Getting Started

Who Uses the Xen Project Code?

Our hypervisor has a user base in the millions, that include cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Hosting, and many others. You may also want to check out the Directory for vendors, products, projects, services and research related to the Xen Project.

How Do I Get the Xen Project Software?

Our hypervisor is available as source distribution from the project website. However, you can get recent binaries as packages from most Linux and Unix distributions, both open source and commercial. Some Linux distributions deliver our software as a LiveCD, that you can use to easily test the project's capabilities. The project also includes XAPI, which delivers cloud functionality for those who want it.

To see how to best install and use our software on your platform of choice, check our Wiki entry for detailed information.

Where Do I Find Information on Using Xen Project Software?

You can find more information about using the software from the links below:


The Nitty Gritty: Basic Steps to Install the Software

Selecting the Distribution to Manage Your Installation

The hypervisor does not actually run within another operating system.  However, you need another operating system to provide the drivers and management capabilities to the installation.  In Xen Project parliance, this is called the domain 0 operating system.

The selection of a domain 0 operating system is largely one of personal preference and/or existing skillset. If you are already familiar with a particular distribution, it is likely to be the best choice for you, assuming that the distribution has support for the hypervisor. Debian, Ubuntu, OpenSuSE, SLES, Oracle VM, Fedora, and NetBSD are all known to have good support for the hypervisor in their current releases. CentOS reintroduced Xen Project software to its distribution in 2013.  You can find articles on how to install the hypervisor on various distributions in Category:Host Install. In addition Host OS Install Considerations contains advice on things to consider while installing your domain 0 operating system.

Do I Need to Install Xen Project Software From the Source?

In most cases. NO.  If you are planning to develop code as part of the Xen Project team or you require a bleeding edge feature which is not yet available in the distributions then you may find that you need to build from source.  Compiling the Xen Project Software From Source describes how to go about doing this.  But, for the overwhelming number of users, you will simply install packages supplied by the distribution you selected.

Someone Said I Need a Special Kernel?

The hypervisor no longer requires a particular kernel needed for domain 0 usage. This is because hypervisor support in distributions and in mainline kernels is now more than sufficient for most use cases.

As with the installation of the hypervisor itself, the best option is generally to use your distribution kernel.  As of Linux v3.0 everything which is needed for a functional domain 0 is included in the mainline Linux tree and this has led to renewed support for the hypervisor by distributions. See here for a list of distributions which have good hypervisor support.

Dom0 Kernels for the Xen Project lists the various domain 0 kernels which are available. For a comparison of the features of various kernels you can see the Kernel Feature Matrix.

Selecting a Toolstack

There are several toolstacks which can be used with the project. Choice of Toolstacks discusses the features of the various toolstacks and the various use cases where they may be appropriate.

Host Configuration

Once you have installed the hypervisor and selected your toolstack some further host configuration may be required. Category:Host Configuration has information on this. There are also some Live CDs, DVDs, etc. available to facilitate configuration.

Installing a Guest

Category:Guest Install contains guides on how to install a variety of guests. Guest VM Images provides pointers to various preinstalled guest images.

Provisioning tools for Xen Project: xen-tools, virt-install, etc.

Xen-tools is a straight-forward VM provisioning tool. For more information see:

On versions of the hypervisor which support libvirt, you can use virt-install to provision VMs.

Want more information? Check out the Beginner's Guide.

Specialist Topics

Xen Project and Security

Xen Project and Performance