Linux Virtual Server

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Linux Virtual Server (LVS) is an open source technology which can be used to construct a scalable and highly available server using a collection of real servers. The Linux Virtual Server Project (LVS) allows load balancing of networked services such as web and mail servers using Layer 4 Switching. It is extremely fast and allows such services to be scaled to service 10s or 100s of thousands of simultaneous connections. Here we describes about various features of LVS to load balance Internet services, and how this can be made highly available using tools such as such as heartbeat and keep alived. It will also cover more advanced topics which have been the subject of recent development including maintaining active connections in a highly available environment and using active feedback to better distribute load.


Virtual server is a highly scalable and highly available server built on a cluster of real servers. The architecture of server cluster is fully transparent to end users, and the users interact with the cluster system as if it were only a single high-performance virtual server. The real servers and the load balancers may be interconnected by either high-speed LAN or by geographically dispersed WAN. The load balancers can dispatch requests to the different servers and make parallel services of the cluster to appear as a virtual service on a single IP address, and request dispatching can use IP load balancing technologies or application-level load balancing technologies. Scalability of the system is achieved by transparently adding or removing nodes in the cluster. High availability is provided by detecting node or daemon failures and reconfiguring the system appropriately.

The Linux Virtual Server (LVS) implements layer 4 switching in the Linux Kernel. This allows TCP and UDP sessions to to be load balanced between multiple real servers. Thus it provides a way to scale Internet services beyond a single host. HTTP and HTTPS traffic for the World Wide Web is probably the most common use. Though it can also be used for more or less any service, from email to the X Windows System.
LVS itself runs on Linux, however it is able to load balance connections from end users running any operating system to real servers running any operating system. As long as the connections use TCP or UDP, LVS can be used.
LVS is very high performance. It is able to handle upwards of 100,000 simultaneous connections. It is easily able to load balance a saturated 100Mbitethernet link using inexpensive commodity hardware. It is also able to load balance saturated 1Gbit link and beyond using higher-end commodity hardware.


????????? The Linux Virtual Server can be used to build highly scalable and high available network services, such as a scalable web, mail or media service.
The basic goal of the Linux Virtual Server is to build a high-performance and highly available server for Linux using clustering technology, which provides good scalability, reliability and service ability. The LVS cluster system is also known as load balancing server cluster.
The active LVS router serves two roles:

  • To balance the load across the real servers.
  • To check the integrity of the services on each real server.

The backup LVS router monitors the active LVS router and takes over from it in case the active LVS router fails.

The three-tier architecture of LVS illustrated in Figure includes:

  • Load balancer, is the front end to the service as seen by the outside world. The load balancer directs network connections from clients who know a single IP address for services, to a set of servers that actually perform the work.
  • . Server pool, consits of a cluster of servers that implement the actual services, such as web, ftp, mail, dns, and so on.
  • Backend storage, provides the shared storage for the servers, so that it is easy for servers to keep the same content and provide the same services.

Figure: The 3-tier Architecture of Linux Virtual Server The load balancer handles incoming connections using IP load balancing techniques, it selects servers from the server pool, maintains the state of concurrent connections and forwards packets, and all the work is performed inside the kernel, so that the handling overhead of the load balancer is low. Therefore, the load balancer can handle much larger number of connections than a general server, thus a load balancer can schedule a large number of servers and it will not be a bottleneck of the whole system soon.
The server nodes in the above architecture may be replicated for either scalability or high availablity. Scalability is achieved by transparently adding or removing a node in the cluster. When the load to the system saturates the capacity of existing server nodes, more server nodes can be added to handle the increasing workload. Since the dependence of most network services is often not high, the aggregate performance should scale linearly with the number of nodes in the system, before the load balancer becomes a new bottleneck of the system. Since the commodity servers are used as building blocks, the performance/ cost ratio of the whole systemis as high as that of commodity servers.
One of the advantages of a clustered system is that it has hardware and software redundancy. High availability can be provided by detecting node or daemon failures and reconfiguring the system appropriately so that the workload can be taken over by the remaining nodes in the cluster. We usually have cluster monitor daemons running on the load balancer to monitor the health of server nodes, if a server node cannot be reached by ICMP ping or there is no response of the service in the specified period, the monitor will remove or disable the server in the scheduling table of the load balancer, so that the load balancer will not schedule new connections to the failed one and the failure of server nodes can be masked.
Now, the load balancer may become a single failure point of the whole system. In order to prevent the failure of the load balancer, we need setup a backup of the load balancer. Two heartbeat daemons run on the primary and the backup, they heartbeat the health message through heartbeat channels such as serial line and UDP periodically. When the heartbeat daemon on the backup cannot hear the health message from the primary in the specified time, it will use ARP spoofing (gratutious ARP) to take over the virtual IP address to provide the load-balancing service. When the primary recovers from its failure, there are two methods. One is that the primary becomes to the backup of the functioning load balancer; the other is that the daemon receives the health message from the primary and releases the virtual IP address, and the primary will take over the virtual IP address. However, the failover or the takeover of the primary will cause the established connection in the state table lost in the current implementation, which will require the clients to send their requests again.

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