} was the first distribution to ship ZFS on Linux by default in
2292014. Another milestone was the ability to run and manage
230http://ceph.com/[Ceph] storage on the hypervisor nodes. Such setups
231are extremely cost effective.
232
233When we started we were among the first companies providing
234commercial support for KVM. The KVM project itself continuously
5eba0743 235evolved, and is now a widely used hypervisor. New features arrive
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236with each release. We developed the KVM live backup feature, which
237makes it possible to create snapshot backups on any storage type.
238
239The most notable change with version 4.0 was the move from OpenVZ to
240https://linuxcontainers.org/[LXC]. Containers are now deeply
241integrated, and they can use the same storage and network features
242as virtual machines.