XenServer 6 Released to the Web

XenServer 6.0 has been successfully Released-To-Web and is now available for download here. Full release information here : http://blogs.citrix.com/2011/09/30/xenserver-6-0-is-here/ and more info here – http://www.citrix.com/English/ps2/products/feature.asp?contentID=1681747#top

XenServer 6.0 Release Notes – http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX130418

XenServer 6.0 Feature Matrix


What’s New

  • XenServer 6 Configuration limits – http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX131047
  • Integrated Site Recovery (Disaster Recovery) – Remote data replication between storage arrays with fast recovery and failback capabilities. Integrated Site Recovery replaces StorageLink Gateway Site Recovery used in previous versions, removes the Windows VM requirement, and works with any iSCSI or Hardware HBA storage repository.
  • Integrated StorageLink – Access to use existing storage array-based features such as data replication, de-duplication, snapshot and cloning. Replaces the StorageLink Gateway technology used in previous editions and removes requirement to run a Windows VM with the StorageLink components.
  • GPU Pass-Through – Enables a physical GPU to be assigned to a VM providing high-end graphics. Allows applications to leverage GPU instructions in XenDesktop VDI deployments with HDX 3D Pro.
  • Virtual Appliance Support (vApp) –  Ability to create multi-VM and boot sequenced virtual appliances (vApps) that integrate with Integrated Site Recovery and High Availability. vApps can be easily imported and exported using the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard.
  • Rolling Pool Upgrade Wizard –  Simplify upgrades (automated or semi-automated) to XenServer 6.0 with a wizard that performs pre-checks with a step-by-step process that blocks unsupported upgrades.
  • Microsoft SCVMM & SCOM Support –  Manage XenServer hosts and VMs with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012. System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 will be also able to manage and monitor XenServer hosts and VMs. System Center integration is available with a special supplemental pack from Citrix. For more information refer to the Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager page.
  • Distributed Virtual Switch Improvements –  New fail safe mode which allows Cross-Server Private Networks, ACLs, QoS, RSPAN and Netflow settings to still be applied to a running VM in the event of vSwitch Controller failure.
  • Increased Performance and Scale –  Supported limits have been increased to 1 TB memory for XenServer hosts, and 16 virtual processors and up to 128 GB virtual memory for VMs. Improved XenTools with smaller footprint.
  • Networking Improvements – Open vSwitch is now the default networking stack in XenServer 6.0 and now provides formal support for Active-Backup NIC bonding.
  • VM Import & Export Improvements – Full support for VM disk and OVF appliance imports directly from XenCenter with the ability to change VM parameters (virtual processor, virtual memory, virtual interfaces, and target storage repository) with the Import wizard. Full OVF import support for XenServer, XenConvert and VMware.
  • SR-IOV Improvements – Improved scalability and certification with the SR-IOV Test Kit. Experimental SR-IOV with XenMotion support with Solarflare SR-IOV adapters.
  • Simplified Installer – Host installations only require a single ISO.
  • Enhanced Guest OS Support – Support for Ubuntu 10.04 (32/64-bit). Updated support for Debian Squeeze 6.0 64-bit, Oracle Enterprise Linux 6.0 (32/64-bit) and SLES 10 SP4 (32/64-bit). Experimental VM templates for CentOS 6.0 (32/64-bit), Ubuntu 10.10 (32/64-bit) and Solaris 10.
  • Workload Balancing Improvements. New, ready-to-use Linux-based virtual appliance with a smaller footprint replaces the Windows-based virtual appliance and eliminates the Windows licensing dependency.
  • XenDesktop Enhancements –  HDX enhancements for optimized user experience with virtual desktops, GPU Pass-Through, and increased VM and XenServer host limits.
  • VM Protection & Recovery – Now available for Advanced, Enterprise and Platinum Edition customers.
  • NFS Support for High Availability – HA Heartbeat disk can now reside on a NFS storage repository.
  • XenCenter Improvements – XenCenter operations now run in parallel, and XenCenter will be available in Japanese and Simplified Chinese (ETA Q4 2011).
  • Host Architectural Improvements – XenServer 6.0 now runs on the Xen 4.1 hypervisor, provides GPT support and a smaller, more scalable Dom0.

More details on this release can be found in the XenServer 6.0 Product Documentation.

XenConvert 2.4 has been successfully Released-To-Web and is now available for download here.

XenConvert 2.4 adds the following improvements :

  • XenServer 6.0 support
  • Provisioning Services 6.0 support
  • Select target storage repositories during conversion
  • Copy files in use during Windows Server 2003 conversions

XenConvert virtual-to-virtual (V2V) functionality is now included in XenCenter and complements the new virtual appliance and disk image import feature in XenServer 6.0.

Provisioning Services 6.0 is now available for download here.

Blog entry with a description of the new single image management features in this release here.

New improvements include:

  • Integrated vDisk Versioning
  • Automated vDisk updates
  • Support for Replicated vDisk Storage
  • XenDesktop and Streamed VM Setup Wizards

Xen 4.1 supports the following new features:

  • A re-architected XL toolstack that is functionally nearly equivalent to XM/XEND
  • Prototype credit2 scheduler designed for latency-sensitive workloads and very large systems
  • CPU Pools for advanced partitioning
  • Support for large systems (>255 processors and 1GB/2MB super page support)
  • Support for x86 Advanced Vector eXtension (AVX)
  • New Memory Access API enabling integration of 3rd party security solutions into Xen virtualized environments
  • Even better stability through our new automated regression tests

Further information can be found in the release notes.

XL Toolstack: Xen 4.1 includes a re-architected toolstack, that is based on the new libxenlightlibrary, providing a simple and robust API for toolstacks. XL is functionally equivalent and almost entirely backwards compatible with existing XM domain configuration files. The XEND toolstack remains supported in Xen 4.1 however we strongly recommend that users upgrade to XL. For more information see the Migration Guide. Projects are underway to port XCP’s xapi and libvirt to the new libxenlight library.

Credit2 Scheduler: The credit1 scheduler has served Xen well for many years.  But it has several weaknesses, including working poorly for latency-sensitive workloads, such as network traffic and audio. The credit2 scheduler is a complete rewrite, designed with latency-sensitive workloads and very large numbers of CPUs in mind. We are still calling it a prototype scheduler as the algorithm needs more work before it will be ready to become the main scheduler. However it is stable and will perform better for some workloads than credit1.

CPU pools: The default credit scheduler provides limited mechanisms (pinning VMs to CPUs and using weights) to partition a machine and allocate CPUs to VMs. CPU pools provide a more powerful and easy to use way to partition a machine: the physical CPUs of a machine are divided into pools.  Each CPU pool runs its own scheduler and each running VM is assigned to one pool.   This not only allows a more robust and user friendly way to partition a machine, but it allows using different schedulers for different pools, depending on which scheduler works best for that workload.

Large Systems: Xen 4.1 has been extended and optimized to take advantage of new hardware features, increasing performance and scalability in particular for large systems. Xen now supports the Intel x2APIC architecture and is able to support systems with more than 255 CPUs. Further, support for EPT/VTd 1GB/2MB super pages has been added to Xen, reducing the TLB overhead. EPT/VTd page table sharing simplifies the support for Intel’s IOMMU by allowing the CPU’s Enhanced Page Table to be directly utilized by the VTd IOMMU. Timer drift has been eliminated through TSC-deadline timer support that provides a per-processor timer tick.

Advanced Vector eXtension (AVX): Support for xsave and xrestor floating point instructions has been added, enabling Xen guests to utilize AVX instructions available on newer Intel processors.

Memory Access API: The mem_access API has been added to enable suitably privileged domains to intercept and handle memory faults. This extents Xen’s security features in a new direction and enables third parties to invoke malware detection software or other security solutions on demand from outside the virtual machine.

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