Getting Started

From Xen


The aim of this document is to guide a new user through the decisions needed in order to get a Xen Project system up and running and to provide a jumping off point for more specific documentation to meet their aims. Also see Xen Project Software Overview.

Getting Xen Project Software

The recommended way for most people to get the Xen Project hypervisor is to install via your distribution wherever possible. There are many distributions which have good support for the Xen Project hypervisor included right out of the box. This option is generally much simpler than the alternatives since many of the common pitfalls are eliminated by consuming existing tested packages. You will also benefit from being able to ask the distribution community for help which will often result in responses which are more specific to the distribution in question.

Selecting Domain 0 Operating System Distribution

The selection of a domain 0 operating system is largely one of personal preference and/or existing skillset. If you are already familiar with a particular distribution in a non-Xen Project context then this is likely to be the best choice for you, assuming that the distribution has support for Xen Project.

Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, SLES, XenServer, Oracle VM, Fedora, and NetBSD are all known to have good support for the Xen Project hypervisor in their current releases. CentOS can be used as well, but it requires an extra bit of software. Dom0_Kernels_for_Xen provides a list of known good Domain 0 operating systems.

You can find articles on how to install the Xen Project software on various distributions in Category:Host Install. In addition Host OS Install Considerations contains advice on things to consider while installing your domain 0 operating system.

Installing Xen Project From Source

If you are planning to develop against the Xen Project software or you require a bleeding edge feature which is not yet available in the distributions then you may find that you need to build from source.

Compiling Xen From Source and Compiling Xen From Source on NetBSD describes how to go about doing this.

Selecting a Domain 0 Kernel

The Xen Project software no longer ships with a specially modified kernel which is needed for domain 0 usage (nor domain U for that matter). This is because Xen Project support in distributions and in mainline kernels is now more than sufficient for most use cases.

NOTE: The main exception to this is CentOS (V6 and following), which had its Xen Project support removed as a result of work by its upstream provider. The Xen4CentOS effort provides a Long-Term Support kernel from which has the required Xen Project support.

As with the installation of the hypervisor itself, the best option is generally to use your distribution kernel.

As of Linux v3.0 everything which is needed for a functional domain 0 is included in the mainline Linux tree and this has led to renewed support for Xen Project domain 0 by distributions. See above for a list of distributions which have good support for the Xen Project hypervisor.

Dom0 Kernels for Xen lists the various domain 0 kernels which are available. For a comparison of the features of various kernels you can see Xen Kernel Feature Matrix.

Selecting Toolstack

There are several toolstacks which can be used with the Xen Project hypervisor. Choice of Toolstacks discusses the features of the various toolstacks and the various use cases where they may be appropriate.

Host Configuration

Once you have installed the hypervisor and selected your toolstack some further host configuration may be required. Category:Host Configuration has information on this. There are also some Live CDs, DVDs, etc. available which contain the Xen Project hypervisor.

Installing a Guest

Category:Guest Install contains guides on how to install a variety of guests. Guest VM Images provides pointers to various preinstalled guest images.

Provisioning tools for Xen Project: xen-tools, virt-install, etc.

Xen-tools is a straight-forward VM provisioning tool. For more information see:

On the versions of Xen Project software which support libvirt, you can use virt-install to provision the hypervisor and the VMs.


Category:Networking contains guides on how to set up networking for the hypervisor.

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