Sunday, April 09, 2006

Xen Virtual Server

Xen is one of several methods for creating a virtual machine. A virtual machine is where software or hardware creates what appears to be a computer within a real computer. Noramally this is done so that a computer can have multiple computers running on it. This is very useful when one is experimenting with software and does not want one system to blow up the entire computer. Or in this case, the entire virtual computer will blow up and the other virtual servers will run unaffected.

Xen works by creating a very low-level interface for virtual computers. Each virtual computer believes it is talking to the computer's hardware when it is actually talking to Xen. This allows for performance close to that of running directly on the hardware. Some virtual servers can run slowly because they have more levels to go through.

Xen is free and is fairly easy to setup. It is a great system to have if you have a school computer lab with students wanting to build servers or do low-level programming.

I will discuss other virtual servers in future posts. It's a technology that helps in a large number of situations.


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