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  3. Definitive Guide to the Xen Hypervisor, The

Definitive Guide to the Xen Hypervisor, The, 1st edition

  • David Chisnall

Published by Prentice Hall (November 9th 2007) - Copyright © 2008

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Definitive Guide to the Xen Hypervisor, The

ISBN-13: 9780132799157

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“The Xen hypervisor has become an incredibly strategic resource for the industry, as the focal point of innovation in cross-platform virtualization technology. David’s book will play a key role in helping the Xen community and ecosystem to grow.”

Simon Crosby, CTO, XenSource


An Under-the-Hood Guide to the Power of Xen Hypervisor Internals

The Definitive Guide to the Xen Hypervisor is a comprehensive handbook on the inner workings of XenSource’s powerful open source paravirtualization solution. From architecture to kernel internals, author David Chisnall exposes key code components and shows you how the technology works, providing the essential information you need to fully harness and exploit the Xen hypervisor to develop cost-effective, highperformance Linux and Windows virtual environments.


Granted exclusive access to the XenSource team, Chisnall lays down a solid framework with overviews of virtualization and the design philosophy behind the Xen hypervisor. Next, Chisnall takes you on an in-depth exploration of the hypervisor’s architecture, interfaces, device support, management tools, and internals—including key information for developers who want to optimize applications for virtual environments. He reveals the power and pitfalls of Xen in real-world examples and includes hands-on exercises, so you gain valuable experience as you learn.

This insightful resource gives you a detailed picture of how all the pieces of the Xen hypervisor fit and work together, setting you on the path to building and implementing a streamlined, cost-efficient virtual enterprise.

Coverage includes

  • Understanding the Xen virtual architecture

  • Using shared info pages, grant tables, and the memory management subsystem

  • Interpreting Xen’s abstract device interfaces

  • Configuring and managing device support, including event channels, monitoring with XenStore, supporting core devices, and adding new device types

  • Navigating the inner workings of the Xen API and userspace tools

  • Coordinating virtual machines with the Scheduler Interface and API, and adding a new scheduler

  • Securing near-native speed on guest machines using HVM

  • Planning for future needs, including porting, power management, new devices, and unusual architectures

Table of contents

>List of Figures xi

List of Tables xiii

Foreword xv

Preface xvii


Part I: The Xen Virtual Machine 1


Chapter 1: The State of Virtualization 3

1.1 What Is Virtualization? 3

1.2 Why Virtualize? 7

1.3 The First Virtual Machine 8

1.4 The Problem of x86 9

1.5 Some Solutions 9

1.6 The Xen Philosophy 15

1.7 The Xen Architecture 16


Chapter 2: Exploring the Xen Virtual Architecture 27

2.1 Booting as a Paravirtualized Guest 27

2.2 Restricting Operations with Privilege Rings 28

2.3 Replacing Privileged Instructions with Hypercalls 30

2.4 Exploring the Xen Event Model 33

2.5 Communicating with Shared Memory 34

2.6 Split Device Driver Model 35

2.7 The VM Lifecycle 37

2.8 Exercise: The Simplest Xen Kernel 38


Chapter 3: Understanding Shared Info Pages 47

3.1 Retrieving Boot Time Info 47

3.2 The Shared Info Page 51

3.3 Time Keeping in Xen 53

3.4 Exercise: Implementing gettimeofday() 54


Chapter 4: Using Grant Tables 59

4.1 Sharing Memory 59

4.2 Device I/O Rings 65

4.3 Granting and Revoking Permissions 66

4.4 Exercise: Mapping a Granted Page 69

4.5 Exercise: Sharing Memory between VMs 71


Chapter 5: Understanding Xen Memory Management 75

5.1 Managing Memory with x86 75

5.2 Pseudo-Physical Memory Model 78

5.3 Segmenting on 32-bit x86 80

5.4 Using Xen Memory Assists 82

5.5 Controlling Memory Usage with the Balloon Driver 84

5.6 Other Memory Operations 86

5.7 Updating the Page Tables 89

5.8 Exercise: Mapping the Shared Info Page 95


Part II: Device I/O 97


Chapter 6: Understanding Device Drivers 99

6.1 The Split Driver Model 100

6.2 Moving Drivers out of Domain 0 102

6.3 Understanding Shared Memory Ring Buffers 103

6.4 Connecting Devices with XenBus 109

6.5 Handling Notifications from Events 111

6.6 Configuring via the XenStore 112

6.7 Exercise: The Console Device 112


Chapter 7: Using Event Channels 119

7.1 Events and Interrupts 119

7.2 Handling Traps 120

7.3 Event Types 123

7.4 Requesting Events 124

7.5 Binding an Event Channel to a VCPU 127


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