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blanket drivers to run Xen on clouds (e.g. Amazon EC2)
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blanket drivers to run Xen on clouds (e.g. Amazon EC2)

The Xen-Blanket aims to give cloud users hypervisor-level control on public or private clouds by running a second-layer (Xen) hypervisor. This code release contains patches to Xen and Linux drivers to allow a second-layer guest to interact with underlying paravirtualized device interfaces essential for performance and deployability.

We are just beginning to explore the potential applications enabled by the Xen-Blanket. The Xen-Blanket delivers an unprecedented level of control to users of public clouds so that they can implement or run innovative or essential hypervisor-level functionality. Furthermore, we envision that the traditionally difficult or impossible task of deploying applications that span multiple clouds will become easy. With the Xen-Blanket, a user can homogenize various clouds by running Xen as a second layer hypervisor. Only one set of VM image formats and management tools will be needed across a diverse set of clouds. To follow our ongoing research or to read research papers on the subject, check out the research project Webpage at

Unlike emerging nested virtualization projects (e.g. the Turtles Project) that require modifications to the underlying hypervisor, our goal is immediate user-centric deployability. We do not want to wait for cloud providers to adopt these mechanisms, and so we rely on paravirtualization for the second layer hypervisor. So far, we have implemented blanket drivers to run Xen on top of an unmodified Xen (as an HVM guest) or KVM. Blanket drivers are necessary to interact with paravirtualized device interfaces, which are commonly used in clouds (e.g. Amazon's HVM Linux instances use PV-on-HVM device drivers). As we extend the Xen-Blanket to run on more clouds, we intend to develop more blanket drivers.

With this code, you can run Xen inside an EC2 instance today! To get started, check out the detailed instructions on how to install Xen within an EC2 instance.

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