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XenServer Ely Alpha 1 Available

Hear ye, hear ye… we are pleased to announce that an alpha release of XenServer Project Ely is now available for download! After Dundee (7.0), we've come a little closer to Cambridge (the birthplace of Xen) for our codename, as the city of Ely is just up the road.

 
Since releasing version 7.0 in May, the XenServer engineering team has been working fervently to prepare the platform with the latest innovations in server virtualization technology. As a precursor, a pre-release containing the prerequisites for enabling a number of powerful (and really cool!) new features has been made available for download from the pre-release page.
 

What's In it?

 

The following is a brief description of some of the feature-prerequisites included in this pre-release:

 

Xen 4.7:  This release of Xen adds support for "live-patching" of the Xen hypervisor, allowing issues to be patched without requiring a host reboot. In this alpha release there is no functionality for you to test in this area, but we thought it was worth telling you about none the less. Xen 4.7 also includes various performance improvements, and updates to the virtual machine introspection code (surfaced in XenServer as Direct Inspect).

 

Kernel 4.4: Updated kernel to support future feature considerations. All device drivers will be at the upstream versions; we'll be updating these with drops direct from the hardware vendors as we go through the development cycle.

 

VM import/export performance: a longstanding request from our user community, we've worked to improve the import/export speeds of VMs, and Ely alpha 1 now averages 2x faster than the previous version.

 

What We'd Like Help With

 

The purpose of this alpha release is really to make sure that a variety of hardware works with project Ely. Because we've updated core platform components (Xen and the Dom0 kernel), it's always important to check on hardware that we don’t have in our QA labs that all is well. Thus, the more people who can download this build, install, and run a couple of VMs to check all is well the better.

 

Additionally, we've been working with the community (over on XSO-445) on improving VM import/export performance: we'd like to see whether the improvements we've seen in our tests are what you see too. If they're not, we can figure out why and fix it :-).

 

Upgrading

 

This is pre-release software, not for production use. Upgrades from XenServer 7.0 should work fine, but it goes without saying that you should ensure you back up any critical data.

 

Reporting Bugs

 

We encourage visitors to download the pre-release and provide us with your feedback. If you do find a problem, please head over to the bug tracker and file a ticket. Please be sure to include a server status report!

 

Now that we've moved up to a new pre-release project, it's time to remove the XS 6.5 SP1 fix version from the bug tracker, in order that we keep it tidy. You'll see an "Ely alpha" affects version is now present instead.

 

What Next?

 

Stay tuned for another pre-release build in the near future: as you may have heard, we've been keeping busy!

 
As always, we look forward to working with the XenServer community to make the next major release of XenServer the best version ever!

 

Cheers!

 

Andy M.

Senior Solutions Architect - XenServer PM

 

Making a difference to the next release
XenServer Hotfix XS65ESP1035 Released

Related Posts

 

Comments 39

David Reade on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 15:56

The download link for the release notes does not work. For "info.citrite.net" I'm getting "server not found". Is this a link to an internal resource?

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The download link for the release notes does not work. For "info.citrite.net" I'm getting "server not found". Is this a link to an internal resource?
Tobias Kreidl on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 06:41

Always nice to see XenServer improvements and added features. The new kernel and live patching are nice. The vm-export/import gain is, however, a disappointment compared to what was achieved in earlier tests (5x vs. 2x) and hopefully will be revisited. Why this was cut back so much never got clarified. I hope that efforts can be maintained to bring back that sort of performance improvement in the future.

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Always nice to see XenServer improvements and added features. The new kernel and live patching are nice. The vm-export/import gain is, however, a disappointment compared to what was achieved in earlier tests (5x vs. 2x) and hopefully will be revisited. Why this was cut back so much never got clarified. I hope that efforts can be maintained to bring back that sort of performance improvement in the future.
Willem Boterenbrood on Friday, 14 October 2016 07:13

Tobias,

In my XenServer 7.0 test environment I see a large improvement of VM export speed compared to my 6.5SP1 live environment. So if Ely adds an additional 2x improvement over 7.0 it is still very nice I think.

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Tobias, In my XenServer 7.0 test environment I see a large improvement of VM export speed compared to my 6.5SP1 live environment. So if Ely adds an additional 2x improvement over 7.0 it is still very nice I think.
Daniel on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 14:04

Add in XenCenter more features... for example, Live Coalesce (Avoiding VHD Parents), more features for live migration of VMs, expand SR Repositorys, etc ...

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Add in XenCenter more features... for example, Live Coalesce (Avoiding VHD Parents), more features for live migration of VMs, expand SR Repositorys, etc ...
David Cottingham on Thursday, 13 October 2016 00:19

Hi Daniel,

When you say live migration of VMs, over and above what's already there (shared nothing migration/storage motion), what would you like to see?

BTW, SR expansion is already possible in XS 7.0: see section 5.7.3 of http://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenserver/xenserver-7-0/downloads/xenserver-7-0-administrators-guide.pdf .

Also interested to hear what XenCenter features you'd like to see (e.g. topology view?).

Understood re live coalescing.

Thanks,

David.

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Hi Daniel, When you say live migration of VMs, over and above what's already there (shared nothing migration/storage motion), what would you like to see? BTW, SR expansion is already possible in XS 7.0: see section 5.7.3 of http://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenserver/xenserver-7-0/downloads/xenserver-7-0-administrators-guide.pdf . Also interested to hear what XenCenter features you'd like to see (e.g. topology view?). Understood re live coalescing. Thanks, David.
Daniel on Thursday, 13 October 2016 12:06

In addition to all the new features, what we would like is for more resources also in XenCenter, always use the CLI is not always a good option and any wrong operation may cause problems.

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In addition to all the new features, what we would like is for more resources also in XenCenter, always use the CLI is not always a good option and any wrong operation may cause problems.
David Cottingham on Thursday, 13 October 2016 12:17

Understood -- would be great if you can give me a list of the ones you're looking for; very keen to do this (actually building up a list at the moment).

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Understood -- would be great if you can give me a list of the ones you're looking for; very keen to do this (actually building up a list at the moment).
Sam McLeod on Thursday, 13 October 2016 01:09

Bloody brilliant!

So glad to hear about Kernel 4.4 and Xen's Live-Patching - that will make a real difference for us.

One thing I wanted to request: Would you please make sure that the kernel is booted with the options 'scsi_mod.use_blk_mq=1 dm_mod.use_blk_mq=1', this will allow kernel 4 to use the more modern SCSI backend which is significantly more performance (and safer) that the old single que subsystem.

1
Bloody brilliant! So glad to hear about Kernel 4.4 and Xen's Live-Patching - that will make a real difference for us. One thing I wanted to request: Would you please make sure that the kernel is booted with the options 'scsi_mod.use_blk_mq=1 dm_mod.use_blk_mq=1', this will allow kernel 4 to use the more modern SCSI backend which is [u]significantly[/u] more performance (and safer) that the old single que subsystem.
Tobias Kreidl on Friday, 14 October 2016 15:04

A couple of things. For one, I've encouraged those with comments on issues posted at http://discussions.citrix.com/topic/381782-new-xenserver-7x-pre-release-available-for-download/ to submit error reports to https://bugs.xenserver.org/ so they are brought to the attention of the right people.
As to desired features, a simple tree diagram for storage starting with the SR, showinf the associated PBDs, and down to the VBD and VDI layer would be great, in particular the parents of VDIs and if any VDI is disassociated with a parent (an orphan) which would make the identification and cleanup of storage components much easier and present a much clearer overview of the storage structure. A large number of issues with XS are storage-related, so making the structure and integrity of storage clearer through a diagram would be very helpful. I'd be happy to sketch out an image of thoughts on this, if that would be helpful, but something like a basic dendrogram would suffice. You could flag an orphaned VDI, which would make cleanup much easier as well as seeing if a storage migration or disconnecting storage were held up by an issue of that sort of nature.

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A couple of things. For one, I've encouraged those with comments on issues posted at http://discussions.citrix.com/topic/381782-new-xenserver-7x-pre-release-available-for-download/ to submit error reports to https://bugs.xenserver.org/ so they are brought to the attention of the right people. As to desired features, a simple tree diagram for storage starting with the SR, showinf the associated PBDs, and down to the VBD and VDI layer would be great, in particular the parents of VDIs and if any VDI is disassociated with a parent (an orphan) which would make the identification and cleanup of storage components much easier and present a much clearer overview of the storage structure. A large number of issues with XS are storage-related, so making the structure and integrity of storage clearer through a diagram would be very helpful. I'd be happy to sketch out an image of thoughts on this, if that would be helpful, but something like a basic dendrogram would suffice. You could flag an orphaned VDI, which would make cleanup much easier as well as seeing if a storage migration or disconnecting storage were held up by an issue of that sort of nature.
Guest - fbifido on Friday, 21 October 2016 18:28

VHDX - for VM would be nice.

thanks.

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VHDX - for VM would be nice. thanks.
Tobias Kreidl on Friday, 14 October 2016 15:16

Also, regarding Sam's comments, if you take a look at https://mahmoudhatem.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/oracle-uek-4-where-is-my-io-scheduler-none-multi-queue-model-blk-mq/ these setting apparently preclude the ability to configure the I/O scheduler (it gets set to "none"). While the blk_mq mechanism will greatly help SSD drives, what's the impact on conventional spinning disk storage (was this tested to make sure there was no negative impact)? In any case, moving to a newer 4.4 kernel is definitely a great step and the on-the-fly patching will be a huge benefit. Finally, if desired, the options scsi_mod.use_blk_mq=1 and dm_mod.use_blk_mq=1 could be readily inserted as boot flags and customized as such.

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Also, regarding Sam's comments, if you take a look at https://mahmoudhatem.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/oracle-uek-4-where-is-my-io-scheduler-none-multi-queue-model-blk-mq/ these setting apparently preclude the ability to configure the I/O scheduler (it gets set to "none"). While the blk_mq mechanism will greatly help SSD drives, what's the impact on conventional spinning disk storage (was this tested to make sure there was no negative impact)? In any case, moving to a newer 4.4 kernel is definitely a great step and the on-the-fly patching will be a huge benefit. Finally, if desired, the options scsi_mod.use_blk_mq=1 and dm_mod.use_blk_mq=1 could be readily inserted as boot flags and customized as such.
Daniel on Saturday, 15 October 2016 12:43

This feature has been removed in the final release right? It would be interesting to have it again in this version, is a much-requested feature, especially on migrations.

http://xenserver.org/blog/entry/storage-xenmotion-in-dundee.html

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This feature has been removed in the final release right? It would be interesting to have it again in this version, is a much-requested feature, especially on migrations. http://xenserver.org/blog/entry/storage-xenmotion-in-dundee.html
Guest - Jiri Cerny on Sunday, 16 October 2016 23:07

No, in XS 7.0 Storage Xenmotion works as described in URL you linked (much improved compared to 6.5).

This one has been removed: http://xenserver.org/blog/entry/dundee-beta-3-released.html

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No, in XS 7.0 Storage Xenmotion works as described in URL you linked (much improved compared to 6.5). This one has been removed: http://xenserver.org/blog/entry/dundee-beta-3-released.html
Tobias Kreidl on Sunday, 16 October 2016 18:24

@Daniel: Storage XenMotion has been around for some time now and works fine, even under XS 6.5. There were some improvements already built into XS 7.0, such as removing the constraint - I believe - on having just one snapshot present to allow storage migration to be possible. Is there a particular feature of interest to you you do not currently see?

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@Daniel: Storage XenMotion has been around for some time now and works fine, even under XS 6.5. There were some improvements already built into XS 7.0, such as removing the constraint - I believe - on having just one snapshot present to allow storage migration to be possible. Is there a particular feature of interest to you you do not currently see?
Guest - Manfred Blum on Monday, 17 October 2016 12:12

How abount so simple things like life expansion of Windows VM HDs in XenCenter?
Perhaps life memory settings?
SR-Tree diagram like Tobias mentioned.

How about the lost thin provisioned block storage? The space consumption of LVM over FC is apr. 3-4 times of Storagelink with Netapp.

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How abount so simple things like life expansion of Windows VM HDs in XenCenter? Perhaps life memory settings? SR-Tree diagram like Tobias mentioned. How about the lost thin provisioned block storage? The space consumption of LVM over FC is apr. 3-4 times of Storagelink with Netapp.
David Cottingham on Friday, 28 October 2016 10:38

Thanks Manfred!

Understood re thin provisioning in particular.

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Thanks Manfred! Understood re thin provisioning in particular.
edmarcos on Sunday, 23 October 2016 14:11

I opened a topic in:
http://discussions.citrix.com/topic/381364-xen-detects-only-one-cpu/
on XenServer not work properly with the new intel processors Skylake.
In today performed the installation of the alpha version 7.0.90-129885c for version if it ever work correctly as the same using a 4.4 kernel.
Unfortunately this new version does not correctly work the Skylake intel processors.

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I opened a topic in: http://discussions.citrix.com/topic/381364-xen-detects-only-one-cpu/ on XenServer not work properly with the new intel processors Skylake. In today performed the installation of the alpha version 7.0.90-129885c for version if it ever work correctly as the same using a 4.4 kernel. Unfortunately this new version does not correctly work the Skylake intel processors.
David Cottingham on Monday, 07 November 2016 09:52

For those following this "at home", head over to https://bugs.xenserver.org/browse/XSO-635 for updates.

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For those following this "at home", head over to https://bugs.xenserver.org/browse/XSO-635 for updates.
Cosmin State on Friday, 28 October 2016 09:47

Live patching is nice, but... we've long ago lost the "10 to Xen" feeling. Usually, while deploying a new XS host, patching takes longer and longer, even with the "optimal" patching lists. Why not slipstreaming!? Why not service packs!? Why not patch chaining??? Should these questions remain unanswered with Ely?

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Live patching is nice, but... we've long ago lost the "10 to Xen" feeling. Usually, while deploying a new XS host, patching takes longer and longer, even with the "optimal" patching lists. Why not slipstreaming!? Why not service packs!? Why not patch chaining??? Should these questions remain unanswered with Ely?
Andrew Halley on Friday, 28 October 2016 10:36

Indeed. Excellent point. There's considerable work and investigation right now going on into new packaging formats - including faster and more intelligent ways to update and upgrade installations.

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Indeed. Excellent point. There's considerable work and investigation right now going on into new packaging formats - including faster and more intelligent ways to update and upgrade installations.

About XenServer

XenServer is the leading open source virtualization platform, powered by the Xen Project hypervisor and the XAPI toolstack. It is used in the world's largest clouds and enterprises.
 
Commercial support for XenServer is available from Citrix.