How To

How to Install, Configure, and Run Xen Hypervisor on Debian or Ubuntu

Xen is a highly regarded, open-source type-1 or bare-metal hypervisor. This means that it runs directly on the host’s hardware to control the execution of multiple guest operating systems. In this guide, we will walk through how to install, configure, and run the Xen hypervisor on Debian and Ubuntu systems.


Before you start, ensure your system meets these requirements:

1. A 64-bit capable machine with Intel VT or AMD-V technology, which is essential for hardware-assisted virtualization.
2. At least 2GB of RAM, though 4GB or more is recommended.
3. A Debian or Ubuntu-based system.
4. Root or sudo privileges.

## Step 1: Installing Xen Hypervisor

First, update the system package repository:

sudo apt-get update & sudo apt-get upgrade

Then, install the Xen Hypervisor and necessary tools:

sudo apt-get install xen-hypervisor-amd64 xen-tools

Xen should now be installed on your system.

Step 2: Configuring the Boot Loader

In order for the system to boot the Xen Hypervisor, it’s necessary to modify the GRUB bootloader. Edit the GRUB configuration file by running:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Update the following lines in the file:

GRUB_DEFAULT="Xen 4.13-amd64"

Here, `GRUB_DEFAULT=”Xen 4.13-amd64″` tells GRUB to boot Xen by default and the `GRUB_CMDLINE_XEN_DEFAULT=”dom0_mem=1024M,max:1024M”` line allocates 1GB of memory to the Dom0. The exact version of Xen may vary based on the version installed on your system.

Update GRUB with these changes by running:

sudo update-grub

Next, reboot your system:

sudo reboot

After rebooting, verify the Xen hypervisor installation by running:

sudo xl list

Step 3: Creating a Guest VM (DomU)

With the hypervisor installed and running, we can now create a guest virtual machine. We’ll start by creating a configuration file for the VM. You may want to create a dedicated directory for your Xen configuration files:

sudo mkdir /etc/xen/configs
sudo nano /etc/xen/configs/my_vm.cfg

Here’s an example configuration:

name = "my_vm"
vcpus = 1
memory = 512
disk = ['phy:/dev/vg0/my_vm,xvda,w']
vif = [' ']
on_poweroff = 'destroy'
on_reboot = 'restart'
on_crash = 'restart'

Adjust parameters as needed for your specific requirements. This configuration sets up a VM with 1 CPU, 512MB of memory, and a disk located at `/dev/vg0/my_vm`.

Finally, create the VM:

sudo xl create /etc/xen/configs/my_vm.cfg

To see a list of running VMs, use the `xl list` command:

sudo xl list

To manage the state of your VMs, use the `xl` command with the pause, unpause, shutdown, or reboot option:

sudo xl pause my_vm
sudo xl unpause my_vm
sudo xl shutdown my_vm
sudo xl reboot my_vm

Congratulations, you have installed and configured Xen hypervisor on your Debian or Ubuntu system and created a new VM. Xen is a powerful tool for virtualization and can be customized to suit a wide range of needs. Remember to refer to the Xen documentation for more advanced configuration options and management instructions.