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Re: [Xen-users] Hypervisor and Linux

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Subject: Re: [Xen-users] Hypervisor and Linux
From: Mark Williamson <mark.williamson@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 00:34:45 +0100
Cc: Matthew Hunter <matthew@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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> I assume, perhaps falsely, that there would be a significant
> performance loss for those specific areas by running those
> tasks on a virtualized system.

You don't really want to run opengl or multimedia in a guest.

That said you could take a look at VMGL, which allows you to forward GL 
operations from a remote virtual machine so that they can be accelerated 
locally: http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~andreslc/xen-gl/

> >From what I understand of the Xen installation directions on
> xensource.com, you install the xen hypervisor like you would an
> operating system, and effectively ALL oses running on the machine
> are virtual.

That's how the XenEnterprise family of products work, and those are 
XenSource's products.  Open source Xen is typically dropped onto an existing 
Linux install.

> If the "xen host" can be the main workstation with access to the
> full power of the system, I will cheerfully virtualize a few
> older servers.  But if installing the xen hypervisor on the
> system means I won't get the benefits of (for example)
> accelerated opengl displays, that's a deal killer.
> Is it possible to run the xen hypervisor within a normal Linux
> distribution (preferably Debian)?

That should work.

The only slight caveat is that depending on your GPU manufacturer, it can be a 
bit of a pain getting the binary drivers to work on a Xen-enabled kernel.  
Folks *have* managed to do it, though the manufacturer will probably not 
support such a configuration.

If you have a recent CPU that has hardware virtualisation support, there's 
always the possibility of using KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) which is in 
recent Linux kernel releases.  And of course, there's Parallels and VMware 
too, who both make fine desktop virtualisation solutions.

I reckon there's something in there that'll do what you want. anyhow.  If you 
go the Xen route you may find information in the mailing list archives (or in 
the current userbase) which is able to help you sort out problems you might 
run into.   This list is the appropriate place to ask such questions; the 
forums on the XenSource site are oriented towards the commercial variants of 


Dave: Just a question. What use is a unicyle with no seat?  And no pedals!
Mark: To answer a question with a question: What use is a skateboard?
Dave: Skateboards have wheels.
Mark: My wheel has a wheel!

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