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XenServer 6.2 Is Now Fully Open Source 86

Posted by timothy
from the boundless-bounty dept.
First time accepted submitter Jagungal writes "Although the core Xen hypervisor has always been open source from the start, Citrix have now released the next version of their XenServer including all features and tools under an open source license. This includes also introducing a new XenServer.org community portal. The major change for users is that they now get all features from the licensed version for free but unless they pay for support, they have to do all security updates manually. Change logs for the new version 6.2 can be found here. It's been a few years since Citrix started giving it away, free as in beer.
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XenServer 6.2 Is Now Fully Open Source

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  • Yay! now we get to port it to VCPI
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 29, 2013 @11:04PM (#44145381)

    and it was the best choice we ever made.

    live migration is free (as in beer). and it runs its little heart out with no problems.

    2 years now, 30 TB of files, 40 GB of mysql data, about 30 VMs on 4 hosts. not one single problem.

    The only issue we've run into is getting fully paravirtualized FreeBSD. It is a rather involved process. But once you have one VM you just copy it like a template. And luckily ZFS On Linux is starting to be good enough so we don't have to really care about FreeBSD so much.

    Plain-vanilla Xen (not Xenserver) with DRBD (et al.) making instant failover is pretty awesome too.

    Fuck VMWare.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're not VMWare's target market. If you or any of your co-workers who handle Xen leave your company (or get hit by a bus/wiped out by vengeful spouses, etc.), how are they going to get support for Xen? All of a sudden your cheap IT budget explodes in one single incident, hiring someone (or paying through the nose for support) to rebuild/recover from scratch. Some businesses would basically tank at this point.

      While VMWare is pricey - I have yet to worry about any problems for the company I work for aris

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just like there are many people on the planet that know VMWare, there are many people on the planet that know Xen. Just like you didn't learn VMWare by being born with the knowledge, there are manuals for Xen too.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Fewer who know Xen than VMWare, though. We've been trying for 3 years to hire a Xen expert to replace the prior one -- who is still at the company, but who got promoted to management and doesn't have time to keep Xen up -- and are increasingly leaning towards ditching XenServer for VMWare just because nobody except this guy understands it.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            This is just a guess, but you're probably not offering enough pay.

            • by pnutjam (523990)
              Good point. I'm sick of seeing the constant ads posted on craigslist for top tier talent at $15 an hour. If you are a tech company, paying secretary wages is a mistake. Talent costs money.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        You're not VMWare's target market. If you or any of your co-workers who handle Xen leave your company (or get hit by a bus/wiped out by vengeful spouses, etc.), how are they going to get support for Xen? All of a sudden your cheap IT budget explodes in one single incident, hiring someone (or paying through the nose for support) to rebuild/recover from scratch. Some businesses would basically tank at this point.

        While VMWare is pricey - I have yet to worry about any problems for the company I work for arising from the few of us knowledgeable leaving. That is called responsible IT management. VMWare support, in the few cases we have needed it, has been top notch. If I give notice tomorrow, vmware support will carry the company through any issues that would arise until they could bring someone else on board.

        you can't buy support for xenserver? because that's what you're saying. unless you actually work for vmware, because you know, nobody really uses the termp top notch unless they're writing from a script or just trolling. vmware is just bullshit fleecing licensing.

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        They guys that know what they are doing are expensive no matter what platform they are supporting. Sure there are plenty of know-nothing vmware guys since it is a more common buzzword. Too bad you are just getting a warm body that can take directions and call a support line. I good tech/admin is totally different.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by mysidia (191772)

      and it was the best choice we ever made.

      I went the opposite direction. We had been using exclusively Xenserver.... then at some point VMware released a free edition of ESXi; this is huge, and we tested it and found many advantages.

      Eventually, we ditched Xenserver. For the past few years we have been using VMware vSphere, and ditching Xenserver was one of the better choices we ever made.

      3 years now. 20 Tb of files; 6 TB of Exchange mailboxes, 500 GB of SQL Server and MySQL data, >100

      • by niftydude (1745144) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @12:04AM (#44145565)

        3 years now. 20 Tb of files; 6 TB of Exchange mailboxes, 500 GB of SQL Server and MySQL data, >1000 transactions per second , 16 to 1 consolidation ratio, with CPU, Memory, and Storage heavily oversubscribed; 280 VMs on 3 hosts, and no issues..

        See? Other people can do that too...

        Sorry dude, this is slashdot. You lost your epeen contest with the op when you admitted your organisation uses exchange and sql server.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by mysidia (191772)

          Sorry dude, this is slashdot. You lost your epeen contest with the op when you admitted your organisation uses exchange and sql server.

          Would it be a good time to remind you that there aren't really any open source e-mail server products that are truly enterprise grade?

          Sendmail doesn't work so well, when you are required to allow users to keep 20 Gigabytes in their mailbox, Share calendars / Tasks; access mail on their iPhone or Android device, Spamassassin's spam filtering sucks even with Bayesian fil

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Since you mention sendmail and email box sizes, you obviously don't know WTF you're talking about. Despite what you're learned working with exchange, not all MTAs have be the same giant POS as your "mailbox."

            Also, bitching because there's not an OSS platform that doesn't work with Windows proprietary solution doesn't mean that there's a problem with OSS.

            • by mysidia (191772)

              Despite what you're learned working with exchange, not all MTAs have be the same giant POS as your "mailbox."

              It's not MTA functionality. It is LDA functionality.

              Sendmail writes a flat file... this results in some limitations

              (1) The 'inbox' (mail spool file) cannot exceed 2GB.
              (2) Performance with monster sized mailboxes (very large number of mail messages) is extremely poor.

              (3) In regards to open source mail clients and IMAP clients; nothing exists that scales satisfactorially. Definitely not P

              • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @05:53AM (#44146397) Journal

                It's not MTA functionality. It is LDA functionality.

                Sendmail writes a flat file... this results in some limitations

                No it doesn't

                define(`confLOCAL_MAILER', `cyrusv2')

                Problem solved.

              • by deek (22697)

                I think what you mean to say is the default MDA (or LDA) agent for sendmail writes a flat file. It looks a bit strange when you claim sendmail also has MDA duties.

                Unsure why you think a flat file cannot exceed 2GB. Of course, it's not optimal to have a mailbox file that big, but if you're running a mail system that deals with large mailboxes, you'd have switched to the Maildir format years ago. This also helps with mailboxes with a very large number of messages, or at least, it pushes the problem to the

                • by mysidia (191772)

                  Unsure what you mean by enforcing security policy.

                  I'll give you some examples, with how this is achieved within an Exchange environment in a typical enterprise:

                  • Users outside the enterprise access their mail through Activesync or OWA (Outlook Web Access)
                  • These services are published to the internet by a Forefront UAG or TMG -- smart card, or password and 2-factor access token are used for login via OWA, so this is secure.
                  • Activesync is the open standards-based protocol utilized with smart phones,
                  • by deek (22697)

                    Thanks for the clarification. Some good information there, but still not as coherent as I'd like.

                    Excellent points about the security policy. Other than Activesync also possible to use with open source software, I can't think of any equivalent ability for the other features you mention.

                    I'm confused as to why you think OSS doesn't have adequate vertical scaling. Add more RAM, you can run more simultaneous connections. Add more/faster disks, you can fetch mail more quickly. Add more CPU, and, well, it's j

                  • Interesting.
                    We moved from Open-xchange (maildir, cyrus imap) to exchange 2010 a while back mostly for political reasons.
                    Our email backups have become a nightmare.
                    We can't backup exchange mailboxes while they're being replicated to our DR site - the exchange server blue-screens BY DESIGN to provent the mailstore from being corrupted. Thanks, Microsoft! After shutting dowen replication we have to backup the entire 200GB database as one blob, every time - this takes at least a couple of hours over the network

                    • by mysidia (191772)

                      We can't backup exchange mailboxes while they're being replicated to our DR site - the exchange server blue-screens BY DESIGN to provent the mailstore from being corrupted.

                      It sounds like a possible storage sizing issue, or an issue with the way the replication has been put into place; it's not acceptable to block an Enterprise application's production I/O for DR operations: I wonder if your replication solution is freezing writes or using up all the disk IOPS... it is definitely possible to desig

            • by mysidia (191772)

              Also, bitching because there's not an OSS platform that doesn't work with Windows proprietary solution doesn't mean that there's a problem with OSS.

              No. I am just disappointed that there is no OSS platform that is suitable, because I really want there to be. I would love for all the code required to implement Enterprise services to be open source, and for them to be scalable, proven, robust, self-maintaining, and not requiring ad-hoc script work and daily attention from highly experienced unix en

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by niftydude (1745144)

            Would it be a good time to remind you that there aren't really any open source e-mail server products that are truly enterprise grade?

            At least you didn't go so far as to try to defend MS SQL Server. Who mentioned OSS? I didn't. The reason the MS unholy trinity of server services (by which I mean exchange, sql server and IIS) are immediately disqualified for me is that they all need a GUI based operating system. Something about that just makes me want to run screaming while waving my hands in the air. If

            • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @05:20AM (#44146343)

              . If you are doing anything serious (or even moreso if you aren't), you generally don't have the RAM to waste on a bloated operating system that has to start up and maintain a GUI whether you are using it or not.

              So there is a bit of this RAM used to provide GUI functionality. It's worthwhile, because it means some maintenance tasks to junior staff whose skills for picking up CLIs are more limited; on the other hand, they can still be trained to manage the server, using remote management tools of course.

              There is practically no reason an administrator should be logging into the server and starting up a graphical console, since all administration tools can be installed on their workstation and used remotely.

              Furthermore... in 2008, core install was introduced, which no longer includes a GUI for servers, and this is supported with SQL 2012

              In Windows Server 2013; with some exceptions, the desktop experience is not required on servers, and generally, there will be no GUI.

              Anyways... the success of a hypervisor should not be judged based on the perceived quality of the applications it has virtualized. It is not a more meaningful feat to run MySQL in a hypervisor than it is to run MS SQL in a hypervisor.

              If anything.. with MySQL there are fewer sizing hints, AND the operational metrics provided by the database engine are much sparser than the detailed instrumentation that MS SQL provides -- with MS SQL, you get a heck of a lot better information about the performance and sizing.

              At least you didn't go so far as to try to defend MS SQL Server. Who mentioned OSS? I didn't.

              MS SQL server is the only backend supported by some applications, and some developers.

              Personally, I would favor Oracle, but getting anyone to agree to pay for it, is a problem.

              The fact of the matter is SQL server provides robust hitless failover clustering functionality. Postgres and MySQL do not provide this; although they are getting closer. They are worlds apart in terms of features, so it's not really fair to pick one or the other as a dilemma play, now is it?

              Some application owners will demand MS SQL, and some will demand PostgreSQL, and that's OKAY.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              If you are doing anything serious (or even moreso if you aren't), you generally don't have the RAM to waste on a bloated operating system

              Nonsense. How much RAM does the most bloated operating system use? Less than a gigabyte? How much does RAM cost now? How much RAM can you get into a PC server now? Oh, so that hypothetical gigabyte is basically irrelevant? I see.

              • since we're talking about VMs, when you have several instances running on your hardware, then yes, all those stray gigabytes do add up. And ms has basically admitted this is a problem, since I'm told you can run Windows server 2013 in a completely headless mode.

                So they have finally seen the need to catch up to a feature that's existed in the last 50 years of *nix and mainframe, even if you don't.
                • by mysidia (191772)

                  since we're talking about VMs, when you have several instances running on your hardware, then yes, all those stray gigabytes do add up.

                  The Windows GUI is megabytes, not gigabytes, and these memory pages are transparently shared between VMs running on the same host, so the memory for GUI code in memory is deduplicated and "used once" for the benefit lots of VMs it's not that bad.

                  Most of the memory waste is due to the .NET framework, which leverages Garbage-collection based memory management for

          • by msh104 (620136) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @05:03AM (#44146309)

            The Zimbra Open Source Edition is probably a very good choice.
            - 99% of all companies don't need features then the open source edition.
            - it supports large mailboxes very well. ( some of our employees have 21gb mailboxes, it still runs smooth )
            - You can buy a plugin for encryption if you really need it.
            - Mail (IMAP), Calender (iCal) and adressbook (LDAP) sync is possible to almost any device.
            - You can always get the commercial version if you need the extras.

            I don't think you can remotely wipe your mail using an open source product but nowadays you might simply get any android of iphone device and use a wiping app. Maybe not as convenient but it works.

            Spamassasin can work very well ( it certainly does for us ) using external blocklists and distributed mail analysis services ( dcc, razor2 ) in addition to it's core filters. We added greylisting as well. Everything runs as part of the Amavis product. We don't use Bayesian filtering though. While good on paper we found it to be to unpredictable in real life. ( people reporting valid mailing lists as spam instead of unsubscribing, etc ) Instead we added around 15 additional custom spam filter lines over the years but that's it. Now all our spam is gone. We filter mail for over 1500 domains and our customers have never been happier.

            • by riondluz (726831)

              I managed a zimbra system some time back and it was OK, support was pretty good. But it was all for the outlook plugins. Too much overhead otherwise (imo). Citadel is another good product.

              Still, when all is said and done, count me in as a fanboy of sendmail on a xenU; despite my peers always singing the praises of postfix.

              I use it with selinux, the milters, razor, pyzor, dcc, clam, combined with a virtusertable that routes non-existant users to the pit:
              @some-domain.com error:nouser No such user here
              and req

            • by mysidia (191772)

              The Zimbra Open Source Edition is probably a very good choice.

              There's a problem with that.... you do any business with the vendor of Zimbra at all, and the EULA that you have to accept forbids using the open source edition of Zimbra, even for separate unrelated business.....

              Otherwise, yeah, the open source Zimbra is a potential alternative, for people to look like who are not forbidden by software licensing terms to consider that alternative.

          • Well for starters, ditch Sendmail, use Exim, and then implement DRBD with linux HA, Dovecot, and Perdition.
            If by enterprise grade, you mean "good enough for an ISP to use", then open source does just fine with a bit of tweaking and fine tuning.

            So spamassassin uses a lot of CPU? Have you seen the resources an exchange DAG requires?
            Granted, exchange has a nice calendar system and the extra goodies that businesses want, but that's a real cost/benefit analysis given licensing and the amount of hardware you have

            • by vux984 (928602)

              If by enterprise grade, you mean "good enough for an ISP to use", then open source does just fine with a bit of tweaking and fine tuning.

              I think by enterprise grade he means that it has the FEATURES the modern enterprise user expects.

              What is typical ISP mail? POP+IMAP with a couple hundred megabyte limits. No calendar/contact sync to my phone or desktop client. No remote wipe of my phone. No Calender sharing, no global address book, no encryption, no certificate authentication,...

              The email i get from an ISP

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by mysidia (191772)

              So spamassassin uses a lot of CPU? Have you seen the resources an exchange DAG requires?

              Yes. I have, and Spamassassin/Amavis is orders of magnitude more expensive CPU-wise. This is probably due to the very massive amount of spam being attempted, and the inability of RBLs and tools such as DCC and Vipul's razor to effectively divert them, before Spamassassin starts chugging away at massive concurrency.

              All the more bothersome, when some domains want "wildcard forwarding rules", so brute-force spam

    • by gbr (31010)

      I've been using XenServer for five years (3 servers, 23 VM's, 5TB on iSCSI).

      I'm seriously considerring dumping it for KVM (Proxmox, specifically).

  • We're still on 5.5. It's been rock solid, but some managers thought Cisco's UCS VMWare based platform would be the way to go, so now we're running both. UCS for most of the VMs, and XenServer for the ones we care to keep running when UCS dies. We've been running the free license and missing out on some of the cool features of the XenServer 6.x branches... this might actually get me to upgrade things.

  • I've tried Xen. It is definitely not on the same level as VMWare. Perhaps this latest free version will allow clustering similar to KVM. The only benefit to Xen is that it will load on almost any hardware.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Xen and XenServer are really different. XenServer uses Xen, but it supports clustering, failover, ha etc...it's really not that different from esxi in my experience.

  • Define open source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 29, 2013 @11:18PM (#44145429)

    According to

    http://www.xenserver.org/about-xenserver-open-source/gplv2-license.html [xenserver.org]

    the licenses used include:

    AFL
    Artistic
    ASL 2.0
    BSD
    BSD-like
    LGPL (v2+, v2.1 , v2.1+, v3+, v2+ with linking exception, with linking exception)
    GPL (v2, v2+, v3, v3+, unspecified version, v2 with linking exception)
    OSL
    MIT (v1.1, unspecified version)
    OpenLDAP
    Zlib
    PSF

    That list also includes:

    Qlogic (link is to http://www.qlogic.com/supportx0/agreement.asp [qlogic.com] , but that's borked)
    Public Domain
    pubkey (artefact; refers to GPG keys for some reason)
    Proprietary
    Distributable
    Freeware

    I'm just a simple hyperchicken lawyer from Andromeda, but in my galaxy, proprietary licenses aren't 'open source' let alone Free software licenses. Same goes for freeware, public domain, etc.

    For the curious, the proprietary-licensed stuff includes software from Brocade Communications, Citrix Systems (!), Emulex, and QLogic.

    • by storkus (179708) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @11:39PM (#44145479)

      Mod parent up: I searched for almost 15 minutes trying to find the exact "free software" license it was changed to, and failed. But, boy, finding how to use XenControl (which runs on winblows only, BTW) to "license" your server (apparently that's what Citrix calls a support contract now) is very easy; oh, and this "license" is per socket now rather than per machine.

      • You can actually run Open XenCenter, which I have successfully gotten running on a Mac (for the record, it took me hours to get this working) and it's easier than that on Linux. You can also fully control it from the shell.

        The problem with XenServer it it's *amazingly* unreliable. Like terrifyingly so. We had 11 hard drive corruptions in 6 months under XenServer 6+, all on rock solid hardware (XenServer 5 was really good, though).

        It's expensive and painful. I won't be touching it again.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, you may be a simple hyperchicken lawyer, but you have a good eye. The problem is that you don't know what you are looking at.

      All the proprietary stuff is licensed to Citrix, Brocade, or QLogic, and it is most likely firmware. Proprietary software can still be licensed for distribution, but firmware is very often closed source. It is unfortunate for those who want to get very low to the hardware, but in reality, very few people demand the source code for their BIOS, firmware, and other devices.

      If you

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, many of the proprietary-licensed items are obviously firmware, but others are ambiguous: elxocmcore, conversion-plugin, brocade-bfautil, iscli, sm-closed, xenserver-transfer-vm, and xha, to be precise.

        Whether or not all the proprietary stuff is firmware, and whether anyone other than a 'purist' should care, Citrix still shouldn't say that XenServer is "Fully Open Source" as they do in their press release because it isn't. As an aside, I wonder if they could get in trouble with the SEC for misleadin

  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @11:43PM (#44145493)

    It's been a few years since Citrix started giving it away, free as in beer.

    They gave away what used to be called XenServer Enterprise functionality for free.

    What they don't include for free is:

    • "Hot" snapshot (Snapshot a virtual machine including its online RAM/Memory status) -- using VMware's hypervisor it's a free feature, Citrix makes you pay for it.
    • Cluster-wide robust per-target resource Storage and Network 'QoS' functionality
    • High availability. Not included with XenServer free as in beer; Citrix provides it as an addon.
    • Live migration of virtual machines between backend datastores (E.g. migration between SANs) without shutting the virtual machine down.
    • DRS-Like Workload balancing
    • True memory overcommitment -- you get a more limited technology, no transparent page sharing, no swapping via SSD RAM cache or page compression.
    • Role-based access control and AD integration for login to Xen servers
    • Resource pools with servers having different CPU versions. (Enhanced 'VMotion' Compatibility)
    • No distributed power management
    • Alarms and e-mail notifications.
    • Storage array offloaded cloning/copy/zero
    • No SR-IOV/GPU or other passthrough device support
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2013 @03:20AM (#44146079)

      I beg to differ, your list is not correct and seems to be based upon the previous 6.1 distribution model : what is now open-sourced as XenServer 6.2 is what was build as XCP (Xen Cloud Platform)

      I am not telling that everything in your list is now free, but for example HA is there, as are heterogenous pools (I used them on XCP 1.6) and live migration.

      http://www.xenserver.org/overview-xenserver-open-source-virtualization/open-source-virtualization-features.html

  • I have to thank Citrix XenServer. My company, which runs a virtual datacentre environment in Australia, used to be 100% XenServer based until version 6.1 came out. It was -so bad- and -so incredibly unreliable- and caused so many problems that I started looking around at alternatives. So technically, it's thanks to the terribleness that was XenServer 6.1 that we now run Hyper-V 2012 on all our servers and I am much happier. I used to like XenServer up until v6 but I am much happier on Microsoft's offering,
  • ganeti (Score:4, Interesting)

    by halfnerd (553515) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @05:46AM (#44146381) Homepage

    Check out ganeti as well: https://code.google.com/p/ganeti/ [google.com]

    Features
    Ganeti provides the following features for managed instances:

    Support for Xen virtualization:
    Support for PVM and HVM instances
    Live migration support
    Virtual console (on PVM) or VNC (on HVM) to control instances
    Support for virtio or emulated devices

    Support for KVM virtualization: (from Ganeti 2.0)
    Live migration support
    Support for fully virtualized instances
    Support for semi-virtualized instances (kernel residing on the host)
    Support for VNC or serial access
    Support for virtio or emulated devices

    Recommended cluster size 1-40 physical nodes

    Disk management:
    Plain LVM volumes
    Files (from Ganeti 2.0)
    across-the-network raid1 (using DRBD) for quick recovery in case of physical system failure

    Instance disk partitioning supported from Ganeti 2.0

    Export/import mechanism for backup purposes or migration between clusters, or

    Automated instance migration across clusters (since Ganeti 2.2)

    • by evilviper (135110)

      The most interesting thing about ganeti, IMHO, is the basically unlimited read speeds on inexpensive hardware, thanks to the way it operates with DRBD.

      With a SAN based solution (like almost all others virtualization solutions use) your disk I/O is limited to network speed, while even a single 7200RPM 1TB+ SATA drive can saturate a gigabit network. A SAN with just a few hard drives should saturate a fairly expensive 10GbE port. Bonding several is possible, but gets expensive very fast.

      Assuming a low-end se

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