How Xen Virtualization Got Its Zen Back: LinuxCon
The open-source Xen virtualization hypervisor has undergone a transformation in recent years, revitalizing its community and generating new interest. How did it do it?NEW ORLEANS—The open-source Xen hypervisor project was once the only major virtualization technology on Linux. Over the years, its prominence and its community faded, but thanks to a spirited set of initiatives, Xen is now back. In a session at the LinuxCon conference here, Lars Kurth, chairman of the Xen Project Advisory Board, detailed his project's path from the edge of oblivion to once again being a prominent, well-respected and growing open-source technology. Xen started out as a project from the University of Cambridge, gaining the interest of IBM, among others, in its early days. The commercial company XenSource emerged out of that University of Cambridge effort and was acquired by Citrix in 2007 for $500 million. For a number of different organizational reasons, Citrix did not properly engage with the open-source community early on, which led to a number of major Linux distributions abandoning it in favor of rival virtualization hypervisor KVM. Kurth noted that today, even after some Linux distributions have left Xen behind, Xen has more than 10 million users and some impressive deployments. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud runs on Xen, as does the Rackspace Public Cloud. Why Xen Was Failing
There were a number of key reasons why the Xen project was failing, according to Kurth. One of the biggest issues was that the project, until recently, had unwritten rules about how it operated. In addition, there were undefined roles; for example, there were no rules on how someone could become a committer to the project. Plus, Kurth said, the project had no road map nor any release planning.