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University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
3 November 2004

What is Xen?

Xen is a Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) originally developed by the
Systems Research Group of the University of Cambridge Computer
Laboratory, as part of the UK-EPSRC funded XenoServers project.
Xen is freely-distributable Open Source software, released under the

The 2.0 release offers excellent performance, hardware support and
enterprise-grade features such as live migration. Linux 2.6, 2.4 and
NetBSD 2.0 are already available for Xen, with more operating system
ports on the way.

This file contains some quick-start instructions to install Xen on
your system. For full documentation, see the Xen User Manual. If this
is a pre-built release then you can find the manual at:
If you have a source release, then 'make -C docs' will build the
manual at docs/pdf/user.pdf.

Quick-Start Guide - Pre-Built Binary Release

[NB. Unless noted otherwise, all the following steps should be
performed with root privileges.]

1. Install the binary distribution onto your filesystem:

    # sh ./

   Amongst other things, this will install Xen and XenLinux kernel
   files in /boot, kernel modules and Python packages in /lib, and
   various control tools in standard 'bin' directories.

2. Configure your bootloader to boot Xen and an initial Linux virtual
   machine. Note that Xen currently only works with GRUB: less common
   alternatives such as LILO are *not* supported. You can most likely
   find your GRUB menu file at /boot/grub/menu.lst: edit this file to
   include an entry like the following:

    # title Xen 2.0 / XenLinux 2.6
    #   kernel /boot/xen-2.0.gz dom0_mem=<mem-kb> console=vga
    #   module /boot/vmlinuz-2.6-xen0 root=<root-dev> ro console=tty0

   For <mem-kb> you should specify the amount of memory, in kilobytes,
   to allocate for use by your initial XenLinux virtual machine. Note
   that Xen itself reserves about 32MB memory for internal use, which
   is not available for allocation to virtual machines.
   For <root-dev>, specify your usual root partition (e.g., /dev/hda1).

3. Reboot your system and select the "Xen 2.0 / XenLinux 2.6" menu
   option. After booting Xen, XenLinux will start and your
   initialisation scripts should execute in the usual way.

Quick-Start Guide - Source Release

First, there are a number of prerequisites for building a Xen source
release. Make sure you have all the following installed, either by
visiting the project webpage or installing a pre-built package
provided by your Linux distributor:
    * GCC (preferably v3.2.x or v3.3.x; older versions are unsupported) 
    * GNU Make
    * GNU Binutils
    * Development install of libcurl (e.g., libcurl-dev)
    * Development install of zlib (e.g., zlib-dev)
    * Development install of Python v2.2 or later (e.g., python-dev)

[NB. Unless noted otherwise, all the following steps should be
performed with root privileges.]

1. Download and untar the source tarball file. This will be a
   file named xen-unstable-src.tgz, or xen-$version-src.tgz.
   You can also pull the current version from the SCMS
   that is being used (Bitkeeper, scheduled to change shortly).

    # tar xzf xen-unstable-src.tgz

   Assuming you are using the unstable tree, this will
   untar into xen-unstable. The rest of the instructions
   use the unstable tree as an example, substitute the
   version for unstable.

2. cd to xen-unstable (or whatever you sensibly rename it to).
   The Linux (2.4 and 2.6), netbsd and freebsd kernel source
   trees are in the $os-$version-xen-sparse directories.

On Linux:

3. For the very first build, or if you want to destroy existing
   .configs and build trees, perform the following steps:

    # make world
    # make install

   This will create the directories linux-2.6.11-dom0/ and
   linux-2.6.11-domU/ after first cleaning everything. It will
   create and install into the dist/ directory which is the
   default install location. It will build the xen binary
   (xen.gz), the boot images for dom0 and an unpriviledged
   guest kernel (vmlinuz-2.6.11-xen0 and vmlinuz-2.6.11-xenU
   respectively), the tools and the documentation.

4. To rebuild an existing tree without modifying the config:
    # make dist

   This will build and install xen, kernels, tools, and
   docs into the local dist/ directory.

5. To rebuild a kernel with a modified config:

    # cd linux-2.6.11-xen0         # or linux-2.6.11-xenU
    # make ARCH=xen menuconfig     # or xconfig
    # cd ..
    # make dist
    # make install

   You can copy your own config into linux-2.6.11-xen0 first.
   Alternatively, you can also copy your config file to
   dist/install/boot/config-$version-xen0/U.  This is picked up
   when a make dist is done. Include the ARCH=xen directive for
   all make commands when building the kernels.

6. To see a full list of targets and a brief description, type:
    # make help

7. Edit your grub.conf file as described above to have an
   appropriate entry for your new kernel.
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