[SATLUG] Xen Server

David Kowis dkowis at shlrm.org
Tue Sep 15 20:14:04 CDT 2009


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redpill wrote:
> I have been thinking about decreasing the number of boxes running in my
> house and have begun to do the research on setting up a xen server.
> Currently I am running Ubuntu server 9.04 but my research indicates that
> this is not the best distro for Xen as there is no support for dom0.  I
> looked into Fedora but same problem.  Debian might be an option but my
> experience with this distro is limited. Does anyone out there have any
> experience with Xen? If so, what host distro do you recommend?
> 
> I would like on running the following on the server:
> pfsense - router and wifi access point
> Ubuntu Lamp - wordpress and apache server
> Ubuntu LTSP - thin clienting 2 computers for the kids
> Mythbuntu - would be nice if I could do this but not sure if the TV
> cards will be an issue

I have done part of this at home, and I feel that I know Xen pretty
well. I use a linux from source distro (Source Mage) so I set the box up
by hand every time. I haven't used Citrix' Xen Server thing, but I hear
it's pretty good (uses an older kernel 2.6.18 from what I understand,
because that's the "official" xen version.)

I chose to physically separate a router, since I'll have OpenWRT running
on a linksys toy. However, whilst I don't know pfsense, I use shorewall,
and people have already done things like I believe you want to do:
http://www.shorewall.net/Xen.html

I have never done PCI passthrough on the thing, but I have thought about
that as well. USB passthrough is only available on HVM driven Guests.
Those Guests seem to perform slower than the linux Guests (which require
a modified kernel, so technically it could be a BSD guest, or any other
OS which can run a Xen aware kernel.) the HVM driven guests require the
Hardware Virtualization support to be in your CPU and enabled, just FYI.

The LAMP and thin client machines would be absolutely trivial to
implement, and running under the paravirtualized Guests would be plenty
fast enough.

Oh I would use lvm backed disks, not file backed, as those tend to
perform better than the file backed ones. Disk I/O felt much slower on
the HVM guests than it did in the paravirtualized guests.

I've never tried PCI pass through... I've got one "extra" xen machine at
the moment (doesn't support the HVM stuff though) so maybe I'll try that.

My website and my home network are now all on this virtualized setup. I
haven't noticed any performance hits at all. If anything, it's a bit
faster than I had before. I don't think I'll notice a difference in my
power bill (even though I'm running something that uses far less power
than before) because it's A/C that makes the biggest dent and it just
got significantly cooler. However, it is a lot quieter, and cooler in
the computer room since I'm running less machines, even though I'm
running actually MORE machines thanks to the virtualization :)

Anyways, I know xen pretty well and can try to answer the questions
posted here.

Also, look at OpenVZ, it's not as virtualized (well, I guess it's a
different kind of virtualization), but if you can set up a separate
firewall box, might be easier to deal with regarding the MythTV stuff.

- --
David Kowis
 SourceMage GNU/Linux -- www.sourcemage.org
 Liberty or Death! -- www.campaignforliberty.com

 Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying
 to find easier ways to do something. - Robert Heinlein

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