The open source standard for hardware virtualization

The hypervisor was first described in a SOSP 2003 paper called "Xen and the Art of Virtualization". It was open sourced to allow a global community of developers to contribute and improve the hypervisor.

Xen 1.0 was officially released in 2004, followed shortly by Xen 2.0. At the same time, Ian Pratt and several other technology leaders became involved with the project team.  They founded a company known as XenSource, which was later acquired by Citrix in order to convert the hypervisor from a research tool into a competitive product for enterprise computing. The hypervisor remained an open source solution and has since become the basis of many commercial products.

In 2013, the project went under the auspices of the Linux Foundation.  Accompanying the move, a new trademark "Xen Project" was adopted to differentiate the open source project from the many commercial efforts which used the older "Xen" trademark. 

Today, the hypervisor offers a powerful, efficient and secure feature set for virtualization of x86, x86_64, IA64, ARM and other CPU architectures, and has been used to virtualize a wide range of guest operating systems, including Windows®, Linux®, Solaris® and various versions of the BSD operating systems. It is widely regarded as a strategically compelling alternative to proprietary virtualization platforms and hypervisors for x86 and IA64 platforms.

Just What is the Xen Project Hypervisor?

The Xen Project community develops an open-source type-1 or baremetal hypervisor, which makes it possible to run many instances of an operating system or indeed different operating systems in parallel on a single machine (or host). The project develops the only type-1 hypervisor that is available as open source. The hypervisor is used as the basis for a number of different commercial and open source applications, such as: server virtualization, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), desktop virtualization, security applications, embedded and hardware appliances. It enables users to increase server utilization, consolidate server farms, reduce complexity, and decrease total cost of ownership.

Besides the hypervisor, the community currently develops several other technologies:

More of the history of our community and our project can be read on the history page.