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[Xen-users] Trying to get a good grasp on what to expect from Xen

  • To: xen-users@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • From: Manny T <mtran003@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2010 16:07:05 -0400
  • Delivery-date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 10:19:10 -0800
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  • List-id: Xen user discussion <xen-users.lists.xensource.com>

I've been doing researching for about two weeks now for a server virtualization solution for my small business and am at a point where there is some key information I need to move forward.

In summary, I'd like to deploy a Virtual Server so that I may run guest Linux machines for mostly web hosting, file servers, databases (maybe SMTP at a later time).  I will be buying new hardware to build my own rack-mount unit so I am not constrained by processor, memory, etc as those have not been acquired yet.  However, for the record, I'm looking perhaps to go with the Intel Quad Core Xeon with at least 8 GB of RAM to start.

My problem at this point is this:  There are some fundamental questions I have about Open Source Xen Hypervisor that I have not been able to find definitive answers answers to and I hope someone out there may provide some insight:

My understanding is that Xen Hyervisor is a "bare metal" solution that will offer optimal performance, in most cases, over other solutions that run inside a host OS -- if so ...

1.  With Hyervisor, can I choose between Paravirtualization or Hardware Virtual Machine (HVM) or will I be forced down a particular path because of the nature of Hypervisor?

2.  I've read that Paravirtualization usually requires some modifications to the guest OS kernal.  With the latest version of Xen and Linux available (Suse 11.2 or 11.3) is this still the case?  I would rather not have to modify the kernal or anything else in the hopes of maintaining portability should I have to move a guest OS at a later time.

3.  I plan to purchase a processor that supports Hardware Virtualization, will this allow we to use HVM?

4.  Are there substantial performance differences with Paravirtualization vs HVM?  Which is best in the long run for performance, stability and portability?

5.  In the interest of getting the best performance possible, is it possible or advisable to install and run Hypervisor from a local RAID 5 storage device?  This RAID 5 disk would be where I also plan to store my guest OS files.

6.  Is it possible or advisable to run the domain0 OS from a RAID 5 storage device?  What about guest OSes?

7.  I also see that with Suse 11.x, there is an option in YAST to install Xen.  Will this install Xen Hypervisor with the current Linux OS as domain0?  What exactly is going on here?

This is my first virtual solution deployment and so I'm still testing the waters here.  I hope some of the answers can help me decide on a solution and approach that I can build and grow with.


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