The Linux Foundation Projects
Skip to main content

Virtual Machine (VM)

In computing, a virtual machine (VM) is the virtualization/emulation of a computer system. Virtual machines are based on computer architectures and provide functionality of a physical computer. Their implementations may involve specialized hardware, software, or a combination. Virtual machines differ and are organized by their function, shown here:

System virtual machines (also termed full virtualization VMs) provide a substitute for a real machine. They provide functionality needed to execute entire operating systems. A hypervisor uses native execution to share and manage hardware, allowing for multiple environments which are isolated from one another, yet exist on the same physical machine. Modern hypervisors use hardware-assisted virtualization, virtualization-specific hardware, primarily from the host CPUs.

Process virtual machines are designed to execute computer programs in a platform-independent environment.