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Xen Project 4.5.5 Maintenance Release is Available

I am pleased to announce the release of Xen 4.5.5. Xen Project Maintenance releases are released in line with our Maintenance Release Policy. We recommend that all users of the 4.5 stable series update to this point release.

Xen 4.5.5 is available immediately from its git repository:

    xenbits.xenproject.org/gitweb/?p=xen.git;a=shortlog;h=refs/heads/stable-4.5
    (tag RELEASE-4.5.5)

or from the Xen Project download page at www.xenproject.org/downloads/xen-archives/xen-45-series/xen-455.html.

This release contains many bug fixes and improvements. For a complete list of changes in this release, please check the lists of changes on the download page.

We recommend all users of the 4.5 stable series to update to this latest point release.

Q&A: Xen Project Release Strengthens Security and Pushes New Use Cases

The following Q&A with Lars Kurth, the Xen Project chairperson, was first published on Linux.com.

Xen Project technology supports more than 10 million users and is a staple in some of the largest clouds in production today, including Amazon Web Service, Tencent, and Alibaba’s Aliyun. Recently, the project announced the arrival of Xen Project Hypervisor 4.7. This new release focuses on improving code quality, security hardening and features, and support for the latest hardware. It is also the first release of the project’s fixed-term June – December release cycles. The fixed-term release cycles provide more predictability making it easier for consumers of Xen to plan ahead.

We recently sat down with the Xen Project chairperson, Lars Kurth, to talk about some of the key features of the release and the future of Xen Project technology. Lars will be discussing this topic and more during Xen Project’s Developer Summit in Toronto, CA from August 25-26 — the conference is directly after LinuxCon North America.

Q: What was the focus on this release?

Lars Kurth: There were five areas that we focused on for this release (full details are in our blog). In summary, we focused on security features, migration support, performance and workloads, support for new hardware features, and drivers and devices (Linux, FreeBSD and other).

Security is consistently something that we focus on in all of our releases. There are a lot of people that rely on Xen Project technology and security is our top concern in any release as well as how we organize our process around security disclosures.

Q: What was the biggest feature coming out of this release?

Lars: The biggest feature for us is live patching, which is a technology that enables re-boot free deployment for security patches to minimize disruption and downtime during security upgrades for cloud admins. It essentially eliminates all cloud reboots, making cloud providers and their users much more safe. It also eliminates a lot of headaches for system and DevOps admins of the world.

Q: Xen is often associated with the cloud, but are there additional use cases that you see growing around this technology, if so why?

Lars: We are seeing a lot of growth in terms of contributions, as well as many different use cases emerging, including automotive, aviation, embedded scenarios, security, and also IoT. In addition, we continue to grow within the public cloud sector and traditional server virtualization.

On the security front, for example, a number of vendors such as A1Logic, Bitdefender, Star Lab and Zentific have released or are working on new Xen Project-based security solutions. In addition, the security focused and Xen-based OpenXT project has started to work more closely with the Xen Project community.

Long-time contributors to the Xen Project, such as DornerWorks – a premier provider of electronic engineering services for the aerospace, medical, automotive, and industrial markets – have expanded their scope and are now providing support for the Xen Xilinx Zynq Distribution targeting embedded use-cases. We have also seen an increasing number of POCs and demos of automotive solutions, which include Xen as a virtualization solution.

Growth in these sectors is largely due to the Xen Project’s flexibility, extensibility, customisability and a clear lead when it comes to security-related technologies. Over the last year, we have also seen contributions increase from developers with strong security and embedded backgrounds. In fact, this totaled nearly 17 percent of the overall contributions in this release cycle, up from 9 percent in the previous release.

Q: How did you address these uses cases in this latest release?

Lars: We introduced the ability to remove core Xen Project Hypervisor features at compile via KCONFIG. This creates a more lightweight hypervisor and eliminates extra attack surfaces that are beneficial in security-first environments and microservice architectures. Users will still be able to get the core hypervisor functions, but they won’t receive all the drivers, schedulers, components or features that might not fit their use case.

Essentially it gives people an “a la carte” feature set. They can decide what they need for compliance, safety or performance reasons.

Q: Were there any new contributors for this release that surprised you?

Lars: We had three new companies contributing to the project: Star Lab, Bosch and Netflix. I met engineers from Star Lab for the first time at the 2015 Developer Summit less than a year ago, and helped introduce them to the Project’s culture. In that short period of time, Doug Goldstein from Star Lab has moved into the top five contributors and top 10 code reviewers for the Project.

I was surprised about Netflix’s contributions; I didn’t even know the company used Xen. Netflix improved and secured the VPMU feature, which is incredibly useful for system tuning and performance monitoring. Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH added some new ARM functionality. In addition, we have seen quite a bit of Xen related development in upstream and downstream projects such as Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, QEMU and Libvirt.

Q: What’s next for Xen Project? Where do you think the technology is heading in the future and why?

Lars: In the last three releases, we introduced several major new features such as PVH, COLO, new schedulers, VMI, Live Patching, Graphics Virtualization, etc. and significant re-work of existing features such as Migration and the Xen Security Modules (XSM). Looking at trends within the community, I expect that stepwise evolution of large new features to continue.

Some new capabilities, such as restartable Dom0’s, and additional techniques to provide more isolation and security, are also likely to appear. In addition, it looks likely that we will see some GPU virtualization capabilities for GPUs that target the ARM ecosystem, although it is not yet clear whether these will be available as open source. I also expect that both Intel and ARM hardware features will be closely tracked.

Some areas, such as new schedulers, XSM, PVH and Live Patching, will see significant efforts to harden and improve existing functionality. The goal is to ensure their swift adoption in commercial products and Linux and BSD distributions. Some features, which are not enabled by default are likely to become part of the Xen Project Hypervisor’s default configuration.

Call For Participation for the Xen Project Developer Summit in Toronto

XPDS16

Now Accepting Submissions Through May 6

We’re excited to announce the call for speaking proposals for Xen Project Developer Summit 2016, which will be held in Toronto, Canada, August 25-26, 2016. The Xen Project Developer Summit brings together the Xen Project’s community of developers and power users for their annual developer conference. The summit will be co-located with a number of other events, including LinuxCon, ContainerCon, KVM Forum and Linux Security Summit.

To get a sense of past accepted submissions, check out last years presentations. Accepted speakers will be notified by May 27th. The schedule will be announced on June 3rd.

Birds of a Feather Sessions & Discussion Groups

This year, we will again have space for Birds of a Feather Sessions & Discussion Groups, which are in-depth interactive discussions that allow for collaboration between Xen Project developers and community members. We will publish how you can request a BoF closer to the event. In the meantime, here are the ground rules BoFs:

  • Each BoF host will get 3-5 minutes (depending on the number of BoFs on the day) to pitch your BoF to the entire audience. Slides are not allowed.
  • After we publish the Xen Project Developer schedule, community members that have registered for the summit can submit a request to host a BoF (specifying a couple of slots in preference order)
  • BoFs are small discussion groups, not presentations. You are expected to take notes (or nominate an attendee to do so) and post discussion notes on one of our mailing lists after the summit.

Developer Meeting

I am also pleased to announce that we will also be hosting a 1/2 day Xen Project Developer Meeting the day before the Xen Project Developer Summit (space is limited). The event is open to all members of the Developer Community. More details will follow soon.

Where to stay at the summit

Discounted hotels are listed at the event website at the price of CAD $209.00 per night. Reservations have to be made by July 29th. We are sharing a room block with other Linux Foundation events, so please book early.

Future of Xen Project: Video Spotlight Interview with Xen Project’s Chairperson Lars Kurth

Lars Kurth had his first contact with the open source community in 1997 when he worked on various parts of the ARM toolchain. He has since become an open source enthusiasts, worked on several open source communities, and is the chairperson of the Xen Project Advisory Board. He is also the Director of the Xen Project at Citrix.

He recently sat down to discuss why Xen Project software makes sense for the cloud and where the community and technology is heading this year in this short video. Read on for more.

The Xen Project community has flourished and grown throughout the years. The latest release from the Xen Project (Hypervisor 4.6) produced the best quality and quantity of contributors from cloud providers, software vendors, hardware vendors, academic researchers and individuals.

The Xen Project entices new users to join with its high energy and inclusive nature. It periodically hosts hackathons to give developers the opportunity to meet face to face, to discuss development, coordinate, write code, and collaborate with other developers. The Project will have its next hackathon at ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge on April 18 – 19.

Since the Xen Project became a collaborative project under the Linux Foundation tutelage in 2013, the technology has been able to break into a lot of new use cases, most notably automotive and embedded — check out GlobalLogic’s use of Xen on Linux.com if you haven’t read it already. These recent innovations areas have also been very beneficial to traditional Xen Project use cases. For example, Automotive real-time scheduling is not only important for this industry, but server and data centers as they relate to things like online gaming.

From it’s inception, Xen was created for cloud computing — its early work with Amazon AWS allowed the hypervisor to create a great architecture for the cloud. It has since brought on a lot of new members and contributors to help continue to address the current and future needs of cloud computing, and will continue to innovate in new market segments from automotive to Unikernels.

Why GlobalLogic Uses Xen (Overheard at CES)

We were lucky to have the opportunity to meet up with GlobalLogic at CES and talk to them about their Nautilus platform for automotive virtualization. A few years ago, no one understood why the company was demoing hypervisor technology as a part of Nautilus, a set of solution accelerators that includes architectural concepts, a modified Android OS distribution, and advanced UI concepts. Today, however, no one is questioning why they are using virtualization.

As Alex Agizim, CTO of GlobalLogic told us, “People now clearly understand why Xen is needed to implement the functionality that the market demands. The ability to consolidate different systems on a single computer to gain time to market offers tremendous advantages. Virtualization also offers more flexible functionality and all the benefits of an open world, yet the system is very well controlled with security and stability. The Xen hypervisor is the right solution to allow GlobalLogic to accomplish this.”

If you want to learn more about the technology behind Nautilus and how GlobalLogic’s GPU virtualization solution enables multiple domains to share the GPU hardware with no more than a 5 percent overall drop in performance, check out Agizim’s latest byline on Linux.com or better yet, check out this demo.

IMG_20160107_192243524 (1).jpg

ARM hosts Xen Project Hackathon, April 18-19 in Cambridge, UK

I am pleased to announce the next Xen Project Hackathon. The Hackathon will be hosted by ARM in their Cambridge Headquarters from April 18 and 19. I wanted to thank Philippe Robin and Thomas Molgaard from ARM for hosting the Hackathon.

ARMARM designs technology that is at the heart of advanced digital products and has built a broad partner community that increasingly embraces an open source and collaborative development model to keep pace with transitions in the industry. Enabling developer collaboration on open source projects, like Xen, is key to help optimize support for system virtualization. ARM is pleased to host and support this event.

What to expect at a Xen Project Hackathon?

The aim of the Hackathon is to give developers the opportunity to meet face to face, to discuss development, coordinate, write code, and collaborate with other developers. And, of course, the event will allow everyone to meet in person and build relationships. To facilitate this, we will have a social event on the evening of the 18th. We will cover many hot topics such as the latest Xen Project Hypervisor 4.7 features, planning for the next Xen Project Hypervisor release, Cloud Integration, Cloud Operating Systems, Mirage OS as well as Xen Project in emerging segments such as embedded, mobile, automotive and NFV. But, at the end of the day, the community will chose the topics that are covered — more on our process here below.

To ensure that the event runs efficiently, we adhere to the following process: Each day is divided into several segments. We will have a number of work areas that are labelled with numbers (or other unique identifiers). Each morning starts with a plenary and scheduling session. Every attendee who cares about a topic can announce a topic, which we will map against a work area and time-slot. This makes it easy for other attendees to participate in projects and discussions they care about. We also encourage attendees to highlight projects they plan to share before the event by adding them to our wiki.

We will wrap up each day with another short plenary session: the aim of this session is to summarize what was done, show brief demos and make improvements to the process.

To give you a sense of the venue, we attached a few pictures of the venue:

ARM Cambridge Arm Cambridge Panorama ARM Cambridge Atrium

How to Register?

As spaces at the Xen Project Hackathon are limited, we are asking attendees to request an invitation. You will need to cover your own travel, accommodation and other costs such as evening meals, etc. We do have a very limited number of travel stipends available for individuals who cannot afford to travel. Please contact community dot manager at xenproject dot org if you need to make use of it.

Reports from Previous Hackathons

More Information