As computing devices quickly surpass the requirements of operating systems, it has increasingly become more efficient for organizations to invest/migrate to virtualized systems. Operating system virtualization technologies aren’t anything new but over the last several years they have become more and more popular as data centers look to provide more functionality in the same or less amounts of physical space. By simply leveraging un-used resources on powerful servers/workstations companies can effectively run multiple logical servers on one or several physical servers.
Citrix offers such a solution, known as XenServer, which utilizes the popular Linux Xen hypervisor. The Xen hypervisor is referred to as a “bare-metal hypervisor” meaning that it is installed to the physical server and acts as a resource manager for all of the virtualized server instances that will be run on top of Xen.
This contrasts to systems such as Virtualbox which require a Linux/Mac/Windows operating system to be installed and then virtual machines created within the Virtualbox application. This type of hypervisor is generally referred to as a hosted hypervisor. Both types of hypervisors have their place and benefits but this particular article is going to look at the bare-metal hypervisor in XenServer.
In this 5-article Citrix Xenserver series, we will going to cover the following topics:
Part 1: Installation and Configuring XenServer 6.5
Update*: In May 2016, Citrix released the new version of the XenServer 7 platform.
This first article will walk through the process of installing and configuring Citrix XenServer. Future additions to this article will walk through adding virtual machine storage repositories, XenServer pooling, creating virtual machines on the XenServer, as well as managing XenServers with XenCenter and Xen Orchestra as discussed above series.
- XenServer 6.5 ISO : http://xenserver.org/open-source-virtualization-download.html
- Server capable of virtualization
- Hardware Compatibility List is here: http://hcl.xenserver.org/
- Many systems will work even if not listed but results may vary, use at your own risk.
- Minimum 2GB ram; 4GB or more recommended to run virtual machines
- Mimimum 1 64bit 1.5GHz cpu; 2GHz or more and multiple CPUs are suggested
- Harddrive space of at least 16GB; more required if virtual machines will be saved locally
- At least a 100mbps network card; multiple gigabit suggested
Test System Configuration
- 1 IBM X3850
- 4 hexcore 2.66 GHz CPUs
- 64gb ram
- 4 gigabit NIC cards
- 4 300GB SAS drives (overkill but it was all that was available)
- 24TB Dell PE5500E for storage of the virtual machine disks (Not necessary if enough local space exists on the XenServer)
All in all this server is primed to be a stellar XenServer so let’s begin the installation process.
Installation of Citrix Xenserver 6.5 Guide
1. The first step in the installation is to download the XenServer ISO file. This can easily be accomplished by visiting the link above or using the ‘wget‘ utility on a Linux system.
# wget -c http://downloadns.citrix.com.edgesuite.net/10175/XenServer-6.5.0-xenserver.org-install-cd.iso
Now burn the ISO to a CD or using ‘dd‘ to copy the ISO to a flash drive.
# dd if=XenServer-6.5.0-xenserver.org-install-cd.iso of=</path/to/usb/drive>
2. Now place the media into the system that XenServer will be installed and boot to that media. Upon successful boot the user should be greeted by the wonderful Citrix XenServer boot splash.
3. At this point simply press enter to begin the booting process. This will boot the user into the XenServer installer. The first screen will ask the user to provide a language selection.
4. The next screen asks the user to confirm the reason for booting to this media as well as provide the option to load extra hardware drivers if needed. In this particular case, it is to install XenServer to the machine so it is safe to click “OK”.
5. The next prompt is the obligatory EULA (End User License Agreement). Feel free to read the whole thing, as your supposed to anyways right, otherwise using the keyboard arrows move the cursor over to the “Accept EULA” button and hit enter.
6. The next screen requests the installation device. In this example the RAID setup on the server is where XenServer will be installed.
The RAID system is reflected as “sda – 556 GB [IBM ServeRAID-MR10k]” For this guide, thin provisioning is not necessary. Make sure the the asterisk ( * ) character is next to the hard drive selection to install XenServer and tab to the “OK” button.
7. The next screen will prompt the user for the location of the installation files. Since the installer was boot locally with a CD/DVD/USB, make sure to select the “Local Media” option.
8. The next step allows for the installation of Supplemental Packs (SP) at the time of install. For this guide, none of the supplemental packs available will be installed at this point but will be covered later once XenServer is up and running.
9. The next screen will ask if the user wishes to verify that the installer media is not corrupt. Generally this is a good idea but is a personal choice. All in all the verification on this test server took about 3 minutes from a CD.