Update: Please consider the context of the article-it was written in April 2011! The post refers to OpenSuSE 11.x, my current system uses OpenSusE 12.3 and the below problems of virt-manager appear to be solved. virt-manager however will perform similar steps as these under the covers.
Despite all recent progress in other virtualisation technologies I am staying faithful to Xen. The reason is simple: it works for me. Paravirtualised domUs are the fastest way to run virtual machines on hardware that doesn’t support virtualisation in the processor.
I read about cgroups yesterday, a feature that’s appeared in kernel 2.6.38 and apparently was back-ported into RedHat 6. Unfortunately I can’t get hold of a copy, so I decided to use Oracle’s clone instead. I wanted to install the new domU on my existing lab environment which is a 24G RAM core i7 920 system with 1.5TB of storage. The only limitation I can see is the low number of cores, I wish I could rent an Opteron 6100 series system instead (for the same price).
I promised in the introduction to introduce my lab environment in the first part of the series. So here we go…
Similar to the Fedora project, SuSE (now Novell) have come up with a community distribution some time ago which can be freely downloaded from the Internet. All these community editions give the users a glimpse at the new and upcoming Enterprise distribution, such as RHEL or SLES.
I have chosen the OpenSuSE 12.2 distribution for the host operating system. It has been updated to xen 3.4.1, kernel 18.104.22.168 and libvirt 0.7.2. These packages provide a stable execution environment of the virtual machines we are going to build. Alternative xen-based solutions have not been considered. During initial testing I found that Oracle VM 2.1.x virtual machines could not mount iSCSI targets without kernel-panicking and crashing. Citrix’s xenserver is too commercial, and the community edition is lacking needed features, and finally Virtual Iron had already been purchased by Oracle.
All kernel 2.6.18-x based distributions such as Red Hat 5.x and clones were discarded for lack of features and their age. After all, 2.6.18 has been introduced three years ago and although features were back-ported to it, xen support is way behind what I needed. The final argument in favour of OpenSuSE was the fact that SuSE provide a xen-capable 2.6.31 kernel out of the box. Although it is perfectly possibly to build one’s own xen-kernel, this is an advanced topic and not covered here. OpenSuSE also makes configuring the networking bridges very straight forward by a good integration into yast, the distributions setup and configuration tool. Continue reading
I recently upgraded my laptop’s opensuse 11.1 installation to 11.2, mainly because it has updated xen to version 3.4 which makes it one of the most modern distributions with xen support available. I did some research first about which linux distribution would best suit my needs. When I came across a post which said that Fedora 12 had no (official) kernel support for use as dom0 the decision was made. I know I could have used a debian clone (ubuntu 9.10 seemed quite attractive), but for personal reasons I preferred a RPM based system. I was very pleasently surprised that the Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics chipset finally found hardware acceleration, making it so much more enjoyable to browse the web.