Today Citrix announced that XenServer is becoming a fully open-source project. As part of this we’ve created XenServer.org – a one-stop shop for all thing XenServer. Whether you are a hobbyist, tinkerer, or a seasoned virtualization professional, xenserver.org is the one place to not only find information about XenServer, but also communicate via the forums with like-minded people about virtualization, open source, cloud and related topics. Importantly, and now that XenServer is fully open source, it is also the starting point from where you can make a difference in influencing and contributing to the direction and future of XenServer through either product suggestions or contributing to XenServer code.

But first, let’s back up, review recent history and understand the lay of the land with where development happens for the various XenServer components.

Recent History:

  • 2009: Citrix released XAPI (the XenServer management toolstack), plus the XCP ISOs (a variant of XenServer that only contains open source components), under open source licenses on xen.org. This marked the beginning of XenServer’s transition towards open source.
  • 2011: XAPI packages were delivered into Debian and Ubuntu, enabling users to build a XenServer like system from individual packages.
  • April 2013: XAPI moved with Xen.org under the auspices of the Xen Project – a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. The XAPI project is now a sub-project of the Xen Project.
  • June 2013: The creation of XenServer.org concludes this journey towards open source. Take a look at Scott Lindars’ blog post to see more about what this means for the XenServer product.

What’s developed where:

  • XAPI: Development of the XAPI components will continue as part of the Xen Project (in the XAPI sub-project at xenproject.org). The XAPI project will more closely align with how the Xen Hypervisor project operates and create a regular source release to feed into downstream projects.
  • The XAPI project will work with Linux distributions that contain XAPI packages. A focus area will be an effort to disentangle the packaging from the XAPI components. This will make it easier for Linux distributions to package, build, deliver and support XAPI packages.
  • XenServer and XCP always have been a large codebase, comprised of many hundreds of individual software components, which come from many different sources. In some sense XenServer (and XCP ISOs) are a distribution of the Xen Hypervisor, the XAPI toolstack, CentOS and other components. The creation of XenServer.org formalizes this relationship: XenServer.org consumes Xen Project components, will contribute to the Xen Project and will focus on building, testing and delivering this distribution.
  • In future, the XAPI project will focus on the development of its components and work with downstream distros, of which XenServer.org is just one example. This is a proven model in the Linux world, which is well understood and works.
  • XenCenter: XenServer.org will also be the home for Windows-only components such as XenCenter, as they cannot be hosted as part of the Xen Project and Linux Foundation. XenServer.org will provide a space for developers to collaborate and contribute to the development of Windows-only components.
  • How do things change for contributors and users?

    • XAPI Developer: No change at all. Contribution to the XAPI packages will continue to be handled by the Xen Project under Xen Project governance. The XAPI project will make some changes to how it operates, but any changes will follow Xen Project community rules, discussed openly, and made using the Xen Project decision making process. Discussions on consolidating mailing lists, how to release XAPI, and so on started several weeks ago.
    • User of XAPI Linux packages: No change at all. Development of the XAPI toolstack and the packaging of these components continue as part of the Xen Project. However, there will not be an immediate update of the XCP-XAPI packages in Linux distros. Before there can be an update to these packages, the XAPI project team needs to deliver an independent XAPI release. Discussion, questions and bug reports for XCP-XAPI packages can be made on the appropriate distro mailing lists and on Xen Project mailing lists, IRC channels or the Q&A system.
    • XCP User: in the past, XCP ISOs have been built by Citrix and have been delivered to users via Xen.org. The XCP ISOs were migrated to the Xen Project. By fully open sourcing XenServer, there is no need to deliver new XCP ISOs. XCP ISOs will be replaced by open source XenServer binaries which are available from XenServer.org. The transition from XCP ISOs to XenServer should be smooth and painless.
    • No functionality will be taken away from XCP users
    • Users of XCP 1.6 will be able to upgrade to XenServer
    • Mailing lists: XCP users have been supporting each other through mailing lists (xen-api@lists.xenproject.org) and the #xen-api IRC channel will not go away. But we hope that you will find the resources on XenServer.org useful.
    • Users wishing to contribute improvements and fixes to XenServer will be able to do so via the xenserver.org community. Changes being made to XenServer’s structure will make it easier to rebuild individual packages to test candidate changes.
  • XenServer users: the xenserver.org community will be an ideal place to discuss XenServer best practices, get visibility into the XenServer roadmap, engage with XenServer developers and product managers and influence the direction of XenServer.
  • The Roadmap! Where is XenServer going?

    Our high level roadmap is located under the software tab on the xenserver.org home page. As you will see, XenServer has an exciting future. Our journey into full open source promises an even better product as we realize the contributions from the xenserver.org community. Join the conversation and contribute as we make XenServer the best platform for cloud and best open source server virtualization platform!

    What to Expect from XenServer.org

    So this is just the beginning of XenServer.org. We’ll begin by releasing the source code and providing binaries for users to download and install. For now we’ll provide mailing lists and still use the existing forums provided by Citrix. Over time we’ll transition them to this site. Additionally, we’ll add all the things that you would expect from an open source project including a way to track bugs, request features and interact with the developers to collaborate on the code. We also include a number of ways to ask questions and get support via the mailing lists, forums and our Q&A system.

    What you can do now:

    If you haven’t tried XenServer before, download the new XenServer 6.2 here. It’s free! Just burn the iso and load it up. You really can have XenServer up and running in ten minutes. And of course, the open source ISOs are available at the same place.

    Get involved! Want to share your experiences? Want to help others? Got some great ideas for product management and engineering? Head on over to the forums here.