The beginnings of the hypervisor and Xen

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 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.

What is the Xen Project hypervisor?

The Xen Project community develops an open-source type-1 or bare-metal 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, and automotive. It enables users to increase server utilization, consolidate server farms, reduce complexity, and decrease total cost of ownership.

Xen Project based products

The Xen Project Hypervisor is the basis for many commercial products. The list below is not complete and provides examples of available Xen distributions.

Type Source
Linux Distributions You can get recent Xen binaries as packages from most Linux and Unix distributions, both open source, and commercial.
Commercial Server Virtualisation Products The following commercial and open source products are available: Citrix Hypervisor (formerly XenServer), Huawei UVP, Oracle VM for x86, XCP-ng
Embedded Xen Distributions The following commercial and open source products are available: Crucible Hypervisor, Virtuosity (formerly XZD), Xen Zynq
Xen based Security Products The following commercial and open source products are available: Bitdefender HVI, Magrana Server, OpenXTQubes OS