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In case you're interested in Sun/Oracle Openstorage, Fiberchannel Enterprise technologies or just want to drink a glass of fine beer - drop a note.

May 19th I am at Frankfurt Int'l Airport (Sheraton Airport Hotel) and from May 20th to 30th I will be staying in Cameroon meeting friends.

For Cameroon I am interested in internet connections. Last time I set up Orange Wimax connections and I am particularly interested in Camtel and MTN's offerings.

You may contact me at +49 171 6522660.


Windows dynamic disks and Sun xVM

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The dynamic disk feature of Windows Server is quite efficient when it comes to work into a Sun xVM environment. The 30 GB disk "Disk 0" is handled by the OpenSolaris Dom-0 as a ZFS block volume:

dladm: VLANs with OpenSolaris (and Sun xVM)

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"dladm" also allows to define VLAN trunking and VLAN usage with OpenSolaris.

You may assign specific VLANs to xVM virtual domains/machines (DomU) as well as use them in Dom0 or in your bare OpenSolaris using zones or not.

The physical interface (e1000g0) will act as the native vlan interface in this example, producing packets without a 802.1q vlan tag.

Defining VLANs with dladm is simple:

dladm: Virtual networks with Sun xVM

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dladmetherstubbridge.pngSolaris has a nifty utility named "dladm" which creates "dynamic" links.

It can be used to:

  • work with virtual network interfaces
  • work with wireless interfaces (WiFi)
  • work with virtual switches (named etherstubs and bridges)

For our Xen-based xVM environment, a virtual switch to connect DomU's to an internal network is a common configuration. This virtual switch may even have an interface to the Dom0 system - the path to the outside world.

Sun xVM 3.4.2 available, dom0_min_mem

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win2008r2sysinfo.pngThe xvm-3.4-source tree has obviously reached 3.4.2, as there is no more "pre", "rc..." or other suffixes in the version number.

After a svcadm enable milestone/xvm (and a reboot if you don't already booted the Xen Hypervisor) all daemons are coming up, it seems to work.

Windows 2008 R2 in a HVM identifies the BIOS as "3.4.2-xvm" (click on the picture on the right to enlarge it).

Windows 2008 R2 on Sun xVM 3.4.2 / Xen

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devices2008r2.pngWindows 2008R2 and Sun Xen xVM? Yes it works. In Testsigning-Mode with the free GPL Xen drivers. Flawlessly. Performant.

To the right you see the result (click for original size).

The Xen Block volume (zfs volume in Dom0) is shown as "XEN PV DISK SCSI Disk Device", the virtual network interface as "Xen Net Device Driver".

To install Win 2008 R2 on Sun xVM begin to create a zfs block volume to hold the Windows boot disk:

Update: Xen Drivers for Windows 2003 and XP 32bit

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The free GPL Xen driver files (which are perfect for Sun xVM) which can be found on

have changed their naming scheme.

XP drivers are named gplpv_xp_version.msi

2003 32bit drivers are named gplpv_2003x32_version.msi; actual version number is

They'are also gplpv_Vista2008 (for Vista, 2008 and 2008R2 (only 64bit)).

A side note: To be able to use 64bit driver code on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 you have to turn testsigning on. Type as Administrator on the command line:

bcdedit /set testsigning on

reboot, install the 64bit drivers and your DomU Windows system will accept them.

New ZFS feature: deduplication - new in snv_128

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With Nevada 128 you'll get zpool/zfs version 22 with new features.

A noticeabe new feature is named "deduplication" which means that identical blocks are only kept once on disk reducing real storage use.

pascal@denver:~# zpool list
rpool   135G  63.7G  71.3G    47%  1.00x  ONLINE  -
xvm     135G  29.3G   106G    21%  8.52x  ONLINE  -

The pool "xvm" has some nearly identical block volumes (zfs zvol) for Xen/xVM use and the result is noticeable.

Don't forget to allocate enough RAM to your Dom0-kernel when using Sun xVM.

Xen 3.4.2 Sun xVM (3.4.2-rc1-xvm)

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Sun xVM 3.4.2 is available via source. The version below is outdated, please look at

The result of the Mercurial source tree snapshot from from Oct 06, 2009 built as non-debug packages - can be found here:

Be sure to remove the OpenSolaris packages with the same name before.  :)

Take this "AS-IS" without any warranty of any kind. I am not endorsed to Sun nor I take any responsibility for these packages. I used the OpenSolaris xvm-3.4 gate from Oct 06,2009. Xen version is 3.4.2-rc1-xvm.

It works well with snv_126.

OpenSolaris snv_126 and Xen 3.4.2-rc1-xvm

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There is snv_126 on the Mercurial repository at
xvm-gate 3.4 has also be taken to a new version: Xen 3.4.2-rc1-xvm (from 3.4.2-rc1-pre-xvm).

Sun Microsystems Inc.   SunOS 5.11      snv_126 October 2009
bfu'ed from /export/home/pascal/archives-nightly-osol-nd/i386 on 2009-10-23
Sun Microsystems Inc.   SunOS 5.11      snv_118 November 2008

pascal@priscilla:~$ uname -a
SunOS priscilla 5.11 snv_126 i86pc i386 i86xpv

rtc! Sun xVM: Wrong timezone offset in PV DomU?

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Running paravirtualized Linux Kernels as DomU on Sun xVM/Xen 3.4.2 I had the "little" problem that timezone offsets are not correct. My machines are located in Germany so the Timezone in Linux is "Europe/Berlin". The result:

OpenSolaris Dom0: Tuesday, September 22, 2009  7:06:38 AM UTC
Linux SLES 11 DomU: Tue Sep 22 11:06:38 CEST 2009

"CEST" means Central European Summer Time, and the offset should be two hours, not four!

The solution:
Dom0's real time (hardware) clock has to be set to UTC!
Using Linux as Dom0 this would be a simple  "hwclock --utc" call. On OpenSolaris the command is:

rtc -z UTC

The result will be written permanently in /etc/rtc_config.
Don't forget to do a
svcadm disable ntp; ntpdate ...yourtimeserver...; svc enable ntp

DomU Linux machines are immediately changing to the right time (9:06 CEST in the example above).

How storage works in Sun xVM/Xen?

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In the HVM case it is a little bit like this (simplified):

Redhat Enterprise 5 Server in Xen!

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Yes we know, Redhat Inc. has its own virtualization technique named KVM but nevertheless it installs just painless in a Xen environment.

I spent 15 minutes with an interactive install in a paravirtualized Sun xVM/Xen domain and this is very fast.

I described the steps in my little article: Installing Redhat Enterprise Linux 5 on Sun xVM

It appears in the Redhat network as "Para-virtualized" which is 100% correct:


Virtualization techniques and approaches

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virtualization-hypervisor-example-60.pngI began to compare some different approaches to virtualization available and to visualize them with graphical pictograms.

I am appreciating your feedback whether I achieved that goal or not.

The following articles are available so far:

  1. Why virtualization?
  2. Userspace-based virtualization (the easy way)
  3. Xen: Hypervisor-based virtualization
  4. ESX: Hypervisor-based virtualization
  5. Solaris Zones: A sharing approach
  6. Hybrid methods: KVM

vSphere 4 ESX vs Sun xVM Xen 3.4.2: Windows 2003 SP2

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I am not a Windows guy, I admit, but in our data center there are many Windows 2003 Server installations (32bit) and we are going to virtualize them.

Management's choice is VMWare vSphere 4 (ESX 4) but nevertheless I wanted to know how Sun xVM/Xen behaves compared to ESX. Forget all that nice Management tools offered by vmware, the only thing I was interested in is the performance feeling when actually using them.

The picture at the right (click on it to enlarge) shows the hardware list of the two "brothers": To the left you'll see the xVM DomU with paravirtualized disk and network drivers, to the right there's the vSphere ESX virtual machine with a paravirtualized SCSI disk device (and an IDE boot disk, you cannot boot in ESX from a paravirtualized disk).

Assigning CPUs works even in Domain-0!

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Just a small note:

It was just a test, but it worked!

You can control the number of CPU cores Dom0 uses (named "Domain-0" in the Sun xVM environment).

This command:

# virsh setvcpus Domain-0 2

results in that:

Sep  2 18:35:16 pgt01 unix: cpu0: externally initiated on-line
Sep  2 18:35:17 pgt01 unix: cpu1: externally initiated on-line
Sep  2 18:35:17 pgt01 unix: cpu2: externally initiated powered-off
Sep  2 18:35:18 pgt01 unix: cpu3: externally initiated powered-off

OS is OpenSolaris snv_121, which was bfu'd from snv_118.

(Setting the memory use and max memory use via virsh setmem and virsh setmaxmen do also work as expected, the system begins to swap out pages and/or flushes zfs cache data on disk).

Xen Drivers for Windows 2003: Mission accomplished!

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After having installed Windows 2003 Enterprise Server in a Sun xVM (Xen 3.4.2-rc1-pre-xvm)-Environment, performance was slow due to qemu-dm's tremendous task to emulate ATA/IDE disk access and the Realtek 8139 network chipset.

Xen Block and network drivers however for Windows seemed to exist only in commercial binary-only form supplied from some of the Xen vendors. After googling around, I found the Xen Wiki which included an article about GPL PV drivers for Windows:

Inside this article there is a link where these drivers can be downloaded in binary form:

For Windows 2003 Server the driver binary Microsoft Installer Archive (msi) is "wnet".
For my 3.4.2-xen-Setp (Sun xVM with OpenSolaris snv_121 as Dom0) I had to use gplpv_fre_wnet_x86_0.10.0.98-dontuse.msi. The other two versions did not work (resulting in a bluescreening windows...). I did not take "dontuse" literally...

Windows Server 2003 in Sun xVM domU

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Using OpenSolaris (BFU't to snv_121) and xvm-3.4.2-rc1-pre-xvm (cloned from I am able to install Windows 2003 Server using VNC. Neat.

The problem remains that the "qm-demu" daemon running on the Dom0 side to emulate ATAPI disks and a RTL8139 network connection is quite resource consuming. Running online update on a Suse Linux HVM DomU results in qm-demu eating up a whole CPU. With Windows, the same.

Youtube examples of xVM virt-install (hvm and paravirt)

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First, a paravirtualized example: Solaris Express CE 121 in a pv DomU:

I did little screen films to show you how easy it is to install operating systems in virtual xen domains using Sun xVM:

Solaris Express CE as DomU on xVM/Xen

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Just as a side note:
The (now dying) Solaris Express editions are perfectly installable and bootable in a paravirtualized Xen DomU, so it is very easy to install Solaris Express as a onnv build environment on an Open Solaris xVM server. First I created a zfs block device named "sol-nv-b119.zvol" on my zpool "xvm" and then I'll use it as a block device for the "disk":

pascal@schall:~# zfs create -b 128k -V 30G xvm/sol-nv-b119.zvol
pascal@schall:~# virt-install --ram 1024 --disk path=/dev/zvol/dsk/xvm/sol-nv-b119.zvol --paravirt --location=/xvm/ISO/sol-nv-b119-x86-dvd.iso  --name "Solaris_Express"

Starting install...
Retrieving file unix...   100% |=========================| 1.5 MB    00:00
Retrieving file x86.minir 100% |=========================| 103 MB    00:04
Creating domain...                                                 0 B 00:02
Connected to domain 3
Escape character is '^]'
v3.3.2-rc1-xvm-debu chgset 'Wed Aug 26 08:49:47 2009 +0200 18433:443f5f51ca41'
SunOS Release 5.11 Version snv_119 32-bit
Copyright 1983-2009 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Use is subject to license terms.
NOTICE: Invalid iBFT table 0x1
Configuring /dev

    1.     Solaris Interactive Text (Console session) (default)
    2.     Apply driver updates
    3.     Single user shell

Enter the number of your choice.

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