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NAME

     xen — Xen Hypervisor Guest (DomU) Support

SYNOPSIS

     To compile para-virtualized (PV) Xen guest support into an i386 kernel, place the following
     lines in your kernel configuration file:

           options PAE
           options XEN
           nooptions NATIVE

     To compile hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM) Xen guest support with para-virtualized
     drivers into an amd64 kernel, place the following lines in your kernel configuration file:

           options XENHVM
           device xenpci

DESCRIPTION

     The Xen Hypervisor allows multiple virtual machines to be run on a single computer system.
     When first released, Xen required that i386 kernels be compiled "para-virtualized" as the
     x86 instruction set was not fully virtualizable.  Primarily, para-virtualization modifies
     the virtual memory system to use hypervisor calls (hypercalls) rather than direct hardware
     instructions to modify the TLB, although para-virtualized device drivers were also required
     to access resources such as virtual network interfaces and disk devices.

     With later instruction set extensions from AMD and Intel to support fully virtualizable
     instructions, unmodified virtual memory systems can also be supported; this is referred to
     as hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM).  HVM configurations may either rely on
     transparently emulated hardware peripherals, or para-virtualized drivers, which are aware of
     virtualization, and hence able to optimize certain behaviors to improve performance or
     semantics.

     FreeBSD supports a fully para-virtualized (PV) kernel on the i386 architecture using options
     XEN and nooptions NATIVE; currently, this requires use of a PAE kernel, enabled via options
     PAE.

     FreeBSD supports hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM) on both the i386 and amd64 kernels;
     however, PV device drivers with an HVM kernel are only supported on the amd64 architecture,
     and require options XENHVM and device xenpci.

     Para-virtualized device drivers are required in order to support certain functionality, such
     as processing management requests, returning idle physical memory pages to the hypervisor,
     etc.

   Xen DomU device drivers
     Xen para-virtualized drivers are automatically added to the kernel if a PV kernel is
     compiled using options XEN; for HVM environments, options XENHVM and device xenpci are
     required.  The follow drivers are supported:

           balloon   Allow physical memory pages to be returned to the hypervisor as a result of
                     manual tuning or automatic policy.

           blkback   Exports local block devices or files to other Xen domains where they can
                     then be imported via blkfront.

           blkfront  Import block devices from other Xen domains as local block devices, to be
                     used for file systems, swap, etc.

           console   Export the low-level system console via the Xen console service.

           control   Process management operations from Domain 0, including power off, reboot,
                     suspend, crash, and halt requests.

           evtchn    Expose Xen events via the /dev/xen/evtchn special device.

           netback   Export local network interfaces to other Xen domains where they can be
                     imported via netfront.

           netfront  Import network interfaces from other Xen domains as local network
                     interfaces, which may be used for IPv4, IPv6, etc.

           pcifront  Allow physical PCI devices to be passed through into a PV domain.

           xenpci    Represents the Xen PCI device, an emulated PCI device that is exposed to HVM
                     domains.  This device allows detection of the Xen hypervisor, and provides
                     interrupt and shared memory services required to interact with the
                     hypervisor.

   Performance considerations
     In general, PV drivers will perform better than emulated hardware, and are the recommended
     configuration for HVM installations.

     Using a hypervisor introduces a second layer of scheduling that may limit the effectiveness
     of certain FreeBSD scheduling optimisations.  Among these is adaptive locking, which is no
     longer able to determine whether a thread holding a lock is in execution.  It is recommended
     that adaptive locking be disabled when using Xen:

           options NO_ADAPTIVE_MUTEXES
           options NO_ADAPTIVE_RWLOCKS
           options NO_ADAPTIVE_SX

SEE ALSO

     pae(4)

HISTORY

     Support for xen first appeared in FreeBSD 8.1.

AUTHORS

     FreeBSD support for Xen was first added by Kip Macy <kmacy@FreeBSD.org> and Doug Rabson
     <dfr@FreeBSD.org>.  Further refinements were made by Justin Gibbs <gibbs@FreeBSD.org>,
     Adrian Chadd <adrian@FreeBSD.org>, and Colin Percival <cperciva@FreeBSD.org>.  This manual
     page was written by Robert Watson <rwatson@FreeBSD.org>.

BUGS

     FreeBSD is only able to run as a Xen guest (DomU) and not as a Xen host (Dom0).

     A fully para-virtualized (PV) kernel is only supported on i386, and not amd64.

     Para-virtualized drivers under hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM) kernel are only
     supported on amd64, not i386.

     As of this release, Xen PV DomU support is not heavily tested; instability has been reported
     during VM migration of PV kernels.

     Certain PV driver features, such as the balloon driver, are under-exercised.