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Installing Xen on Ubuntu 9.10

January 16th, 2010

Recently I switched to Ubuntu as the primary operating system on my desktop machine. As part of the switch, I wanted to install Xen to virtualize some additional operating systems. Xen provides very good performance when virtualizing Linux distributions due to paravirtualization. The latest versions can also virtualize certain unmodified guest operating systems on processors that support virtualization.

In a Xen setup, the Xen hypervisor runs directly on the hardware (bare-metal). The first guest operating system (dom0) runs “on top” of Xen and has full access to the underlying hardware. Additional guests (domU) also run on top of the Xen hypervisor, but with limited access to the underlying hardware.

Converting an existing Ubuntu install to a Xen dom0 install requires installing the Xen hypervisor. In previous versions of Ubuntu this could easily be done using apt. Unfortunately no packages exist for Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala). In this post I’ll describe the steps I took to install Xen from source on Karmic. If you’d rather install via binary packages you’ll need to find a third-party repository.

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