Finishing up the FreeBSD Xen port

There’s been an active discustion on the FreeBSD Xen mailinglist about finishing the Xen port.

Xen is a virtual machine monitor for IA-32 (x86, x86-64), IA-64 and PowerPC 970 architectures. It allows several guest operating systems to be executed on the same computer hardware concurrently. Xen was initially created by the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and is now developed and maintained by the Xen community as free software, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL2). (Wikipedia)

The Xen port has never been complete and had some issues. A couple of developers have now decided to get together, get some hardware and financial support toegether to make it happen this time.

For over 3 years we’re now looking at a mostly-working, breaking, half-working port, breaking, half-working of FreeBSD to xen. Personally I think this is a very sad state, especially considering how well FreeBSD (-current, with patches) worked in Xen 2.

I wonder if starting a fundraiser might help this problem. I think we would have to scratch up enough for a month of kip’s (or someone else’s) time to see everything addressed and the xen patches finally being
merged in a same way like NetBSD did it.

Assuming that most people do not very much care about their dom0 OS, but strongly care for running FreeBSD (instead of Linux, NetBSD, Solaris flavours) for their virtualized servers, it would be the best way to go to make almost everyone happy.

… I’m completely sick of having to tell people … that “it used to be working but right now it’s not stable for production use, but it might actually build right now” and point them at one of the above OS according to
their needs, when actually they’d just love FreeBSD.

Honestly, I do not believe this state will *ever* get better without some massive effort and I’m very much looking forward to some discussion about this. It think the support should get -stable’d while the linux kids are still trying to make ZFS work stable :)

What it takes to get the port together is:

  • Initial work to bring -head’s Xen support back to scratch - primarily AFAIK a lot of SMP/PMAP attention
  • backporting that to 8-stable * the decision that Xen should be supported, and enough support showing up to make it happen
  • enough ongoing support and developer interest in keeping it up to date.

FreeBSD Xen wiki

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