Posts Tagged ‘Xen’

XenServer 6.5 PCI-Passthrough

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

While searching the web for how to perform PCI-Passthrough on XenServers, we mostly get info about previous versions. Since I have just completed setting up PCI-Passthrough on XenServer version 6. 5 (with recent update 8, just to give you some notion of the exact time frame), I am sharing it here.

Hardware: Cisco UCS blades, with fNIC. I wish to pass through two FC HBAs into a VM (it is going to act as a backup server, and I need it accessing the FC tape). While all my XenServers in this pool have four (4) FC HBAs, this particular XenServer node has six (6). I am intending the first four for SR communication and the remaining two for the PCI Passthrough process.

This is the output of ‘lspci | grep Fibre':

0b:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0c:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0d:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0e:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0f:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
10:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)

So, I want to pass through 0f:00.0 and 10:00.0. I had to add to /boot/extlinux.conf the following two entries after the word ‘splash’ and before the three dashes:

pciback.hide=(0f:00.0)(10:00.0) xen-pciback.hide=(0f:00.0)(10:00.0)

Initially, and contrary to the documentation, the parameter pciback.hide had no effect. As soon as the VM started, the command ‘multipath -l‘ would hang forever (or until hard reset to the host).

To apply the settings above, run (for a good measure. Don’t think we need it, but did not read anything about it): ‘extlinux -i /boot‘ and then reboot.

Now, when the host is back, we need to add the devices to the VM. Make sure that the VM is in ‘off’ state before doing that. Your command would look like this:

xe vm-param-set uuid=<VM UUID> other-config:pci=0/0000:0f:00.0,0/0000:10:00.0

The expression ‘0/0000′ is required. You can search for its purpose, however, in most cases, your value would look exactly like mine – ‘0/0000′

Since my VM is Windows, here it almost ends: Start the VM, and if it boots correctly, Install Cisco VIC into it, as if it were a physical host. You’re done.

XenServer and its damn too small system disks

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

I love XenServer. I love the product, I believe it to be a very good answer for SMBs, and enterprises. It lacks on external support, true, but the price tag for many of the ‘external capabilities’ on VMware, for instance, are very high, so many SMBs, especially, learn to live without them. XenServer gives a nice pack of features, at a very reasonable price.

One of the missing features is the management packs of hardware vendors, such as HP, Dell and IBM. Well, HP does have something, and its installation is always some sort of a challenge, but they do, so scratch that. Others, however, do not supply management packs. The bright side is that with Domain0 being a full featured i386 Centos 5 distribution, I can install the Centos/RHEL management packs, and have a ball. This brings us to another challenge there – the size of the system disk (root partition) by default is too small – 4GB, and while it works quite well without any external components, it tends to get filled very fast with external packages installed, like Dell tools, etc. Not only that, but on a system with many patches the patches backups take their toll, and consume valuable space. While my solution will not work for those who aim at the smallest possible space, such as SD or Disk-on-Key for the XenServer OS, it aims for the most of us all, where the system resides on several tenths of gigabytes at least, and is capable of sustaining the ‘loss’ of additional 4GB. This process modifies the install.img file, and authors the CD as a new one, your own privately-modified instance of XenServer installation. Mind you that this change will be effective only for new installations. I have not tested this as the upgrade path for existing systems, although I believe no harm will be done to those who upgrade. Also – it was performed and tested on XenServer 6.2, and not 6.2 SP1, or prior versions, although I believe that the process should look pretty similar in nature.

You will need a Linux machine to perform this operation, end to end. You could probably use some Windows applications on the way, but I have no idea as to which or what.

Step one: Open the ISO, and copy it to somewhere useful (assume /tmp is useful):

mkdir /tmp/ISO
mkdir /tmp/RW
mount -o loop /path/to/XenServer-6.2.0-install-cd.iso /tmp/ISO
cd /tmp/ISOtar cf – . | ( cd /tmp/RW ; tar xf – )

Step two: Extract the contents of the install.img file in the root of the CDROM:

mkdir /tmp/install
cd /tmp/install
cat /tmp/RW/install.img | gzip -dc | cpio -id

Step three: Edit the contents of the definitions file:

vi opt/xensource/installer/

Change the value of ‘root_size’ to something to your taste. Mind you that with 4GB it was tight, but still usable, even with additional 3rd party tools, so don’t become greedy. I defined it to be 6GB (6144)

Step four: Wrap it up:

cd /tmp/install ; find . | cpio -o -H newc | gzip -9 > /tmp/RW/install.img

Step five: Author the CD, and prepare it to be burned:

cd /tmp/RW
mkisofs -J -T -o /share/temp/XenServer-6.2-modified.iso -V “XenServer 6.2″ -volset “XenServer 6.2″ -A “XenServer 6.2″
-b boot/isolinux/isolinux.bin -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -R -m TRANS.TBL .

You now have a file called ‘XenServer-6.2-modified.iso’ in your /tmp, which will install your XenServer with the disk partition size you have set it to install. Cheers.

BTW, and to make it entirely clear – I cannot be held responsible to any damage caused to any system you tweaked using this (or for that matter – any other) guide I published.

Enjoy your XenServer’s new apartment!

Attach USB disks to XenServer VM Guest

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

There is a very nice script for Windows dealing with attaching XenServer USB disk to a guest. It can be found here.

This script has several problems, as I see it. The first – this is a Windows batch script, which is a very limited language, and it can handle only a single VDI disk in the SR group called “Removable Storage”.

As I am a *nix guy, and can hardly handle Windows batch scripts, I have rewritten this script to run from Linux CLI (focused on running from the XenServer Domain0), and allowed it to handle multiple USB disks. My assumption is that running this script will map/unmap *all* local USB disks to the VM.

Following downloading this script, you should make sure it is executable, and run it with the arguments “attach” or “detach”, per your needs.

And here it is:

# This script will map USB devices to a specific VM
# Written by Ez-Aton, , with the concepts
# taken from
# and

# Variables
# Need to change them to match your own!
DEVICE_NAMES="hdc hde" # Local disk mapping for the VM

function attach() {
        # Here we attach the disks
        # Check if storage is attached to VBD
        VBDS=`$XE vdi-list sr-uuid=${REMOVABLE_SR_UUID} params=vbd-uuids --minimal | tr , ' '`
        if [ `echo $VBDS | wc -w` -ne 0 ]
                echo "Disks are allready attached. Check VBD $VBDS for details"
                exit 1
        # Get devices!
        VDIS=`$XE vdi-list sr-uuid=${REMOVABLE_SR_UUID} --minimal | tr , ' '`
        for i in $VDIS
                VBD=`$XE vbd-create vm-uuid=${VM_UUID} device=${DEVICE_NAMES[$INDEX]} vdi-uuid=${i}`
                if [ $? -ne 0 ]
                        echo "Failed to connect $i to ${DEVICE_NAMES[$INDEX]}"
                        exit 2
                $XE vbd-plug uuid=$VBD
                if [ $? -ne 0 ]
                        echo "Failed to plug $VBD"
                        exit 3
                let INDEX++

function detach() {
        # Here we detach the disks
        VBDS=`$XE vdi-list sr-uuid=${REMOVABLE_SR_UUID} params=vbd-uuids --minimal | tr , ' '`
        for i in $VBDS
                $XE vbd-unplug uuid=${i}
                $XE vbd-destroy uuid=${i}
        echo "Storage Detached from VM"
case "$1" in
        attach) attach
        detach) detach
        *)      echo "Usage: $0 [attach|detach]"
                exit 1



Bonding + VLAN tagging + Bridge – updated

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

In the past I hacked around a problem with the order of starting (and with several bugs) a network stack combined of network bonding (teaming) + VLAN tagging, and then with network bridging (aka – Xen bridges). This kind of setup is very useful for introducing VLAN networks to guest VMs. This works well on Xen (community, Server), however, on RHEL/Centos 5 versions, the startup scripts (ifup and ifup-eth) are buggy, and do not handle this operation correctly. It means that, depending on the update release you use, results might vary from “everything works” to “I get bridges without VLANs” to “I get VLANs without bridges”.

I have hacked a solution in the past, modifying /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-eth and fixing some bugs in it, however, both maintaining the fix on every release of ‘initscripts’ package has proven, well, not to happen…

So, instead, I present you with a smarter solution, better adept to updates supplied from time to time by RedHat or Centos, using predefined ‘hooks’ in the ifup scripts.

Create the file /sbin/ifup-pre-local with the following contents:


# $1 is the config file
# $2 is not interesting
# We will start the vlan bonding before any bridge


[ -z "$1" ] && exit 0
. $1

if [ "${DEVICE%%[0-9]*}" == "xenbr" ]
    for device in $(LANG=C egrep -l "^[[:space:]]*BRIDGE="?${DEVICE}"?" /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-*) ; do
        /sbin/ifup $device

You can download this scrpit. Don’t forget to change it to be executable. It will call ifup for any parent device of xenbr* device called at. If the parent device is already up, no harm is done. If the parent device is not up, it will be brought up, and then the xenbr device can start normally.

Citrix XenServer 6.0 enable VM autostart

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Unlike previous versions, VMs do not have a visible property in the GUI allowing autostart. This has been claimed to collide with the HA function of the licensed version. While I believe there is a more elegant way of doing that (like – ignoring this property if HA is enabled), the following method can allow your free XenServer allow autostart of VMs:
xe pool-param-set uuid=UUID other-config:auto_poweron=true

xe vm-param-set uuid=UUID other-config:auto_poweron=true

Replace the relevant UUID values with the true required value. A small one-liner script to handle the 2nd part (enabling it for the VMs), which would enable autostart for ALL vms:

for i in `xe vm-list is-control-domain=false –minimal | tr , ‘  ‘`; do xe vm-param-set uuid=$i other-config:auto_poweron=true; done