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Upstream documentation can be found in the `xen-docs-3.0` package.

Overview

Modern computers are sufficiently powerful to use virtualization to present the illusion of many smaller virtual machines (VMs), each running a separate operating system instance. Successful partitioning of a machine to support the concurrent execution of multiple operating systems poses several challenges. Firstly, virtual machines must be isolated from one another: it is not acceptable for the execution of one to adversely affect the performance of another. This is particularly true when virtual machines are owned by mutually untrusting users. Secondly, it is necessary to support a variety of different operating systems to accommodate the heterogeneity of popular applications. Thirdly, the performance overhead introduced by virtualization should be small.

Xen is a virtual machine monitor for x86 that supports execution of multiple guest operating systems with unprecedented levels of performance and resource isolation. Xen is Open Source software, released under the terms of the GNU General Public License. We have a fully functional ports of Linux 2.6 running over Xen, and regularly use it for running demanding applications like MySQL, Apache and PostgreSQL. Any Linux distribution (RedHat, SuSE, Debian, Mandrake) should run unmodified over the ported OS.

In addition to Linux, members of Xen's user community have contributed or are working on ports to other operating systems such as NetBSD (Christian Limpach), FreeBSD (Kip Macy) and Plan 9 (Ron Minnich).

Installation etch/sid

Upstream documentation can be found in the xen-docs-3.0 package.

Dom0 (host)

  • Choose and install a xen-linux-system-KERNELVERSION package. This installes the kernel, a hypervisor and matching utilities.

  • On i386, install libc6-xen. This means that you don't have to delete /lib/tls or move it out of the way, as suggested by most Xen guides).

  • You may find the xen-tools package helpful. It is a set of scripts to manage guest Xen domains that run Debian/Ubuntu/CentOS. More information and examples at http://xen-tools.org/software/xen-tools/.

You can get a list of all xen-linux-system packages with a command such as apt-cache -n search xen-linux-system, or by consulting [http://packages.debian.org/cgi-bin/search_packages.pl?keywords=xen-linux-system&searchon=names&subword=1&version=all&release=all packages.debian.org]. As of 21 November 2006, the following packages are available:

  • xen-linux-system-2.6.17-2-xen-686

    testing (etch)

    xen-linux-system-2.6.17-2-xen-k7

    testing (etch)

    xen-linux-system-2.6.18-2-xen-686

    unstable

    xen-linux-system-2.6.18-2-xen-k7

    unstable

    xen-linux-system-2.6.18-2-xen-vserver-686

    unstable

Debian 4.0 (etch) will release with the -2.6.18-2 packages.

/!\ It appears the 2.6.18 kernel is more suitable than the 2.6.17 kernel. If you are using testing (etch) before these packages filter in, you should probably download them from http://packages.debian.org/, or use AptPinning to do so automatically.

DomU (guests)

Default setup

  • Install linux-modules-KERNELVERSION.

  • On i386, install libc6-xen.

KERNELVERSION should match the version of the kernel installed in your dom0.

pygrub setup

TODO

Old stuff

I am just about to get started installing xen with Debian as dom0 and Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat as domU. There are multiple Howto's about that, unfortunately I don't see which of them is really useful, still undecided which one I will use. If someone can say something clear about which of these describes a really working, easy, and good way to go, comments would be cool:

These are only half of those I found, there are also numerous describing all that for Ubuntu Linux - very confusing. The people at cosi.clarkson.edu seem to do some stuff, also, but their stuff is also very badly documented. Anybody having any insights on that is really welcome to comment here!

See also [http://alioth.debian.org/projects/pkg-xen Xen packaging at Alioth]