This a guest post by Colin Dean, author of XVP, the set of free open source tools for administering VMs running on Xen Cloud Platform and XenServer. Colin has been writing system level software, especially client-server based tools, for a variety of OS platforms, since the late 1980s. He first got interested in OS virtualization in 2000, and for the last couple of years has been managing a XenServer installation at Durham University in the UK.
It’s nearly a year since I first blogged on xen.org about XVP. Since then, thousands of copies of the XVP appliance VM have been downloaded, and membership of the XVP mailing list grows almost every day.
In case you hadn’t heard, XVP allows you to boot, shutdown, reboot, suspend, resume and migrate VMs, and access their consoles, from any Windows, Linux or Mac desktop that has a web browser and Java runtime. It has a much simpler interface than XenCenter, and allows you to grant different rights to different users, so they can perform selected operations on all VMs in a pool or selected individual VMs. It also has the concept of groups of VMs – by assigning tags to VMs you can easily give users access to sets of VMs.
A number of Internet hosting providers have deployed XVP to give their customers access to the VMs they’re hosting for them. Other organizations, including Universities, use XVP internally, because it provides a quick and easy way to manage VMs, especially for people whose PCs don’t run Windows.
The XVP appliance bundles together the components of XVP (a VM console proxy server, a web interface for accessing pools, and various utilities) which were originally available separately. Using the appliance makes the whole suite very easy to use out of the box: after importing the appliance XVA file into XCP or XenServer, you just start it and answer a few questions on its console to get going. After that, you can manage the appliance (e.g. adding pools and users) via a simple menu-based interface. The appliance uses CentOS 5 as its base operating system, and is designed so that XVP and CentOS updates can be applied easily to keep it secure and up to date. Appliances currently based on CentOS 5.5 will readily upgrade to CentOS 5.6 when the latter is released any day now.
You can manage a single physical host, a single pool, or multiple Xen Cloud Platform and/or XenServer pools with a single instance of XVP. The current release of XVP is fully compatible with the latest XCP 1.0 release. Enhancements to XVP in the last year include tunneling of console connections over HTTP and HTTPS, support for LDAP-based user databases (including Active Directory), and finer-grained control over what users can see and do.
To find out more, visit the XVP website, at www.xvpsource.org, where you’ll find download and install instructions, screenshots, and links to join the mailing list.