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Xen Project Well Represented at SUSECon and openSUSE Summit

What do a chameleon, a panda, and a mouse have in common?  More than you might imagine, unless you were present at SUSECon and the openSUSE Summit at the Walt Disney Coronado Springs resort last week in Florida.  During the week, it was clear that the SUSE chameleon and Xen panda could happily coexist in Mickey Mouse’s home turf.

Geeko, the openSUSE Chameleon

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at both conferences. The week started with 3 and a half days of SUSECon, an event dedicated to SUSE’s commercial Linux products, and finished with 2 days of openSUSE Summit, which celebrates the Open Source distribution. Key people from both worlds filled the halls, and the schedule boasted an excellent assortment of talks.

At least a half dozen different sessions included some Xen-related content at SUSECon, not to mention additional sessions at openSUSE Summit.  Both the Open Source openSUSE distribution and the commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) boast support for multiple virtualization engines (Xen, KVM, Linux containers, etc.).  While this might not seem too significant, it is a refreshing departure from many companies in the industry which insist on hawking their preferred virtualization technology. On platforms where hypervisors have equal footing, Xen has the opportunity to shine — and usually does.

Continued…

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Xen Project Developer Summit Slides and Videos are Live

Most of the Xen Project Developer Summit Videos and Presentations are now live on Xenproject.org. I wanted to thank all our speakers and attendees for making this year’s Xen project Developer Summit a success and am looking forward to next year’s event.

A few Highlights


Will Auld from Intel explains how any unmodified OS could be used as HVM Dom0 in Xen


Luwei Cheng talks about his research on TCP performance in VMs

Lovene Bhatia from Samsung shows two Android VMs running on a Nexus 10

Note that we will be running a series of in-depth articles on some of the topics that have been discussed at the Xen Project Developer and User Summits over the coming months. Some presentations, videos and Bof notes are still missing. Please check the Dev Summit page occasionally for updates.

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Xen Project will co-host FOSDEM’14 Virtualisation and IaaS DevRoom

fosdem14

We are pleased to announce that the Xen Project will co-host a two-day Virtualisation and IaaS DevRoom at FOSDEM’14, alongside Redhat and the Openstack Foundation.

Call for Papers: Closes December 1st

The Call for Papers for the DevRoom will be open until December 1st. The scope for this devroom is open source, openly-developed projects in the areas of virtualisation and IaaS type clouds, ranging from low level to data center, up to cloud management platforms and cloud resource orchestration.

Sessions proposals should always target a developer audience and proposals for collaborative sessions that would be appealing to developers from multiple projects will be preferred. FOSDEM is about collaboration and unique in that it brings developers from many different projects and technologies together.

We (the DevRoom organizers) are particularly interested in the following themes:

  • Innvovation in low level virtualisation
  • New features in classic and container-based virtualisation technologies
  • New use cases for virtualisation, such as virtualisation in mobile, automotive and embedded in general
  • Other resource virtualisation technologies: networking, storage, … and their integration into other projects
  • Deep technical dives into specific IaaS or virtualisation management project’s features
  • Relationship between IaaS projects and specific dependencies (not just virtualisation)
  • Integration and development leveraging solutions from multiple projects

More information about the CfP and how to submit a proposal here.

FOSDEM

The Xen Project has had a strong presence at FOSDEM in the last two years and FOSDEM is always a lot of fun and very productive. It is entirely volunteer organized and free to attend, which makes the event different from many other open source events. Why not check out our event report from last year and submit a talk proposal for our DevRoom.

Posted in Events.


My first Xen Developer Summit: expectations vs reality

Last week I was in Edinburgh to attend my first Xen Project Developer Summit. It turned out quite different from my expectations, so I thought I’d share a bit about my experience.

When I first saw the call for participation I wasn’t sure that I had anything sufficiently relevant to contribute that would be of interest to the community. But I decided there wouldn’t be any harm in submitting a proposal for a talk, and it came as a bit of a surprise when I learned that it had been accepted.

My day job is to work on the performance and scalability of XenServer, Citrix’s enterprise-grade virtualisation platform built on Xen. The XenServer engineering team had recently made great strides in improving VM density scalability so it was natural for my talk to be on this topic. The reason for my uncertainty over the relevance of this talk was that it was all about stuff built around the hypervisor and not so much about the hypervisor itself. Evidently I was wrong to assume that this wouldn’t be of interest.

So who’s in the Xen community?

Once my talk had been accepted, I looked forward to attending and seeing what the Xen community looks like. My expectation was that it would be a meeting of the regulars on the xen-devel mailing list verbalising the same kind of discussions as are typically held on there. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing, but I’d have been an outsider on the sidelines, being unable to give or take a lot from this.

But I was wrong. The attendees constituted a surprisingly broad group of people. There were some from academia, others from industry. There were some doing research and others commercialising it. There were some who were hacking on the Xen hypervisor itself and others involved with construction of products built on top of it.

Luwei Cheng talks about his research on TCP performance in VMs

Luwei Cheng talks about his research on TCP performance in VMs

What about the talks?

Compared to similar-sized conferences I’ve attended in other fields of technology in the past, the quality of talks delivered at the Xen Developer Summit was generally very high; I was impressed. And there was an excellent range of presentations, covering a good variety of topics. I was surprised to find that there were many that were relevant to my own work. I was especially interested by talks on:

But it wasn’t all about performance! For those with interest in other topics, there was plenty of content concerning Xen-on-ARM, Android support, GPU integration, security, microkernel VMs, and a lot more.

So I very much enjoyed my first Xen Developer Summit. There was a real buzz around the Xen community. I learned a lot and made some great contacts, and hope that I’ll be able to return to future Summits.

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Announcing the Release of Xen Project 4.3.1

We are pleased to announce the release of Xen 4.3.1.  The is the latest point release in the Xen 4.3 series of releases.

Downloads:

This is available immediately from its git repository:

xenbits.xenproject.org/gitweb/?p=xen.git;a=shortlog;h=refs/heads/stable-4.3 (tag RELEASE-4.3.1).

It is also available for download from the XenProject.org website:

xenproject.org/downloads/xen-archives/supported-xen-43-series/xen-431.html

Fixes:

This fixes the following critical vulnerabilities:

  • CVE-2013-1922 / XSA-48 qemu-nbd format-guessing due to missing format specification
  • CVE-2013-2007 / XSA-51 qemu guest agent (qga) insecure file permissions
  • CVE-2013-1442 / XSA-62 Information leak on AVX and/or LWP capable CPUs
  • CVE-2013-4355 / XSA-63 Information leaks through I/O instruction emulation
  • CVE-2013-4356 / XSA-64 Memory accessible by 64-bit PV guests under live migration
  • CVE-2013-4361 / XSA-66 Information leak through fbld instruction emulation
  • CVE-2013-4368 / XSA-67 Information leak through outs instruction emulation
  • CVE-2013-4369 / XSA-68 possible null dereference when parsing vif ratelimiting info
  • CVE-2013-4370 / XSA-69 misplaced free in ocaml xc_vcpu_getaffinity stub
  • CVE-2013-4371 / XSA-70 use-after-free in libxl_list_cpupool under memory pressure
  • CVE-2013-4375 / XSA-71 qemu disk backend (qdisk) resource leak
  • CVE-2013-4416 / XSA-72 ocaml xenstored mishandles oversized message replies

We recommend all users of the 4.3 stable series to update to this latest point release.

Among the bug fixes and improvements (around 80 since Xen 4.3.0):

  • Adjustments to XSAVE management
  • Bug fixes to nested virtualization
  • Bug fixes for other low level system state handling
  • Bug fixes to the libxl tool stack

Posted in Announcements, Xen Hypervisor.

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10 years of Xen : Transforming a Dinosaur
into a Bird (or winged Panda)

Xen Hypervisor development started at Cambridge University as part of the Xenoserver research project in the late 90’s. The goal of Xenoserver was ambitious:

The Xenoserver project is building a public infrastructure for wide-area distributed computing. We envisage a world in which Xenoserver execution platforms will be scattered across the globe and available for any member of the public to submit code for execution. The sponsor of the code will be billed for all the resources used or reserved during the course of execution. This will serve to encourage load balancing, limit congestion, and hopefully even make the platform self-financing.

Today, this model of computing is called cloud computing. And the Xen Hypervisor was – and indeed is today – instrumental in enabling the biggest cloud in production. Not only are Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Public cloud based on Xen. New large deployments such as Verizon Public Cloud also chose Xen as basis for their offering.

Happy 10th Birthday

On October 21st, 2003 at the 19th ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles the Xen Hypervisor was first revealed as an open source project to the public. Exactly 10 years ago. Time to wish the project a Happy 10th Birthday!

The Burden of being First :
Or what happened to the Dinosaurs?

Sometimes being the first open source project in its field can become a burden. Why? Because, community problems can build up unchecked. The simple fact is that lack of competition can cause complacency. This is what happened to the Xen Project. For the first few years of its life the project operated without governance, became insular, didn’t promote itself and failed to engage its users and contributors. When its first open source competitor – KVM – gathered steam, the community was slow to respond and change.

Continued…

Posted in Community.


Xen Project to join Round 7 of the Gnome Outreach Program For Women

OPW Poster

OPW Poster

The Xen Project is pleased to announce that the Xen Project Advisory Board will be sponsoring one intern for Round 7 of the Gnome Outreach Program For Women.

The Outreach Program for Women (OPW) internships were inspired in many ways by Google Summer of Code and by how few women applied for it in the past. This was reflective of a generally low number of women participating in the FOSS development. The GNOME Foundation first started the internships program with one round in 2006, and then resumed the effort in 2010 with rounds organized every half a year. In the January-April 2013 round, many other FOSS organizations joined the program.

The application deadline for interns is November 11, 2013. For a list of projects for interns and more information on how to apply, check our Xen Project OPW portal.

Round 6 of OPW

In round 6 of the Program, we had two interns that worked on Xen Components in the Linux kernel:

  • Elena Ufimtseva worked on virtual NUMA for the Xen Project. Elena will be presenting at Xen Project Developer Summit next week. Why not come and see her talk?
  • Lisa Nguyen worked on Xen block drivers in the linux kernel’ Lisa presenter her work at LinuxCon NA 2013. Check out her slides!

We asked both Elena and Lisa to talk a bit about their work and experiences, in their own words.

Continued…

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Fedora 20 Virtualization Test Day Report

So, it was Fedora Virtualization Test Day last Tuesday and I actually went down and took the occasion for some good testing of Xen on the next Fedora release (Fedora 20, codename Heisenbug). Fedora is going to ship Xen 4.3 (and there are not many other mainstream distribution doing that), so it is very important to try to make sure it will be as good as possible for Fedora users!

A lot of information on how to (well, how you should have… but it’ll be for next time ;-P) participate  to such event are available on our Wiki. What I am up to, here, is reporting how some of the tests I did that day went. Hopefully, this would give an idea of where we stand, regarding the integration of Xen in Fedora, as well as how well Xen itself works with Fedora’s default virtualization toolstack, i.e., libvirt.

Setting up the testing environment

Well, you at least need a Fedora 20 installation, in order to test Xen on Fedora 20. For the details, have a look at the already mentioned wiki page. Here I’m only going to say that I decided to go for a PXE-boot based install, which I did by downloading the following files:

 $ wget http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/stage/20-Beta-TC2/Fedora/x86_64/os/images/pxeboot/vmlinuz
 $ wget http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/stage/20-Beta-TC2/Fedora/x86_64/os/images/pxeboot/initrd.img

and by preparing an appropriate entry in my PXE server configuration (usually a file called pxeconfig.cfg):

label fedora-20btc1-amd64-s
    KERNEL fedora/20/x86_64/Beta-TC2/vmlinuz
    APPEND initrd=fedora/20/x86_64/Beta-TC2/initrd.img repo=http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/stage/20-Beta-TC2/Fedora/x86_64/os/ console=ttyS0,115200n8 text serial

Screenshot from 2013-10-08 15_19_37

Mind the console=ttyS0,115200n8 text serial in case you want to run the install on a serial console, like I’m doing in this case.

On a second test box, I did a proper graphical install (still via PXE). No big difference, really, just follow the guided procedure, then grab a coffe` and wait for this screen (on the right) to happear.

Installing Xen and rebooting into Dom0

After finishing installing the host, we need to install Xen, libvirt and some libvirt related tools. It’s all described in this other Wiki page, so let’s skip it here…. Just follow that instructions and reboot into the following:

Fedora release 20 (Heisenbug)
Kernel 3.11.2-301.fc20.x86_64 on an x86_64 (hvc0)

odyn login: root
Password:

# cat /etc/fedora-release 
Fedora release 20 (Heisenbug)
# sudo uname -a
Linux odyn.uk.xensource.com 3.11.3-301.fc20.x86_64 #1 SMP Thu Oct 3 00:57:21 UTC 2013 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
# virt-what 
xen
xen-dom0

Well, I guess we can make a note of the first important fact of the Test Day:

  • Fedora 20 works quite nicely and straightforwardly as Xen Dom0!

Creating guests

Ok, let’s move forward to creating some guest. In Fedora, when you want to create and install a guest, especially a Fedora guest, you do it with virt-install. Period. So, let’s do that, a Fedora 20 PV guest, on a Fedora 20 Dom0, with virt-install, installed from the serial console too. It’s actually more easily done than said:

 # lvcreate -nf20_64 -L10G /dev/fedora_odyn
 # virt-install --paravirt --name f20_64 --ram 2048 --vcpus 4 -f /dev/fedora_odyn/f20_64 --network bridge=virbr0 --location http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/stage/20-Beta-TC2/Fedora/x86_64/os/ --graphics none
=====================================================================
Installation

 1) [x] Installation source               2) [!] Timezone settings
        (http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pu          (Timezone is
        b/alt/stage/20-Beta-TC1/Fedora/          not set.)
        x86_64/os/)                       4) [!] Set root password
                                                 (Password is not set.)
 3) [!] Install Destination               6) [!] Software selection
        (No disks selected)                      (GNOME Desktop)
 5) [!] Create user
        (No user will be created)
 7) [x] Network settings
        (Wired (eth0) connected)
  Please make your choice from above ['q' to quit | 'c' to continue |
  'r' to refresh]: 
[anaconda] 1:main* 2:shell  3:log  4:storage-log  5:program-log

Let’s now head to my second test box, and do something similar, which lead us where this screenshot shows:

Screenshot from 2013-10-08 16_50_31

I also created another PV guest and an HVM guest there, with similar procedures. From all this, we can reasonably assess the following:

  • Fedora 20 works fine both as a PV and HVM Xen guest.

Playing with the guests with virsh

Now, what about, seeing what we have running:

# virsh list
Id Name State
----------------------------------------------------
39     F20-HVM                               running
40    fedora20                               running

Pausing and resuming both the PV and HVM guests:

# virsh suspend F20-HVM
Domain F20-HVM suspended
# virsh suspend fedora20
Domain fedora20 suspended
# virsh list
Id Name State
----------------------------------------------------
39      F20-HVM                               paused
40     fedora20                               paused

# virsh resume F20-HVM
Domain F20-HVM resumed
# virsh resume fedora20
Domain fedora20 resumed
# virsh list
Id Name State
----------------------------------------------------
39     F20-HVM                               running
40    fedora20                               running

And, finally, saving-&-restoring one of them

# virsh save fedora20 /tmp/savefile
Domain fedora20 saved to /tmp/savefile
# virsh list
Id Name State
----------------------------------------------------
39      F20-HVM                              running

# virsh restore /tmp/savefile
Domain restored from /tmp/savefile
# virsh list
Id Name State
----------------------------------------------------
39      F20-HVM                              running
41     fedora20                              running

I also tried importing and cloning a VM, as described here and here, and it all worked.

Any issues, then? There indeed was one. Basically, it looks like reaching the guest’s PV console via virsh does not work, while it is fine with xl console:

# virsh console fedora20
Connected to domain fedora20
Escape character is ^]
error: internal error: cannot find character device (null)

# xl console fedora20
Fedora release 20 (Heisenbug)
Kernel 3.11.2-301.fc20.x86_64 on an x86_64 (hvc0)

fedora20 login: root
Password:
[root@fedora20 ~]#

And I will of course report that to the appropriate mailing list/bugzilla.

What’s there, what’s missing

The previous section reveals that not only Xen is straightforward to install and works quite well on Fedora 20 as a Dom0, and that Fedora 20 works quite well as a Xen PV or HVM guest. It also shows how the basic VM lifecycle of a Xen guest, in Fedora 20, can be handled nicely enough with libvirt and the related tools (virt-install, virt-manager, virt-viewer, etc.). That of course does not exclude the possibility of using Xen’s default command line toolstack (xl).

The only two relevant missing features, at the time of writing, in the libvirt libxl driver are:

  • PCI Passthrough
  • live migration

Yes, big ones, I know. However, consider the following:

  1. that does not mean that PCI Passthrough and migration does not work on Xen on Fedora at all. They do work via the xl toolstack, they are just not available via libvirt;
  2. this is going to be solved soon, as the libvirt libxl driver maintainer Jim Fehling reported recently on xen-devel. In fact, this is the patch series for PCI Passthrough, and this is the patch series implementing live migration, and there are pretty good chances that both these patches make it in libvirt before Xen 4.4 release time (so, not in time for Fedora 20, but still not bad at all).

So, stay tuned since, as Jim says, “Slowly, with each libvirt release, the libxl driver is improving”.

Conclusions

Fedora really does a great job with these Test Days. All of it: the planning, the managing, the reporting… An example that many other project should look at and try to follow (and actually, Xen Project is trying, as we also started having Xen Test Days).

Participating to the latest Fedora Virtualization Test Day has been really nice, although we need to do a better job in convincing more Xen folks to be there and do some Xen specific testing. Anyway, I am really glad to have had the chance to verify how well Xen 4.3 will work on Fedora 20.

It is actually quite important that we get a good Xen on Fedora test coverage, at least as far as running the next release of Fedora as a Xen DomU is concerned. In fact, being a functional Xen guest is one of the release blockers for a Fedora release, as in, if release X does not work as a Xen guest, it can’t be released!

Since testing Xen on Fedora is, for the most part, testing Xen integration with libvirt, what about producing some libvirt test-cases for OSSTest? That would be very cool, and we are already working on it. Another interesting thing would be to also have OSSTest could try to build and run Xen on various distro (as host), instead than using only Debian, as it is doing right now. This is a bit more tricky than the above, but we are thinking at how to do that too (standalone mode could, perhaps, help).

Posted in Community, Uncategorized, Xen Case Study, Xen Hypervisor.

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Xen Project User Summit Videos Available

xen_user_summit_bgFor those community members, who could not attend the Xen Project User Summit in New Orleans, we now published all the videos on our video stream. For your convenience, we also created a portal page that links to all recordings of the user summit. Again, a big Thank You to our speakers and to Russell Pavlicek for organizing the event.

Event Recordings and other information on Events

events-on-videoIn future, we will be recording all Xen Project events such as user and developer summits. You will be able to find recordings of Xen Events on the events page in a box marked Xen Events On Video. Also, if you want to know if there are any Xen talks at an event you are planning to attend, why not check out our events calendar?

Don’t Forget: Xen Project Developer Summit is around the corner

A quick reminder: our Developer Summit is just round to corner! We have a great line up of topics covering the latest developments in server and cloud to new frontiers in virtualization in mobile, automotive and embedded!

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Fedora 20 Virtualization Test Day is today!

Fedora Logo

Yes, today (Tuesday, October 8th) is one of the Fedora 20 Test Days, more specifically, Virtualization Test Day.

Specific information regarding testing Xen on the new Fedora can be found in this Wiki page. For attending and participating, join us now on IRC at #fedora-test-day (Freenode)!

Fedora 20 will be one of the first mainstream distros shipping Xen 4.3, so come and help us making sure it will work great for you and all Fedora users!!

Posted in Announcements, Community, Events, Xen Development.

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