[Tfug] virtualization

Robert Hunter hunter at tfug.org
Thu Jun 5 19:47:05 MST 2008

Hash: SHA1

After a month or so of fooling around with xen, I thought I'd share
some experiences, and ask others here about their's.

I have successfully used xen on a dual-quad server at work, using
Debian as both host and guest OSes.  It is quite easy to setup,
although the networking is a bit tricky.  Not only do you need a
working knowledge of iptables, but depending on your requirements, you
may also need to understand how Linux bridging (ebtables) works, as
well.  There is good information at the xen networking wiki, and also
the ebtables project has a detailed document with nice diagrams on
Linux bridging and how it interacts with Linux routing.  My networking
requirement consists of domUs sharing one or more network interfaces,
where certain ports are forwarded to specific domUs.  In this case,
bridging is not necessary, and I use a NAT configuration.  However, I
may decide someday to provide routing services on a domU itself, in
which case bridging will come back into the picture.  This ability to
create a virtual network on a single box with multiple guest OSes is a
godsend for both application hosting, as well as software development
purposes.  The only sticking point is that you need multiple
processors and boatloads of memory if you want things to run smoothly.

The story changes somewhat as I continued testing xen on my laptop.
My T61 comes with a dual core processor, and enough memory to run at
few domUs.  My plan was to run a WinXP guest OS so that I could use
a few apps that won't run under wine.  After a bit of work, I managed
to get an XP install running smoothly, however, I had to disable
Intel's 965M X driver, because it consistently crashed my machine.
Furthermore, I was unable to get network working.  I spent the better
part of a day googling and trying various things, to no avail.  I
would interested in any stories of success of running an XP domU.  If
and when I figure this out, I'll report back.  In the meantime, I'm
running virtualbox, and my Windows-only interactive Korean
instruction software (which uses both audio playback and recording) works
like a champ.  The one unfortunate thing is that virtualbox is very
CPU intensive, but at least I can "pause" the guest when I'm not using

Any stories, anecdotes, and advice about virtualization experiences
would be most welcome.

- --Rob

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