Setting Up a Test or Teaching Environment For XenServer

XenServer on XenServer

This is not a usage formally supported by Citrix, however it is possible (with limitations) to use it in some instances. It is not advised for use in a production environment but many developers find it useful especially if they have limited access to hardware.

Use cases are typically around providing training or demo environments, providing the ability to provision virtualised XenServer hosts.

Running XenServer on top of XenServer isn't a supported or sensible production system. However it is something developers writing products or scripts against the API sometimes do as a test environment. Blow away some XenServer VMs with your coding bugs rather than hosts.This is mentioned in the XenServer release notes:
"As an alternative sandbox testing environment, you can install XenServer as a generic HVM Guest using the Other install media template (2048MB of memory and a disk size of at least 12GB is recommended). Note that the Guest's IP address will not be reported though the CLI or XenCenter. "

Please note that because “Other Install Media” is an HVM install the performance will correspondingly be unsuitable for production systems. Some users use this as part of their hardware compatibility testing.

One of my colleagues has explored scripting this type of installation on his blog:


Checking Which Version Of XenServer Or Its Components Are Installed

If you are testing with multiple versions or frequently re-installing XenServer it may be useful to familiarise yourself with the CLI xe command:

host-param-get uuid=<host-uuid> param-name=software-version


which will report the version of all components of a XenServer installation.

Install / Upgrade and RollBack of Test Environments

Some developer tools intended for use in test environments (non-production) are available, here.

Testing A Product For Commercial Supported Citrix XenServer

Many developers and vendors create tools and products that they subsequently seek Citrix Certification for. Developers aspiring to official Citrix partner status for their products are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the certification criteria and kits and to restrict themselves to fully supported architectural designs and interfaces. Access to Citrix’s partnering program is free for XenServer Developers and Vendors. 

Demo Licences (formally known as NFR licenses)

XenServer is now open source and as such developers have free access to the functionality, source code and builds. Commercially supported Citrix XenServer licensing offers some usability tools in particular associated with upgrades and hotfix application. Developers wishing to access demo licenses of commercially support XenServer can do so by joining the Citrix Ready Partnering Program.

Demo Licenses for Citrix Products

Developers producing products for XenServer as a Platform for products such as Citrix CloudPlatform or XenDesktop and for use in mobility solutions can obtain free demo licenses for test and development via the Citrix Ready Partner program. Licenses are available for

  • Citrix XenDesktop (with XenApp)
  • Citrix VDI-in-a-Box
  • Citrix XenServer
  • Citrix XenServer Per Socket
  • Citrix Access Gateway VPX
  • Citrix NetScaler VPX
  • Citrix Access Gateway Universal
  • Citrix AppDNA Enterprise
  • Cloud Gateway Enterprise


Virtual Test Labs and Infrastructure

Vendors with limited experience or infrastructure for the testing of virtualised solutions may wish to explore using third party provision including Citrix Ready’s virtual test labs or consultancy solutions. Details of the can be found on the Citrix Site, Citrix Ready Virtual Lab is an online lab that makes it simple for Citrix ecosystem partners to verify their products for the Citrix Ready program. The lab environment is preconfigured according to the requirements of select Citrix Ready verifications and contains the servers that most ISV partners require to verify their products.


Community Experience

The SDK and General XenServer User forums are frequented by many developers and XenServer users with experience of testing and using products for XenServer and can be a useful place to ask questions about testing products writeen against the APIs. Vendors and developers often recruit beta testers on the forums and many forum users welcome the chance to give developers feedback whilst products are in development.



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.
Technical support for XenServer is available from Citrix.