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[Xen-devel] [Xen-users] XCP - xenserver tools required?

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Subject: [Xen-devel] [Xen-users] XCP - xenserver tools required?
From: brooks@xxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 21:06:21 -0700 (PDT)
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I posted this to xen-users yesterday without much response so I thought I'd try xen-devel.

One of the issues I've had using XenServer in a multitenant environment is the requirement for the VMs to have xentools installed as it causes significant issues when upgrading the VM OS or the pool from one version of XenServer (XCP) to another. Having to touch hundreds VMs (by hand) after an upgrade just doesn't scale nor is delegating the task to VM owners an option. Unfortunately a customer, even if they could be educated to do so, can't easily install or update the tools unless the xs-tools iso is in the virtual DVD drive, and to load it into the DVD drive you need access to XenCenter or to the CLI (vm-cd-add, vm-cd-eject, vm-cd-insert, vm-cd-list, vm-cd-remove). On the flip side, even if we did cental admin for all the VMs (what a nightmare) we wouldn't necessarily have root access to the VM preventing us from installing the new tools.

Not only does this create a management issue it also requires a fair amount of knowledge to do the right thing based on the VM. I've seen situations where the kernel on the VM has been updated yet install.sh wants to downgrade the kernel. For example, I have a Debian Etch VM that is running an updated kernel:

Yet, running install.sh on that VM without the -k option causes an older kernel to be installed:

Not only that but the tools that get installed are for XCP 1.0.


It's doing the correct thing by installing 1.0.0-647 (XCP 1.x), but is certainly doesn't look correct (expecially in XenCenter) unless you do some digging. XCP really needs it's own version of XenCenter, or a better alternative. Speaking of an alternative I've been looking at the XenServer for OpenStack implementation:


and the last step in the process is to install XenTools using XenCenter, OpenXenManager or the CLI. Having to install and manage XenTools may be fine for private clouds where all the VMs are managed by one or more engineers but it just doesn't work for public clouds.

The XenServer 5.6fp1 manual states:


XenServer Tools must be installed for each Virtual Machine (Windows and Linux) in order for the VM to have a fully supported configuration, and to be able to use the XenServer management tools (the xe CLI or XenCenter). A Windows VM will function without them, but performance will be significantly hampered unless the tools are installed.

Without the tools being installed, you cannot:

       - Cleanly shut down a VM
       - Cleanly reboot a VM
       - Suspend a VM
       - Migrate a running VM (aka XenMotion)
       - Use the checkpoint and roll back feature
       - Change the vCPUs Live


Given the above it would seem that it's important to have windows pv drivers, some older CentOS kernels, and the xe-guest-utilities installed in an XCP environment. But how do we manage it? The cloud.com guys (which is based on the free version of XenServer) seem to ignore the problem. What do you do?

All ideas, comments, and opinons are welcome.

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