Linux PVH

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PVH and Linux

The only things needed to make this work as PVH are:

  • Get the latest version of Xen and compile/install it. See [1]for details or [2]
  • Get the latest version of Linux, see [3] for details. The steps are:
cd $HOME
git clone git://
cd linux
  • Compile with CONFIG_XEN_PVH=y:
    • Based on your current distro.
 cp /boot/config-`uname -r `$HOME/linux/.config
 make menuconfig

Where one will select Processor type and features ---> Linux guest support --->Support for running as a PVH guest (NEW)

    • Or from scratch:
make localmodconfig

You should see: "Support for running as a PVH guest (XEN_PVH) [N/y] (NEW)" In case you missed it:

make menuconfig

Processor type and features ---> Linux guest support ---> Xen guest support (selecting that will now show you): Support for running as a PVH guest (NEW)

    • If you prefer to edit .config, these should be enabled:

You will also have to enable the block, network drivers, console, etc which are in different submenus.

  • Install it. Usually doing:
make modules_install && install

is suffice. It should generate the initramfs.cpio.gz and the kernel and stash them in /boot directory.

  • Launch it with pvh=1 in your guest config (for example):
extra="console=hvc0 debug kgdboc=hvc0 nokgdbroundup initcall_debug debug"
vif = [ 'mac=00:0F:4B:00:00:68' ]
vfb = [ 'vnc=1, vnclisten=,vncunused=1']

using 'xl'. Xend 'xm' does not have PVH support.

It will bootup as a normal PV guest, but 'xen-detect' will report it as an HVM guest.

Items that have not been tested extensively or at all:

  • Migration (xl save && xl restore for example).
  • 32-bit guests (won't even present you with a CONFIG_XEN_PVH option)
  • PCI passthrough
  • Running it in dom0 mode (as the patches for that are not yet in Xen upstream). If you want to try that, you can merge/pull Mukesh's branch:
cd $HOME/xen
git pull git:// dom0pvh-v7

And use on the Xen command line the dom0pvh=1 bootup parameter. Remember to recompile and install the new version of Xen. The patches in Linux do not contain the necessary code to setup guests.

  • Memory ballooning
  • Multiple VBDs, NICs, etc.

Things that are broken:

  • CPUID filtering. There are no filtering done at all which means that certain cpuid flags are exposed to the guest. The x2apic will cause a crash if the NMI handler is invoked. The APERF will cause inferior scheduling decisions.
  • Does not work with AMD hardware.
  • Does not work with 32-bit guests.

If you encounter errors, please email with the following (please note that the guest config has on_reboot="preserve", on_crash="preserve" - which you should have in your guest config to contain the memory of the guest):

  • xl dmesg
  • xl list
  • xenctx -s $HOME/linux/ -f -a -C <domain id>

(xenctx is sometimes found in /usr/lib/xen/bin/xenctx)

  • The console output from the guest
  • Anything else you can think off.


Stash away your vmlinux file (it is too big to send via email) - as we might need it later on.

That is it!

Thank you!