DomU Support for Xen

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DomU support in Linux distributions

This page describes the current status of support in Linux distributions for running as Xen guests; if you are looking for dom0 support go here.

PV is the regular domU support that has been present in most Linux distributions for years and it is required to run on Amazon EC2 for example.

PV on HVM is a new type of Xen guest support that exploits hardware nested paging while enabling PV interfaces for IO. Depending on the workload PV on HVM guests might be faster or slower than regular PV guests. See [[[XenLinuxPVonHVMdrivers|3]]] for more information.

Distribution run as PV guest
Debian Lenny yes
Debian Squeeze yes
Ubuntu 10.04 yes[1]
Ubuntu 11.04 yes[1]
Fedora 14 yes
RHEL 5 yes
RHEL 6 yes
SLES 10 yes
SLES 11 yes
OpenSUSE 11.4 yes
Ubuntu 12.04 yes[1]
Fedora 16 yes

[1] EC2 kernel only
[2] save/restore is known to have bugs
[3] see XenLinuxPVonHVMdrivers for resources about using optimized (paravirtualized) PV-on-HVM drivers

DomU support in BSDs and other Unix systems

This list is currently incomplete. We are in the process of verifying support for Unixes.

Distribution run as PV guest
FreeBSD 8.2 yes[3]
NetBSD 5.1 yes[4]
OpenIndiana[5] no[5]

[3] See FreeBSD Xen page for more information
[4] See NetBSD Xen HowTo for more information
[5] There has not yet been a stable release of OpenIndiana and there is some unclarity on whether it will work as PV guest

DomU support for Windows

Windows falls into the category of an unmodified operating system (in other words an operating system that has not been altered specifically to run on the Xen hypervisor). Thus, paravirtualization is not an option. The best way, therefore, to virtualize Windows is to use as a HVM) guest. The Windows 7/XP/Vista/Server 2008 section of the HowTos document points to instructions explaining how to do this.

However, James Harper maintains a set of PV drivers that allow Windows to make use of the network and block backend drivers in Dom0. This gives Windows on Xen a substantial performance boost. The table below shows the drivers available.

Distribution run as PV guest
Windows Vista no
Windows XP no
Windows 2008 no
Windows 2003 no
Windows 2000 no
Windows 7 no

[6] GPLPV drivers can be downloaded from; further information can be found on XenWindowsGplPv
[7] Signed GPLPV drivers are available for download from Uninvention

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