Tag Archives: LinuxCon China

Recap of LinuxCon China and Xen Project’s Growth in the Region

It’s been a very busy month or so for the Xen Project. During mid-June, I was lucky to attend and speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon China held in Beijing. There I spoke on the topic of securing embedded systems with the hypervisor and live patching, virtual machine introspection and vulnerability management alongside my colleague Cheng Zhang of Citrix.

Open source has grown tremendously in China over the last few years, with Xen Project technology being a key enabler for cloud computing. Most recently, the Xen Project announced Huawei joining the Project’s advisory board. Huawei is one of a growing number of Chinese companies leveraging and contributing to the Xen Project’s software. Other organizations include Alibaba, Fujitsu (China), Intel (China), Tencent, Inspur, and more.

The Xen Project hypervisor currently powers Alibaba Cloud, which is growing at a massive rate with incredible potential.

Many ask why is this growth happening in China and why now? There are many different reasons, but I think the main point is: As key technologies are increasingly built collaboratively, more and more Chinese companies are using open source to leapfrog competitors. By joining Linux Foundation projects, in-country organizations are helping to drive further growth and development.

Collaboration in China and at the Conference

Contributions with the Xen Project have greatly expanded over the last few years, especially in contributions and membership coming from China. In our latest release, Xen Project 4.9, we had 25% more contributors to the core hypervisor, and an increase of 17% of contributions coming from the hypervisor, tests, and other components. We received several contributions from individuals based in China as well as Fujitsu (China), Huawei Technologies, and Intel (China).

We are generally seeing more companies (in China and beyond) participating in the project with an eye toward automotive, embedded, security, and native-cloud computing.

During the conference, I was able to meet up with community members from Alibaba, Huawei, Hyper_, Intel and others.. Key highlights and conversations for me included:

  • In the last year, we have seen very rapid adoption of Xen Project based products in government (e.g. China State Grid), industry (e.g. CTCI), telecoms (e.g. China Mobile), banking/financial (e.g. ICBC, People’s Insurance Company of China) and are starting to see adoption in High Performance Computing. One surprising factor that is leading to rapid adoption of open source in China is that many industries are required to perform code audits on software with the aim of strengthening cybersecurity, which gives open source software a significant edge.
  • I had lots of discussions on the “ins and outs” of Virtual Machine Introspection, after I highlighted that VMI defeated WannaCry/EternalBlue a priori mentioned in my live patching, virtual machine introspection and vulnerability management talk. As I learned most WannaCry victims were based in China including a number of companies such as the China National Petroleum Corporation, which led to 20% of petrol stations across the mainland going offline.
  • Live Patching, and its potential limitations and the complexities of how to build and validate them, were also high on the list of discussions which came up several times.
  • Another highlight was a discussion around the proposed Shared coprocessor framework for Xen, whose design is currently being finalized and will support sharing of GPUs, DSPs, FPGs and security once the prototype has been completed and upstreamed. I had originally assumed that co-processor sharing was mainly of interested either in embedded or for niche cloud use-cases, but was surprised to learn that there may be much more market pull than anticipated.

I’m looking forward for continued collaboration and innovation in this region.

Xen 3.4 Source Code Overview

Xen Community:

I often see requests from various people for information on where certain features are located within the Xen source code. To assist those people, I have been working on (and still am) a Xen Source Code Guide for the newly released Xen 3.4 source code.

I expect to have all the source code files listed and described by the end of this week and then will start working on short summaries of each directory. The current version of the guide is listed below (I am always open to assistance from the community on this effort):


Feel free to send me any edits or updates. Thanks.

Xen 3.4 Launch Announcement

Xen.org is pleased to announce the latest release of the Xen hypervisor, the open source industry standard for virtualization. Xen.org is a global community of independent and industry developers, university researchers, users, and virtualization gurus who regularly contribute to the shared design, development, support, and improvement of the Xen hypervisor platform.

The new release, Xen 3.4, furthers the vision of creating a powerful, efficient, and ubiquitous virtualization hypervisor. As part of the Xen community’s commitment to continuous improvement, the new hypervisor offers significant enhancements in the following areas:

•    Xen Client Initiative (XCI) Enhancements –Xen.org continues develop industry virtualization standards for desktop and client devices. Xen 3.4 contains the initial XCI code release providing a base client hypervisor for the community to extend and improve. This new version of the Xen hypervisor expands the hardware options for the leading open source virtualization platform.

•    Reliability – Availability – Serviceability (RAS) – In addition, Xen now delivers a collection of features designed to avoid and detect system failures, provide maximum uptime by isolating system faults, and provide system failure notices to administrators to properly service the hardware/software. The combination of these services provide for a robust Xen hypervisor with fault-tolerant and back-up capabilities built-in.

•    Power Management – Xen 3.4 improves the power saving features with a host of new algorithms to better manage the processor including schedulers and timers optimized for peak power savings.

Xen 3.4 is currently available via free download to developers by visiting the Xen.org website at: http://www.xen.org/download

Momentum in the Xen Community

The Xen community remains strong and active.  On average, Xen.org receives more than 750 new code submissions to the source tree each month from developers across the world working on an array of solutions within the hypervisor. Industry leading companies such as Intel, AMD, HP, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Sun, Fujitsu, and Novell are part of the vibrant Xen.org community and contribute to the development of the hypervisor code. The Yankee Group’s Third Annual Virtualization Survey reports a significant increase of commercial Xen-based solutions which represent 17 percent of total market share. This includes a Citrix XenServer share of 11 percent, plus an additional six percent from other open source suppliers.

On an ongoing basis, university research and other high profile Xen projects   are regularly incorporated or run on the hypervisor. For example, Project Snowflock from the University of Toronto leverages the Xen hypervisor to instantaneously launch thousands of virtual machines for fast, efficient, scalable parallel processing and Project HXen extends the Type1 virtual machine monitor (VMM) functionality in Xen to a Type 2 VMM for a simplified method of deploying Xen to desktops, laptops, USB sticks and other devices where the base OS is left in place. For high availability, Project Kemari  and Project Remus provide transparent, comprehensive, high availability to ordinary virtual machines running on the Xen virtual machine monitor by maintaining a completely up-to-date copy of a running VM on a backup server, which automatically activates if the primary server fails. These are examples of the various contributions across academia and within the development community to Xen.org.

To date, thousands of companies and universities have chosen the power of open source Xen, making the Xen hypervisor their choice to provide virtualization in their IT environment. Last month, more than 100 attendees from the open source community participated in the Xen Summit sponsored by Oracle; similar events are planned in Europe and Asia this year to support the growing global community.

In addition, the Xen.org community is committed to providing more resources to its members:

•    Xen.org Solutions Search is a new online tool enabling customers to quickly find consultants, hosting providers, developers, and solutions built on the Xen hypervisor platform. This search system profiles the growing ecosystem for the Xen hypervisor.

•    Xen.org is committing resources to expand the global footprint for support and promotion of the open source Xen hypervisor. Materials are being translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese with the community Wiki now available in English, Spanish, French, Russian, German, Chinese, Korean Japanese, and Italian. Support groups for customers are also available in English, Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian.

•    Finally, Xen.org is excited to offer an event for virtualization customers and prospects in Europe called Xen Directions, being held in conjunction with LinuxTAG on June 27, 2009 in Berlin, Germany.  A variety of hands-on Xen demonstrations will be offered to the European technical audience for the first time. In 2010, Xen.org will be hosting the first event in South America as part of the FISL event in Brazil.

Xen 4.0 Feature Requests

With Xen 3.4 in test for final release shortly, it is time to submit your feature requests for the next release, Xen 4.0. The current product roadmap is at http://www.xen.org/download/roadmap.html and will be updated with the new features you submit once Xen 3.4 is released.

Please submit your feature requests to stephen.spector@xen.org for posting on the website.

Xen 3.4 Feature Request List

As the community begins the work to close down Xen 3.4 and finalize testing, I would like to reach out to the developers who have written new features or improved existing services so I can get a complete feature update list and start working on creating short blog entries for the new features.  Please email me directly the feature you worked on and if you are interested in helping me with the blog posting. Thanks.