Monthly Archives: April 2008

Xen Books: Running Xen

Prentice Hall has released a sample chapter from the book Running Xen: A Hands-On Guide to the Art of Virtualization at http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1187966. Some of the book’s authors will be leading the Xen workshop at USENIX Technical Conference in Boston and possibly presenting at Xen Summit. If you are looking for a good book on the Xen hypervisor, I suggest taking a look at Running Xen.

Xen.org Website Update Project

The current Xen.org website has done a nice job of allowing people in the community access to the source code, released builds, documentation, mailing lists, etc; however, I believe that Xen.org can be transformed into a vital information repository for the Xen community leveraging the latest in web technology (like that marketing speak?). To accomplish this transformation, I am starting a new project to redo the existing website. All phases of this project will be open to the community for feedback and input; after all, Xen.org is a global community of technical experts with an amazing collective knowledge-base for me to tap into.

The intial phase of this project is to define the various “groups” of users who visit Xen.org to understand their wants and needs. I have taken a first pass at this and am publishing a Xen.org Website Requirements document in this blog. Please feel free to send email direct to me at stephen.spector@xen.org or add comments below. The more input the community gives, the better the final result.

I expect to start web development design and changes in Q3 so I plan to spend the rest of this quarter doing the necessary groundwork to ensure that the community gets the best solution possible.

Word 97 – Xen.org Web Proposal

Open Office 2.3 – Xen.org Web Proposal

PDF –  xen-web-requirements.pdf

End Software Patents Update

For those of you who love legal discussions and believe that Software Patents should be dissolved, here is some information I received today. NOTE – My posting of this information does not imply my agreement with nor disagreement with the concept; just found this interesting.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — April 8, 2008 — End Software Patents (ESP) has filed an amicus curiae brief in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC) rehearing of the In re Bilski case. The rehearing could lead to the elimination of patents on software. ESP executive director Ben Klemens said, “This is an historic opportunity to fix the US patent system, as the Bilski rehearing will directly address the boundaries of the subject matter of patents. In our brief, the End Software Patents project supports the Supreme Court’s long-held position that computer software should not be patentable, and has highlighted to the Court the real economic harm software patents cause the US economy.”

With the boundary to what can be patented effectively destroyed by previous Federal Circuit rulings, massive-scale liability has been created throughout the US economy. ESP’s brief also demonstrates that this liability is not merely a theoretical prediction, but a real economic harm. Over the last few months alone, ESP has tallied over fifty non-software companies being sued for infringement regarding their web sites or other course-of-business software, including the Green Bay Packers, McDonald’s, Dole Foods, Kraft Foods, Caterpillar, J Crew, Burlington Coat Factory, Wal-Mart, and Tire Kingdom. The rest of this list can be found at http://endsoftpatents.org/a-litany-of-lawsuits

Ironically, the Federal Circuit’s own web site at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/ is produced using software that likely infringes some number of software patents. In fact, the last decade of software patents has brought about many onerous and frivolous lawsuits, inspiring Congressional action and causing many to question the entire patent system. Many patents famous as the rallying points for patent opposition, such as the “Blackberry patents” from NTP v. Research in Motion, Ltd., have been software patents.

ESP’s brief points out that these patents centered on claims over pure information. Under US law, pure information is not patentable. Further, the Supreme Court ruled three times that pure information does not necessarily become patentable when recited in combination with a physical object, such as information written to paper or loaded into a computer’s memory. However, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ignored the Supreme Court’s repeated rulings, and began allowing patents on information plus any physical component: a formula, if saved to a computer’s hard drive; a price list, if money is eventually moved; not a correlation, but the act of correlating. The ESP brief recommends re-establishing the Supreme Court’s rule that information should not be patentable, even when claimed in tandem with a physical afterthought.

In its review, the Federal Circuit rehearing of the In re Bilski case will address three issues essential to the patentability of software:

   1. What standard should govern in determining whether a process is patent-eligible subject matter?

   2. Is the claimed subject matter not patentable because it constitutes an abstract idea or mental process? When does a claim that contains both mental and physical steps create patent-eligible subject matter?

   3. Must a method or process result in a physical transformation of an article or be tied to a machine to be patent-eligible subject matter?

ESP’s amicus brief can be found at http://endsoftpatents.org/bilski The rehearing will take place on Thursday May 8, 2008.

About End Software Patents

End Software Patents is a project formed to eliminate patents for software and other designs with no physically innovative step. It promotes a US technology-development environment which will drive innovation and growth in the global marketplace. End Software Patents receives sponsorship from the Free Software Foundation. For more information on participating in the project, or to access its knowledge base, please visit its website at http://endsoftpatents.org Media Contacts


Ben Klemens
Executive Director
End Software Patents
esp@nosoftpatents.org

Xen Markmail Search Tool

I often receive email from people asking questions that typically end up being sent to xen-users for a quick response. I wanted to remind people that we have a great search utility at http://xen.markmail.org that will search every xen mailing list email sent since the mailing lists were started. Their are currently 117,600 messages in the tool for searching and the user interface is very impressive. If you haven’t tried this tool, be sure to check it out.

Install and Run Xen on Fedora 8

As the Xen.org community manager, I felt it was worth my time to install Xen on a machine to learn more about how it works and what it takes to install. I am sharing my experience with the community, especially for people looking at Xen for the first time. Note, I am not an amateur Linux/UNIX user but haven’t played with it much in a few years so I consider myself rusty.

Selection of Operating System – I decided to load Xen on a Fedora 8 machine by looking over the Xen.org Wiki (http://wiki.xensource.com/xenwiki/HowTos) and found a link to a nice document about loading Xen on Fedora 8 from the Fedora Wiki (http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Docs/Fedora8VirtQuickStart ).

Installation Steps – I did find some problems when going through the steps on the Fedora 8 installation document so here are the steps I followed which have additional items not clearly stated in the document:

  1. Install Virtualization Software: su -c “yum groupinstall ‘Virtualization'”
  2. ADDED STEP: su -c “yum install xen kernel-xen”
  3. Check System – Administration – Services for xend
  4. Check /boot/grub/grub.conf to ensure you have a xen boot option (my conf file has this option)
    title Fedora (2.6.21.7-3.fc8xen)
    root (hd0,0)
    kernel/xen.gz-2.6.21.7-3.fc8
    module/vmlinuz-2.6.21.7-3.fc8xen ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 rhbg quiet
    module/initrd-2.6.21.7-3.fc8xen.img
  5. Reboot the machine and select proper Xen kernel: I selected Fedora(2.6.21.7-3.fc8xen)
  6. su -c “virt-manager”
  7. Open a connection for “Xen” with “local”
  8. Click on NEW Button
  9. Enter System Name
  10. Select Paravirtualized or Fully Virtualized Method
  11. Locate Installation Meda ; I used http://mirror.stanford.edu/fedora/linux/releases/8/Fedora/i386/os
  12. Storage Space – I used Simple File
  13. Connect to Host Network
  14. Allocate Memory and CPU
  15. Load Virtual Machine

Finally, I get a Virtual Machine Console to launch and it goes through the process of installing Fedora 8; I was not able to complete the install as I ran out of memory trying to install a 2nd full Fedora system on my box – I don’t have much memory on my system. I will be trying to load a tiny Linux OS version in the future; however, following the steps above will give you a Xen enabled Fedora 8 system capable of running Dom0 and a DomU.

NOTE – I was able to get CentOS 5.1 to load with no memory issues using the following http address - http://mirror.centos.org/centos-5/5/os/i386/ 

USENIX ’08 Xen Training Session

As part of Xen Summit being co-located with the USENIX Annual Technical Conference in Boston, Xen.org is hosting a 1 day training session on the Xen hypervisor. Thanks to everyone who offered their assistance to run the training session. The session is currently listed at http://www.usenix.org/events/usenix08/training/tutonefile.html#s4 with Todd Deshane and Patrick Wilbur from Clarkson University leading the effort with myself in limited support. The training is being held Sunday June 22 and everyone in the community is invited to attend.