Microsoft and XenSource announce virtualization interoperability

Microsoft and XenSource announce virtualization interoperability

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So we have just announced that we will be working with Xen guys to get Xen-enabled Linux running well on top of Windows virtualization.  This is all good news - and I personally am looking forward to seeing the results of this work.

We already support Linux on top of Virtual Server today, and have demonstrated Linux running on top of Windows virtualization - and this announcement really confirms that we have a commitment to interoperability and delivering viable solutions for people who want to virtualize heterogeneous environments (for some reason people have trouble believing us when we say this :)).

The official announcement is here:

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will try to answer what I can.


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  • Ben, Is there any way to get rid of the above spam?
  • Hi DosFreak -

    None of that is spam - it is trackbacks from people linking to this post.

  • I think the obvious question is will Microsoft ever be willing to 'Xen-enable' Windows.  Apparently this has been done for WinXP as an academic exercise back in the early, research days of Xen (not released to the public).

    MS is already doing something similar for the Windows Hypervisor (I think you call the hypervisor-aware code 'enlightenments').  Making these enlightenments also work for Xen might be helpful.
  • Hi Ben,

    I've given this a fair bit of thought and have come to the following guess of how this all will work.  I suspect that XenSource will build what's essentially a glorified boot loader which will load a XenoLinux kernel and setup a small "minixen" at the 64mb hole.  This minixen would then translate xen hypercalls into Windows Hypervisor hypercalls.

    This would only require MS to provide documentation to the hypercalls (and depending on how closely ya'll are working together, perhaps making certain hypercalls more Xen friendly).

    However, as you may know, the Xen hypercall ABI is not going to be the "blessed" ABI for Linux.  If the 3.0 ABI is supported at all in the upstream kernel, it will be through a more generic virtualization API.  This will allow VMware, for instance, to also support paravirtual Linux without Xen and VMware having to agree on a single ABI.

    Does this announcement mean that MS will not be documenting their ABI so that the Windows Hypervisor can be directly supported within Linux?  In my opinion, it is to MS' advantage to have first-class support in Linux (verses through a Xen translation layer) since there may come a time when you need a something greater than what the Xen ABI provides.
  • MikeB -

    We have not announced any plans to do this at this stage.

    Anothony -

    Yes - we do intend to fully document our hypercall API, and we have already disclosed early drafts of our API to key partners for feedback.

  • Thanks for the quick response Ben!
  • I've just started to use virtual PC2004 (which I bought what this about FREE?).
    THe plan was to run xp pro inside my xppro
    which works fine went in like silk.
    I also wanted to 'play' with Linux.
    I've tried a number of distros without success except for an elderly mandrake 7.1.
    what is it thats upsetting somebody?
  • Hi Ben,

    Thought I should ask a quick follow-up just to make sure I fully understand re: hypercall documentation.

    Do you intend on documenting the full API that Vista uses (as opposed to say a subset that a guest would need to run)?  Does this include virtual IO?

    Also, will this documentation be released with a GPL-friendly license?

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