Outreach Program Projects

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The Xen Project is a Linux Foundation collaborative project that develops the

  • Xen Hypervisor (for x86 and ARM) - the bulk of this page
  • The XAPI toolstack (see #Mirage_OS)
  • Mirage OS (see #XAPI)
  • We also have some infrastructure, tooling and community related projects that run across all the sub-projects. These are slightly different from other projects, in terms of skills: see #Infra_and_Community

The project also has excellent relationships with its upstreams (Linux Kernel, the BSDs, QEMU and other projects) and upstreams such as Linux distributions. This is reflected in the project list, which contains many interesting cross-project development projects for applicants.

Finding a project that fits you

This page lists Xen Project development projects for Outreachy (formerly the Outreach Program for Women) that can be picked up by anyone! If you're interesting in hacking Xen Project code and want to become a part of our friendly developer community this is the place to start! Ready for the challenge?

To work on a project:

  • Find a peer-reviewed project from below that looks interesting. If you do not find an interesting issue, you can also go to Xen UserVoice, pick a few projects from there and ask on xen-devel@ whether the chosen project(s) would be suitable for Outreachy. Note that some of them may be too large or complex for Outreachy.
  • Send an email to the relevant mailing list (see Developer Mailing Lists) and let us know if you are interested in starting to work or applying on a specific project.
  • Post your ideas, questions, RFCs to the relevant mailing list sooner than later so you can get comments and feedback.
  • Easy test projects to fulfil the Make a Small Code Contribution Requirement: An easy way to get started (and show that you can set up the Xen Development Environment, fix an issue, build and test Xen, submit a patch, etc.) is to address a suitable number of https://www.xenproject.org/help/contribution-guidelines.html#coverity Coverity Scan issues].
    • Note that you will not be allowed to access Coverity scan logs. This is, because the Coverity service may discover security issues that have to be handled in compliance with our responsible disclosure practices as described in Xen Security Problem Response Process. Thus, the full database of issues cannot simply be made public.
    • You have to ask on xen-devel@ for a set of suitable issues and later you may ask for access to coverity scan or for a bug on /bugs.xenproject.org.

You have your own project idea: no problem!

  • If you have your own project idea, outline what you are trying to do on the mailing list. If you know the right list, post your project idea on mailing list. Failing that post on xen-devel and we can redirect you to the right list. Make sure you add Outreachy <round> to the subject line.

It is a good idea to ...
The Xen Project has also participated in the Gnome Outreach Program for Women (OPW) and Google Summer of Code (GSoC) in the past. One of the things we learned by participating in these programs is that you will be more successful, happier and get more out of participating in internship programs, if you do a bit of prep-work before writing an application. Here is some stuff you can do:

  • Contact your mentor early and get to know him or her
  • Start hanging out on our IRC channel. You can use the #xen-opw IRC channel on freenode.net for now
  • You may want to ask the mentor for a couple of small bitesize work-items (such as reviewing someones patch, a bitesize bug, ...) and start communicating on the relevant mailing list. That helps you become familiar with our development process, the mentor and other community members and will help you chose the right project and help you decide whether the Xen project is for you.
  • Note that quite a few Xen maintainers used to be GSoC participants once. Feel free to ask community dot manager at xenproject dot org to put you in touch with them if you have questions about their experience.
  • Any work you submit before applying for a project should be based on xen-unstable development tree, if the project is Xen Hypervisor and/or tools related. Linux kernel related patches should be based on upstream kernel.org Linux git tree (latest version). XAPI and Mirage OS patches should be based on the right codeline too. Check out the navigation by audience section on the left to find resources.

More resources

Quick links to changelogs of the various Xen related repositories/trees: Please see XenRepositories wiki page!

Before to submit patches, please look at Submitting Xen Patches wiki page and the relevant Xen Project team page. This will contain more information.

If you have new ideas, suggestions or development plans let us know and we'll update this list!

Aspiring Participants

  • Please contact the mentor and CC the most appropriate mailing list
  • Get a bite-size task from the mentor before the application starts
  • If you feel comfortable with an idea, please put your name to an idea using the following format
{{project
...
|Review=(delete as addressed)
* {{Comment|~~~~:}} I am interested in this idea ... 
                    (note that you may also want to link to the e-mail thread with the mentor)
  • You will need to request write access to the wiki by filling out this form


Outreach Program Project Ideas

List of peer reviewed Projects

Xen Hypervisor Userspace Tools

golang bindings for libxl

Date of insert: 02/11/2016; Verified: 02/11/2016; GSoC: yes
Technical contact: George Dunlap <george.dunlap@citrix.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Straightforward
Skills Needed: Familiarity with both C and the Go language
Description: libxl is a robust library designed to be able to drive all necessary interaction with a Xen system; it's the library on which both xl and libvirt-xen are written. The Go programming language (http://www.golang.org) is a modern language spawned out of Google that aims to be a useful, small, typed language for user-level systems programming. As such, it is an obvious choice to write a control daemon or other system on top of libxl. The goal of this project would be to sketch out an initial implementation of Go language bindings for libxl, along with a test suite to make sure that the interface works and is useable (as well as to serve as a template).
Outcomes: A draft Go interface that appropriately represents the libxl interface (or a useful subset). Code which implements that interface; in particular translating elements from the C interface into Go structures and interacting with the garbage collector. A test / example program to demonstrate the functionality and utility of the interface.
Peer Review Comments
(delete as addressed)
  • Pictogram voting comment 15px.png Lars.kurth (talk) 13:26, 28 February 2017 (UTC): This either needs to be re-written or removed as the task is already worked on


KDD (Windows Debugger Stub) enhancements

Date of insert: 01/30/2014; Verified: 02/11/2016; GSoC: yes
Technical contact: Paul Durrant <paul.durrant@citrix.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: C, Kernel Debuggers, Xen, Windows
Description: kdd is a Windows Debugger Stub for Xen hypervisor. It is OSS found under http://xenbits.xen.org/gitweb/?p=xen.git;a=tree;f=tools/debugger/kdd;h=fd82789a678fb8060cc74ebbe0a04dc58309d6d7;hb=refs/heads/master

kdd allows you to debug a running Windows virtual machine on Xen using standard Windows kernel debugging tools like WinDbg. kdd is an external debugger stub for the windows kernel. Windows can be debugged without enabling the debugger stub inside windows kernel by using kdd. This is important for debugging hard to reproduce problems on Windows virtual machines that may not have debugging enabled.

Expected Results:

  1. Add support for Windows 8.1 and 10 (x86, x64) to kdd
  2. Add support for Windows Server 2012 to kdd
  3. Enhance kdd to allow WinDbg to write out usable Windows memory dumps (via .dump debugger extension) for all supported versions
  4. Produce a user guide for kdd on Xen wiki page
Nice to have: Allow kdd to operate on a Windows domain checkpoint file (output of xl save for e.g.)
Outcomes: Code is submitted to xen-devel@xen.org for inclusion in the xen-unstable project.


Rust bindings for libxl

Date of insert: 18/02/2016; Verified: 18/02/2016; GSoC: yes
Technical contact: Doug Goldstein <cardoe@cardoe.com>; Wei Liu <wei.liu2@citrix.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: Knowledge of both C and the Rust language with an understanding of FFI
Description: libxl is a robust library designed to be able to drive all necessary interaction with a Xen system; it's the library on which both xl and libvirt-xen are written. The Rust programming language (http://www.rust-lang.org) is a modern language from Mozilla that aims to be a useful, small, typed language for user-level systems programming. As such, it is an obvious choice to write a control daemon or other system on top of libxl. The goal of this project would be to sketch out an initial implementation of Rust language bindings for libxl, along with a test suite to make sure that the interface works and is useable (as well as to serve as a template). Applicants will be asked to show some example Rust code as well as C code.
Outcomes: A draft Rust interface that appropriately represents the libxl interface (or a useful subset). Code which implements that interface; in particular translating elements from the C interface into Rust structures. A test / example program to demonstrate the functionality and utility of the interface.

Xen Toolstack

Xen Hypervisor

Fuzzing Xen hypercall interface

Date of insert: 8/02/2017; Verified: 8/2/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Wei Liu <wei.liu2@citrix.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Very high
Skills Needed: Strong C and ASM skills, good knowledge of GCC toolchain, good knowledge of GNU Make, good knowledge of fuzzing in general, good kernel programming and user space programming skills
Description: The Xen Project has been using American Fuzzy Lop (AFL) for fuzzing and achieve useful results. Up until now we've only been able to adapt some Xen components to be fuzzed in a userspace program. There is untapped potential in using AFL (or other fuzzers) to fuzz hypercall interface. AFL (and other coverage guided fuzzers) requires feedback from the fuzzing target to mutate test cases. Xen does not yet have the ability to return precise execution path.
  • Create a small domain or program to accept command from fuzzer, execute test case etc.
  • Use GCC coverage support to give back precise execution path.
  • Massage and feed the input back to fuzzer.


Related open source technologies and repositories:

Outcomes: A system for fuzzing Xen hypercall interface.


Xen on ARM: create multiple guests from device tree

Date of insert: 28/02/2017; Verified: 28/2/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Stefano Stabellini <sstabellini@kernel.org>; Julien Grall <julien.grall@arm.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: High
Skills Needed: Good C and kernel programming skills
Description: Xen on ARM discovers the hardware via device tree: at boot time Xen parses a device tree binary passed by the bootloader. The binary contains information about the platform. It also contains extra information such as command line options for Xen and Dom0.

This project is about extending this extra information to include details about other unprivileged guests. Xen parses this additional info and creates the secondary guests directly at boot. Today, that's not possible and the user has to wait for dom0 to be fully booted and use `xl' to create additional guests.

  • introduce new device tree bindings to create secondary guests at boot
  • parse the new device tree nodes in Xen
  • create secondary VMs directly from Xen at boot
Outcomes: Xen on ARM is able to start multiple guests at boot time using information from device tree.


Share a page in memory from the VM config file

Date of insert: 28/02/2017; Verified: 28/2/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Stefano Stabellini <sstabellini@kernel.org>; Julien Grall <julien.grall@arm.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Average
Skills Needed: Good C and kernel programming skills
Description: Virtual machines use grant table hypercalls to setup a share page for inter-VMs communications. These hypercalls are used by all PV protocols today. However, very simple guests, such as baremetal applications, might not have the infrastructure to handle the grant table. This project is about setting up a shared page for inter-VMs communications directly from the VM config file. So that the guest kernel doesn't have to have grant table support to be able to communicate with other guests.
  • introduce a new VM config option in xl
  • allocate a page in memory and add it to the VM stage2 pagetable at a given address
  • the page should be shareable with other virtual machines
Outcomes: A new VM config file option is introduced to share a page in memory across multiple guests



Mini-OS

Mini-OS is a very small kernel being designed to run as a domU under Xen (either PV or PVH mode). It is primarily being used as the base for stubdoms e.g. to run grub, xenstore or qemu in paravirtualized mode in a dedicated domain. Mini-OS is multi-threaded and contains a basic memory management, some Xen backend drivers and a libc-like interface to applications which are linked directly with the kernel.

Related open source technologies and repositories:

Mini-OS is an excellent starting point for low-level kernel development: It is rather small and debugging it isn't very complicated as it is running as a Xen guest (you can look into it from the host and a complete test/debug/correction cycle may be well under one minute).


Adding Floating Point support to Mini-OS

Date of insert: 28/02/2017; Verified: 28/2/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Juergen Gross <jgross@suse.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org AND minios-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: good C and ASM skills, knowledge of GCC toolchain, good kernel programming skills, good skills in understanding hardware documentation
Description: Currently Mini-OS has no support for using any Floating Point registers. This means no application needing more than one thread and using FP operations can be used with Mini-OS. Adding FP support to Mini-OS will remove that limitation.
  • Create a small multi-thread test application for Mini-OS using FP registers to verify the lack of support.
  • Add FP register saving/restoring when switching threads.
  • Verify that the test application is working now.
Outcomes: Full FP-support in Mini-OS.


Add logging to a dom0 file support to Mini-OS

Date of insert: 28/02/2017; Verified: 28/2/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Juergen Gross <jgross@suse.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org AND minios-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: good C, knowledge of GCC toolchain, good user and kernel programming skills
Description: The Xenstore domain is using Mini-OS as its kernel. The main lack of functionality compared to the Xenstore daemon in dom0 is the missing logging capability in order to find problems in e.g. strange behaving guests.

The easiest way to support such a logging capability would be the usage of a paravirtualized channel. Its frontend would connect to the file interface in Mini-OS, while the backend in dom0 should write the data sent via the channel to a file.

  • Add the needed configuration items to libxl.
  • Add the missing items to Mini-OS.
  • Modify Xenstore domain configuration to make use of the feature.

Related open source technologies and repositories:

Outcomes: Logging support in Mini-OS, especially for Xenstore domain.


Port Mini-OS to ARM64

Date of insert: 02/03/2017; Verified: 02/03/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Juergen Gross <jgross@suse.com>; Wei Liu <wei.liu2@citrix.com>; Julien Grall <julien.grall@arm.com> make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org AND minios-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: High
Skills Needed: Good C and ASM skills, good kernel programming skills, good skills in understanding hardware documentation
Description: Currently Mini-OS is not supported on ARM64. This means unikernel relying on Mini-OS (e.g mirage os) will not boot on Xen ARM.
Outcomes: Full ARM64 support in Mini-OS


Rump Kernel

Icon todo.png To Do:

We discussed a number of options for rump kernel relatedr projects, but need to ensure that these are suitable for applicants and will add them shortly. If you are interested in rump kernel projects, please make a request on xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org.


Mirage OS

Several different projects (follow link)

For Mirage OS, please check out the list of Mirage OS projects where help is needed. If you are interested in one of these projects, please e-mail mirageos-devel@lists.xenproject.org and CC the mentor from the page (the project will contain a link to the mentor's GitHub account, which normally contains an email address and IRC information). You can also ask questions on the #mirage IRC channel and usually find mentors on there.

XAPI

No projects at this stage.

Infra and Community

We also have some infrastructure, tooling and community related projects that run across all the sub-projects. These are slightly different from other projects, in terms of skills and working with the community. Please check extra information below the project.


Xen Code Review Dashboard

Date of insert: 16/02/2016; Verified: 16/02/2016; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Jesus M. Gonzalez-Barahona <jgb@bitergia.com>, Lars Kurth <lars.kurth@xenproject.org> and make sure you cc the xen-devel mailing list; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: SQL, Java/Javascript, HTML5/XML skills, basic software design knowledge (working with the mentors)
Description: The code review process in Xen is being analysed using MetricsGrimoire tools (correlating email based reviews with git commits in Xen Project trees to cover the entire workflow). The data is then stored in an SQL database and visualised using a Kibana based dashboard and some custom reports (e.g. [1]). The main objectives of this project is to extend the existing tools, to
  1. To produce a Perceval-based script to analyse the code review messages in Xen (instead of the original MLStats/CVSAnalY-based scripts). This would include taking the output of our current prototype scripts, and converting them into a more mature script, using information produced by Perceval.
  2. To enrich that information as is needed, based on existing custom reports, to produce the ElasticSearch indexes that we use for the dashboards.
  3. If time, to work with the Xen Project developer community on extending the dashboards themselves (note that this part may not be needed and depends on engagement with the developer communities' needs).
  4. If time, we could consider testing/extending the heuristics developed for Xen Project to work with other Linux-related projects, and maybe Linux itself.

All scripts, widgets and code developed as part of this project will be made available under open source licenses to either GitHub or a code repository hosted on xenbits.xen.org/gitweb.

Related open source technologies and repositories:

Further Information:

  • Small code contribution requirement: Ask the mentors for a small task, based on an initial discussion.
  • IRC: #metrics-grimoire at freenet (mentors are jgbarah and lars_kurth)
  • Mailing List: : metrics-grimoire@lists.libresoft.es and CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org
Outcomes: The final result is to enable the code review dashboard to add additional views, possibly augment the database and improve the heuristics of the existing prototype tools.


Add Centos Virt SIG Xen packages test to the CentOS CI loop

Date of insert: 18/02/2016; Verified: 18/02/2016; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: George Dunlap <george.dunlap@citrix.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Easy
Skills Needed: Basic shell scripting
Description: The CentOS project has a continuous integration (CI) system running Jenkins, which can automatically run a set of tests when specific conditions are met, such as new versions of packages being available on the CentOS community build system (CBS). The CentOS Virtualization SIG ('Special Interest Group') produces Xen packages for CentOS 6 and 7, along with other related packages (such as libvirt). The goal of this project would be to add tests to this system to test the basic functionality of the Xen packages produced by the CentOS Virt SIG, helping to avoid regressions in released software.
Outcomes: An appropriate array of tests for xen (and ideally libvirt) packages running in the CentOS CI loop.


Code Standards Checking using clang-format

Date of insert: 18/02/2016; Verified: 18/02/2016; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Doug Goldstein <cardoe@cardoe.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Easy
Skills Needed: clang-format, shell scripting (to skip files), potentially C++ to extend clang-format
Description: The Xen Project has a coding standard in place but like many projects the standard is only enforced through peer review. As such mistakes slip through and code is imported from other projects which may not follow the same standard. The goal would be to come up with a script that can audit the code base as part of a CI loop for code style inconsistencies and potentially provide corrections. This project would start on one part of the tree and then move on through each component.
Outcomes: A script that can be used to check some (or all of the tree) for code style standards violations.

Related open source technologies and repositories:


Add more FreeBSD testing to osstest

Date of insert: 10/02/2017; Verified: 10/02/2017; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Roger Pau Monné <roger.pau@citrix.com>; Ian Jackson <ian.jackson@eu.citrix.com>; make sure you CC xen-devel@lists.xenproject.org on all communications; tag mails with [GSoC] or [Outreachy] as appropriate
Difficulty: Moderate
Skills Needed: perl and shell (to write tests for osstest), FreeBSD system administration: pxe install, complete setup, build from sources, generate installer media.
Description: The current Xen Project test system only has minimal support for FreeBSD: it's able to test a FreeBSD guest, but it's not able to setup a FreeBSD host or perform a Xen compilation on FreeBSD. This project aims to solve this by providing better integration of FreeBSD into the Xen test system (osstest).

First tasks will involve writing the necessary code so that osstest can setup a FreeBSD host and be able to build new FreeBSD host install media, so that we can start tracking FreeBSD upstream. Next steps will involve compiling Xen on FreeBSD and also generating FreeBSD guest install media, so that guests are also tracking upstream FreeBSD.

An initial attempt at this can be found at https://lists.xenproject.org/archives/html/xen-devel/2015-02/msg00280.html The student can use part of this as a baseline if desired.
Outcomes: Be able to setup a FreeBSD host from osstest tracking upstream FreeBSD sources and perform a Xen compilation on it. Also generate FreeBSD guest images and integrate them into osstest testing.


New Project Ideas

Please add new project ideas here, following

Conventions for Projects and Project Mentors

Rules and Advice for Adding Ideas

  • Be creative
  • Add projects into New Project Ideas or improve projects in Project Ideas that Need Review or more work through review comments.
  • Use the {{GSoC Project}} template to encode ideas on this page. Please read the Template Documentation before you do so.
  • Be specific: what do you want to be implemented; if at all possible provide an indication of size and complexity as described above to make it easier for an applicant to choose ideas
  • If you are willing to mentors those ideas, add your name and email to the idea.
  • Aspiring mentors should introduce themselves on the most appropriate Xen Project mailing list

Peer Review Goals

We strongly recommend and invite project proposers and project mentors to review each others proposals. When you review, please look out for

  • Can an intern get going and started with the information in the project description
  • Are any unstated assumptions in the proposal, is there undefined terminology, etc. in the proposal
  • Can the project completed in 3 months (assume that one month is needed for preparation)
  • Does the project meet Google Summer of Code goals, which are
    • Create and release open source code for the benefit of all
    • Inspire young developers to begin participating in open source development
    • Help open source projects identify and bring in new developers and committers
    • Provide interns the opportunity to do work related to their academic pursuits (think "flip bits, not burgers")
    • Give interns more exposure to real-world software development scenarios (e.g., distributed development, software licensing questions, mailing-list etiquette)

Peer Review Conventions

The {{GSoC Project}} template used to encode project listings, contains some review functionality. Please read the Template Documentation before you add a template, also please use the conventions below to make comments.

|Review=(delete as addressed)
* {{Comment|~~~~:}} Comment 1
* {{Comment|~~~~:}} Comment 2

Choosing Projects

We have a bi-weekly mentor meeting overlooked by our program management team, which are a core team of 2-3 mentors and a program administrator. This group will work with mentors to ensure that project proposals are of good quality and whether mentors are engaging with the program management team and particpants in the weeks before the application period ends.