The Book of Xen - Short Review

Although I’ve been a big fan of virtualization for many years I’ve mostly been a VMWare man. UML was good for the time but VMWare workstation and GSX always seemed to be better solutions - and they had the benefits of dealing with Windows. At $WORK we looked at using Xen for our new development environment but it never felt very finished, little things like needing to compile your own dhcp client in order to get PXE booting working always felt very wrong.

But now we’re looking to move away from VMWare server for certain parts of our infrastructure everything’s back on the table so I went looking for a guide through the lands of Xen in the modern world - and I think I found an excellent one in The Book of Xen.

The book takes you through all the aspects of using Xen that you’d expect, from installing it, configuring the guests (DomU in Xen terminology) to making the most out of the networking options and local storage possibilities. Where it goes that extra mile is in sections like ‘Beyond Linux’, which guides you through using NetBSD and Solaris with Xen, Profiling and benchmarking under Xen and Lessons from the trenches, in which the authors (who run a Xen hosting service) tell you about their real-world aches and pains.

Apart from the chapter on the commercial Citrix XenServer, which I can understand the inclusion of but isn’t useful to me, there was something interesting in every chapter. After working through the book I have a good understanding of what needs attention in a Xen hosting setup and what might be weaknesses. All I need now is a similar book for KVM so I can avoid doing all my own research!.

An excellent guide to Xen that brings a lot of useful material into one place - 710