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Xen upgrade brings open-source hypervisor to Azure, future AMD EPYCs, rPi 4, and even Nvidia AI development kit

Team suggests grabbing it now

The Xen project has popped out a new version, 4.14, of its widely used open-source hypervisor.

The headline feature is that it can run as a guest inside Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor. As Hyper-V powers Azure, the change means it's now possible to manage Xen VMs in Azure with the tools you use to manage Xen VMs elsewhere. That kind of consistency should come in handy for those looking to build hybrid clouds, or use Xen across different clouds.

The new version will also support future versions of AMD's EPYC server processors, a win for both parties.

This release improves live-patching in two ways, one of which is the ability to apply more fixes without disruption. The other is smarts that apply patches in sequence to help upgrades without breaking something along the way.

Linux stubdomains have been enhanced to emulate new devices, which should make for enhanced security as users virtualize networks to test more devices. New lightweight VM forks allow for fuzzing and/or introspection and again offer more test options to detect anything nasty that might be inside a VM.

Home-labbers who fancy running Xen on the pleasingly powerful Raspberry Pi 4 have been given full support, including for the 4GB and 8GB models.

Xen is also pleased to reveal support for Hypervisor FS, which it says "allows Xen to expose internal data and control knobs in a structured way, without the previous requirement of parsing log data or writing custom hypercalls to transport the data, and custom code to read it."

The Xen project has flagged the following as future enhancements:

  • Secret-free Xen – As side channel attacks continue to be a risk, Secret-free Xen will prevent memory from being mapped, which will allow for mitigations to be turned off, both increasing performance and erasing the data that was being sought after to begin with.
  • Golang bindings significantly expanded – This upcoming feature will make it easier to develop customer code on top of Xen using the language, Go.
  • Live migration without need for guest cooperation – Current users must have functioning Xen drivers in the guest to live-migrate. This upcoming feature allows users to migrate VMs with no drivers or broken drivers.

Chat over on the Xen-devel mailing list also includes news that the hypervisor will be ported to the Jetson Nano, Nvidia's AI development kit.

Xen's release post suggests swift adoption of this version.

"We recommend all users of the 4.11 stable series to update to this last point release to be made by the Xen Project team from this stable branch," wrote maintainer Jan Beulich.

If you decide to follow his advice, the project's repo is here. ®

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