Xen

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This document explains how you setup Xen for Arch Linux

What is Xen?

According to the Xen development team: "The Xen hypervisor, the powerful open source industry standard for virtualization, offers a powerful, efficient, and secure feature set for virtualization of x86, x86_64, IA64, PowerPC, and other CPU architectures. It supports a wide range of guest operating systems including Windows®, Linux®, Solaris®, and various versions of the BSD operating systems. (more)".

Basically Xen exists out of two components: the Xen hypervisor, and the userland tools to manage that hypervisor. In Xen terminology anything virtualized is called a "domain".

Terminology

In this document I will be refering to a few basic concepts:

  • Host OS: this is the operating system that hosts the guests.
  • Guest OS: this is the operating system running in virtualization.
  • Domain: when we are talking about virtualization, a domain is one of the virtual machines that run on the system. Domain0 is the first domain started by the Xen hypervisor at boot, and will be running a Linux OS. This domain is privileged: it may access the hardware and can run the XenControlTools that manage other domains. These other domains are referred to as DomUs, the U standing for "user". They are unprivileged, and could be running any operating system that has been ported to Xen.

The hypervisor

The hypervisor is actually a modified linux kernel. It is currently based on kernel 2.6.18.8. This also means that your hardware must be supported by that kernel. A Xen kernel is provided by the linux-xen package.

Userland tools

These tools allow controlling the guests that are running on the system. You can find these tools in the xen package.


Setting up Xen

Installing the necessary packages

Configuring GRUB

Resources

  • Xen's homepage: [1]
  • The Xen Wiki: [2]