Late night hacking pays (sometimes): I got Xen working!

After several unsuccessful tries on various pre-existing configurations, I finally got Xen working, and it’s awesome. To me virtual machines are fascinating anyway, but Xen feels (and really is I think) like another level up.

Here’s what I did, in case you want to try it. This worked on my Proliant DL380, a retired server that’s been given to me, thanks Gaspard!

  • Start with Fedora Core 4, which seems to handle most hardware RAID controllers out of the box.
  • yum update the thing so that it’s current.
  • Add the Xen 3.0 binaries. The version that yum installs wouldn’t boot on my system, so I removed it and replaced it with that one.
  • Add Xen to /etc/grub.conf, similar to the example on the Fedora Xen Quickstart page.
  • Reboot with Xen and check that xm works.
  • Configure a debian Sarge host using debootstrap as explained here under Installing other Linux Distributions.

That’s it! Everything seems to work fine, including networking which was very easy to setup, following the provided example Xen guest configurations. A quick java benchmark showed no significant performance hit compared to booting Fedora directly.

For the hostname I selected hoover as a testimony to the slight noise the box makes.

I can’t wait to get more RAM for the box (let me know if you have some spare 1Gig modules) to set it up at lab7 so that each of us can have his own playground/test server.

I’ve been using many different virtual machine systems, from VMware to VirtualPC to usermode Linux, but for some reason Xen feels much more like a magical multiplication of my server than the other ones. Software schizophrenia maybe?

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