Running XenServer 5 in a VM on Workstation 6.5

As I am very much interested in and working with Citrix XenApp and VMware ESX (Or should I start calling it vSphere?) I just had to try Citrix XenServer.

In the past I ran ESX in a virtual machine on VMware Workstation, so the first thing that came to my mind was: “That should work with XenServer too!”. I started Googling and rather quickly came across Arne’s blog post How To: XenEnterPrise 4 within a VM on Workstation 6. Quickly reading through it I just knew that this would work with the newer versions. Here is how!

To get things started, this is the software you will need (I ran it on my Windows Vista laptop with an Intel Centrino 2 with vPro):

  • VMware Workstation 6.5
  • Citrix XenServer 5.0 Update 3
  • Citrix XenServer Linux Guest Support (unfortunately you cannot run Microsoft Windows guests using XenServer this way)

Next up install VMware Workstation 6.5. Luckely for me – as a VCP – VMware is offering a free VMware Workstation license. If you do not have an official license you can register for a 30-day free evaluation.

VMware Workstation

Create a new virtual machine and select “Linux 2.6.x kernel 64-bit” as guest operating system. You need to give it at least 1024 Mb memory otherwise Citrix XenServer 5.0 will not install. So far this sounds easy. Now comes the tricky part. We need to adjust the virtual processor execution mode. In earlier versions of VMware Workstation you had to manually edit the VMX (configuration) file of the virtual machine. This has changed and is now simply available from the graphical user interface:

Processor Execution Mode

Edit the virtual machine settings and change the processor execution mode to: Intel VT-x or AMD-V.

Now that the virtual machine configuration is out of the way, we can start the Citrix XenServer installation. Mount the Citrix XenServer .ISO installation file and power it on. The installation will complete after a few simple questions and your very own “virtual” Xen will power on.

Power on Xen

Xen running

To manage your Citrix XenServer, install XenCenter on your local system. The graphical user interface is straightforward if you are used to VMware ESX.

XenCenter running

Now you can enjoy the true power of virtualization!

I have been playing around with my “virtual” Xen for a few weeks now and spent some time reading the freely available documentation. Maybe I will go and sit the exam A09 (Implementing Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition 5.0) which Citrix is offering for free during the Citrix iForum Benelux on June 10th 😉

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