The xl toolstack

The xl toolstack, and its associated "xl" executable, provides a lot of commands to manage all domains.
You can manage guests (start/stop/reboot/destroy), dynamically add/remove hardware, set or monitor the hypervisor or guests, etc.
Commands can be sorted in two main groups, some useful for dom0, some for domUs.
Just run "xl" to get a list of the subcommands with a short description, and "xl help <subcommand>" for specific help.

bash-completion works for xl subcommands, but on Debian, root does not have bash-completion active by default. As usual, there are many places to set that, globally or not, at your own risk.
Relevant files: /root/.bashrc, a users' .bashrc, /etc/bash.bashrc.
Once set somewhere, you can "xl<space><tab>" to get the list of subcommands, and use autocompletion with root.

Some dom0 commands

Get information about a Xen host

Display a list of running domains, with their names and ids

Likewise, with live ressources usage

Display Xen console

Some domU commands

Start a domU

Reboot or shutdown a domain (the guest must support it)

Pause/unpause a domain

Destroy, aka "force kill" a crashed domain

Devices handling


Convert domain name to id and reverse

Used for commands not supporting id -and- name syntax, and you only have one of the two


Logs are available :

The various sources contain different type of logs.

xl dmesg

xl dmesg is Xen's dmesg, the hypervisor logs. They can contain dom0 and domUs machine boot logs, when started and halted, the ressources in use, etc.
Think of them as low level logs. They can be useful when a domain does not boot.

The availability of details in xl dmesg is set via the Xen command line options "loglvl" and "guest_loglvl".
Defaults if not manually set (at the time of writing) : "loglvl=warning" and "guest_loglvl=none/warning".

The buffer can also be logged to a file.
It requires setting an option in /etc/default/xen :

And then set the xenconsole parameters in the init script /etc/init.d/xen :

The logs will by default be stored in /var/logs/xen/console/hypervisor.log and /var/logs/xen/console/domu-name.log.


Contains various dom0 and domUs boot logs, and qemu logs.

/var/log/syslog or systemd's journal

For hotplugging events of devices, like NICs or disks that get attached and removed to/from domUs.
Scripts in /etc/xen/scripts, used for hotplugging events, output in the syslog.
Note: since bookworm and with systemd, you have to manually install rsyslog/syslog-ng to get the good old syslog file.


The Xenstore is used to represent a view of the system, about dom0 and domUs. It looks like a directory tree, with a root and leaves.
It is a global store used by all domains. Some parts are only accessible from dom0.
Reference on the Xen wiki : Xenstore.

To get an overview of what's in there, do xenstore-ls, but better use a pager !

The root tree is like :


Some examples :

# read top-level nodes, with or without full paths
xenstore-ls -f /local/domain
xenstore-ls /vm
xenstore-ls /libxl

# read /local node describing dom0
xenstore-ls /local/domain/0

# read /libxl nodes describing domU with id 3
xenstore-ls -f /libxl/3

# in programs
xenstore-ls -f /libxl/$(xl domid DOMU_NAME)

Non-official apps

The following apps are not provided by Xen, but may be used to manage a Xen system. All are open source and free.
With them, you can manage dom0, but also domUs.

Virtual Machine Manager (virt-manager), by libvirt

It's an hypervisor-agnostic application, part of libvirt, to manage your VMs ecosystem.
You can connect to a local hypervisor and remote ones, so you can install it on a dom0 or on a management machine.
It provides a GUI to add/edit/manage guests and network bridges.
If you've seen the VirtualBox GUI or any desktop-like hypervisor, you can imagine what it's like !

To install : apt install virt-manager

Cockpit (from redhat)

RedHat created a new tool, web-based, called cockpit. It's like webmin.

To install : apt install cockpit

Xen Orchestra (XOA) and XOA Lite

It's the management part of XCP-NG, and it's lightweight version. I don't think it's compatible with Xen on Debian, so not-XAPI vanilla Xen. Maybe the Lite one ?

CategoryXen CategoryVirtualization