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Virtualization Cloud

Crowdfunding Campaign Seeks a Fully Open Source Alternative to Citrix XenServer (kickstarter.com) 66

"Free/libre and 100% community backed version of XenServer," promises a new Kickstarter page, adding that "Our first prototype (and proof of concept) is already functional." Currently, XenServer is a turnkey virtualization platform, distributed as a distribution (based on CentOS). It comes with a feature rich toolstack, called XAPI. The vast majority of XenServer code is Open Source.

But since XenServer 7.3, Citrix removed a lot of features from it. The goal of XCP-ng is to make a fully community backed version of XenServer, without any feature restrictions. We also aim to create a real ecosystem, not depending on one company only. Simple equation: the more we are, the healthier is the environment.

The campaign reached its fundraising goal within a few hours, reports long-time Slashdot reader NoOnesMessiah, and within three days they'd already raised four times the needed amount and began unlocking their stretch goals.
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Crowdfunding Campaign Seeks a Fully Open Source Alternative to Citrix XenServer

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  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Sunday February 04, 2018 @03:48PM (#56067061) Homepage Journal
    This is a good idea. I donated. If you don't have Open Source, you have no idea what your systems are doing. If the Intel debacle has taught us anything, it has taught us closed hardware is bad too.
    • Not only is this a good idea because you can investigate what your software does under he hood, but you also have the ability to remove those hardcoded limitations that Citrix forced down the throat of the free version users.

      The timing of the Spectre / Meltdown bug and the release of the new Xen Server 7.3 is certainly not fortuitious, along with the fact that they said they would not release the patch for 7.2 and lower.

      They were probably informed in advance of the bugs and had the time to plan this mi
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 04, 2018 @07:50PM (#56068105) Journal

      Uhhh isn't it ALREADY a FOSS product, they just have a free and paid for version and they have removed some features from the free in the hopes of getting some to buy the paid and thus stay in business?

      I always wondered if the day would come when a part of the "blessed trinity" of FOSS would break down. For those that do not know the blessed trinity is the only way one can make money in FOSS, every other way leads to failure and bankruptcy. You have to 1.- Sell services and support (which is what Xenserver is doing), 2.- Sell hardware (the Android/TiVo model) or 3.- eBegging (community projects) and while I always thought #2 would be the one to fail first as we have already seen the "TiVo clause" which caused GPL adoption to plummet (if you do not believe it has I can provide pre and post GPL 3 stats, the chart looks like a classic triangle going down) a close second would be the first part of the trinity as it really is not hard for people to have a sense of entitlement that allows themselves to justify fucking themselves in the long term for short term gains.

      Because looking up this company they appear to be exactly what the FOSS community claims they want companies to be, they make FOSS software, they support the community and give back, no different than Red Hat. They aren't even making a ton of profit, 300 million in net income on 3 billion in sales for a company that large? Really ain't shit, especially when you consider how much of that is having to be spent on talent and R&D. Yet here we are, with the company still offering a 100% free product to the community and simply trying to tweak their free product so they can get some more sales (which considering how crazy expensive it is to hire the kind of talent you need to build complex virtualization software? Is probably warranted and needed to keep up with megacorps like AMZN and MSFT) but does the community try to build a dialog? Maybe come to a mutually beneficial compromise? Nope the community fucks them over by crowdfunding a bunch who promises to give you all the benefits of the paid version for free....now do you think if Citrix goes under or is bought out by another company because they can't hire the great coders and compete that this crowdfunding bunch is gonna be able to build the product from the ground up?

      But hey biting the hand that feeds is something the FOSS community is quite adept at, right? After all look at AMD who spent untold millions opening all their software, hiring FOSS coders to work on FOSS software which they gave away, everything from a truly CPU agnostic compiler to drivers to even an entire new low level API in Vulkan, did the community embrace AMD, sing their praises and urge everyone to support them? Nope instead every article on Linux has a dozen "buy Nvidia" a company so FOSS hostile that no less than Linus Torvalds flipped them off [youtube.com]. But just as AMD gave a great lesson to other companies that supporting FOSS gets you nothing in return so too will Citrix getting fucked provide a nice lesson that you either have to make your software so bug ridden they HAVE to pay for support or simply do not offer a free version at all because it will ultimately come back to bite you in the ass.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They didn't build it. They're standing on the shoulders of giants already and just wanting more of the pie. XenServer is not a shiny shiny new product made from scratch by Citrix. It's based on open source. They're just exploiting loopholes in the licensing by closed-sourcing what they can to attempt to drive valuation. Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          They didn't build it. They're standing on the shoulders of giants already and just wanting more of the pie. XenServer is not a shiny shiny new product made from scratch by Citrix. It's based on open source. They're just exploiting loopholes in the licensing by closed-sourcing what they can to attempt to drive valuation. Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

          I think you don't know the history of Xen.
          "They" that built Xen are the University of Cambridge alumni that created Xen and later founded XenSource, that company which Citrix paid $500 million for.
          The shoulders of giants you refer to have been employees of Citrix since 2007 and paid by Citrix to continue development of Xen both as the enterprise product and the open source product.

      • by HuguesT ( 84078 )

        AMD GPUs are popular with Open-source rigs, especially since the OSS driver performance is on par or better than the closed-source one even on recent GPUs. but several things play agains AMD becoming more popular on OSS rigs.

        GPUs are no longer used only for gaming. For instance AMD GPUs are more efficient at crypto-mining, meaning that there is a premium on them and stocks have been low. This is great news for AMD by the way but not so much for gamers. Meanwhile Nvidia has been investing a great deal in GP

  • Pardon my ignorance on the topic but what can this offer that Linux's KVM cannot?

    • This page [linux-kvm.org] has KVM's "ToDo" list. A good number of items on that list are supported by Xen. In addition, KVM will not play well [if at all], with older CPUs made prior to extensions enabling virtualization.

      KVM also doesn't work with Intel's Atom CPUs unless extensions are available.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AlanObject ( 3603453 )

        KVM also doesn't work with Intel's Atom CPUs unless extensions are available.

        It doesn't? In my last company we used an Atom C2000 and we used KVM/Libvirt to run VMs on it using Ubuntu 14.04. In fact we had one design win that depended on it.

        You may be thinking of the feature (I forget the code name) that lets you virtual-ize PCI devices. It couldn't do that so you had to rely on the linux kernel bridge or OpenVSwitch.

      • KVM will not play well [if at all], with older CPUs made prior to extensions enabling virtualization.

        KVM is a module for doing virtualization in qemu. It requires VT (or equivalent) but you can still use qemu without KVM. However, for the target market, that's not a drawback. Statistically nobody is running KVM or Xen on a processor so old it doesn't have virtualization extensions.

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        Virtualization extensions are not exactly new, they've been around for more than 10 years now... It's highly unlikely that anyone will be deploying such old processors on a hypervisor system.

        KVM works fine on many models of Atom, i've used it on a few. The really lowend models are again not the sort of systems you'd actually be using something like this on.

    • Xen supports para-virtualization, which was built into the original GPL version of Xen and remains useful to approach "bare-metal" speed for the virtual machines. Much of the need for this has been reduced through the development of "docker", which can be treated much like a Xen based para-virtualized VM with instances of even lighter weight.

      The very active CentOS Xen community has, as I've observed, been much larger and much more active than KVM in dealing with new server and guest environments. My informa

      • The virtio drivers provide paravirtualization for KVM. I don't know how they compare with Xen but it used to be quicker than VirtualBox.

        • Are those working well? I'd not tried them the last time I worked with KVM.

          • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

            Works very well, supported out of the box on linux for many years and available as an installable driver package for windows, there is now support for virtio in various bsd flavors too.

      • Paravirtualization is really only useful when the host CPU doesn't have the hardware necessary for virtualization. Since that is almost no x86 CPUs these days, the value of paravirtualization is low.

        In addition, KVM supports Virtio drivers for network and disk drives, reducing the value of the paravirtualization approach even more.

        • "Paravirtualization is really only useful when the host CPU doesn't have the hardware necessary for virtualization."

          That's not true. Paravirtualization can provide better performance in either case. From the virtio wiki [libvirt.org]

          So-called "full virtualization" is a nice feature because it allows you to run any operating system virtualized. However, it's slow because the hypervisor has to emulate actual physical devices such as RTL8139 network cards . This emulation is both complicated and inefficient.

          Virtio is a v

          • "Paravirtualization is really only useful when the host CPU doesn't have the hardware necessary for virtualization."

            That's not true. Paravirtualization can provide better performance in either case.

            Only in the case where your hardware doesn't support VT-d and SR-IOV (other hardware features built for IO virtualisation).

      • Xen supports para-virtualization, which was built into the original GPL version of Xen and remains useful to approach "bare-metal" speed for the virtual machines.

        No, para-virtualisation is no longer useful. PV is dead, kiilled by Spectre.

        Much of the need for this has been reduced through the development of "docker", which can be treated much like a Xen based para-virtualized VM with instances of even lighter weight.

        WHAT???? You can't compare PV with docker (no virtualisation, just process containment via namespaces). HV with accelerated IO drivers has displaced PV.

        The very active CentOS Xen community has, as I've observed, been much larger and much more active than KVM in dealing with new server and guest environments.

        What???? That might seem to be the case because very few people use Xen, so the CentOS Xen community it the only place there is any open-source concerted effort around Xen. But, that is because all the concerted open-source virtualisation effort is happening on Linux/KVM.

        My information may be out of date: this may also just mean KVM worked well since then. But I've seen a number of clients simply give up on KVM and just switch to Xen or Citrix Xen. due to unexpected limitations and the time necessary to spend valuable engineering time tuning their own virtualization servers. It's no longer on my recommended product list.

        KVM isn't a

    • XenServer has a full set of tools and a comprehensive GUI for doing anything and everything with the host and VMs. And this is the free version. The Paid version is very generously priced and provides a few more really nice features.

      The last time I tried using KVM, there wasn't a single decent management app for KVM that didn't also cost an absurd amount of money and still couldn't do everything that XenCenter/XenServer could do without extreme fiddling. Whether that's still the the case, I'm not sure.

      • XenServer has a full set of tools and a comprehensive GUI for doing anything and everything with the host and VMs. And this is the free version. The Paid version is very generously priced and provides a few more really nice features.

        The last time I tried using KVM, there wasn't a single decent management app for KVM that didn't also cost an absurd amount of money and still couldn't do everything that XenCenter/XenServer could do without extreme fiddling. Whether that's still the the case, I'm not sure.

        When was that? 4+ years ago? oVirt [ovirt.org], the open-source project that Red Hat Virtualisation is built on, supports all the features (and many many more) that (than) XenServer has in the paid version. In fact, it has all the features that RHV has, except the branding and commercial support.

        oVirt has been viable as a complete open-source solution since about the 3.3 release [ovirt.org] which was in Sept 2013. 3.0 was the first release to ditch the old .Net-based UI that came from Qumranet that was still shipped in RHEV 2.x.

        • Quite possibly. One doesn't up and change their entire VM infrastructure at the drop of a hat, so there's little incentive to keep up on up and coming technologies unless you're explicitly looking to make a change. Or if something comes up that so newsworthy that it manages to punch through all the noise.

          oVirt has definitely improved a lot since I last looked. However, one of my biggest complains still stands. You have to configure a frightening amount by hand without any tools to automate. I am leary

          • oVirt has definitely improved a lot since I last looked. However, one of my biggest complains still stands. You have to configure a frightening amount by hand without any tools to automate.

            Wrong. You can script setup of the entire solution, ujt the exact methods may differ (depending on how you deploy the manager, as a VM or stand-alone server, and previously also whether you installed the nodes from image or on top of RHEL (answer file or kickstart).

            New in the current release are provided ansible roles for setting up varoois components (I havan't dug into this though).

            Considering that it explicitly targets RHEL/Centos7 and only that, there should be no reason why there isn't a whole bunch of best practise automation mechanisms to set up key elements like hooking up the ISCSI (or NFS) backend.

            Anything for setting up the manager (including as a VM on the first host) can be scripted via engine_setup or hosted_engine_s

            • Wrong. You can script setup of the entire solution, ujt the exact methods may differ (depending on how you deploy the manager, as a VM or stand-alone server, and previously also whether you installed the nodes from image or on top of RHEL (answer file or kickstart).

              Key part bolded. Again, (and this is based on a very cursory viewing of the admin docs) this isn't provided by them. You have to write your own scripts and set up your own automation. That means you now have to learn to manage and use not only oVirt, but Ansible and other tools as well.

              The primary target of the commercial versipn is to replace VMWare. But that doesn't always mean expensive (see hyper-converged).

              Okay, fair enough. Enterprises with elaborate VMWare setups are going to already have the resources to set something like oVirt up.

              Unfortunately that's a handicap for smaller companies that are just getting started with t

              • Wrong. You can script setup of the entire solution, ujt the exact methods may differ (depending on how you deploy the manager, as a VM or stand-alone server, and previously also whether you installed the nodes from image or on top of RHEL (answer file or kickstart).

                Key part bolded. Again, (and this is based on a very cursory viewing of the admin docs) this isn't provided by them. You have to write your own scripts and set up your own automation. That means you now have to learn to manage and use not only oVirt, but Ansible and other tools as well.

                It's a bit hidden (but hinted at) in the RHV documentation (but the options are in the engine-setup --help, and it always tells you it is writing answer files). See this page which has a section on answer files [ovirt.org].

                Ansible is an additional option for shops that already have it, not required for scripting installation.

                Okay, fair enough. Enterprises with elaborate VMWare setups are going to already have the resources to set something like oVirt up.

                Anyone who hasn't got the resources to run a hyper-converged (IOW, software-defined storage cluster on the same hosts that run VMs, instead of expensive storage appliances that have sufficient redu

  • A clear and easy path to migrate off Citrix ZenServer, once enough of the current features are duplicated. Making the whole thing 800-171 compliant would also open up a huge niche market.
    • I agree this would be a good thing... but I’m not sure Kickstarter is the way to go for something where you’d ideally want broad corporate backing, given Kickstarters have a habit of just disappearing with your money.

      Of course I’m assuming people want this professionally. If it’s really the case that people want it for their home hobby servers, then Kickstarter is fine.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Sunday February 04, 2018 @05:29PM (#56067487)

    Really no one could come up with a better name than "XCP-ng"?

    • May I be the first to propose "Maude" on the grounds that you can pronounce it, spell check it, and have a reasonable chance of googling it. If you want to go the whole Ubuntu, then "Maniacal-Maude".
    • Hey, at least it's not a stupid pun or borderline offensive word. Open source projects have a terrible record for naming.
  • "The campaign reached its fundraising goal within a few hours, reports long-time Slashdot reader NoOnesMessiah, and within three days they'd already raised four times the needed amount and began unlocking their stretch goals."

    Sorry I don't follow a lot of kickstarter campaigns, but of the ones I have heard about it seems like the ones that over raise are more likely to fail. I think it is a matter of their eyes are bigger than their ability to execute. I will be interested to see if this one can keep the
    • I'd feel the same way if they hadn't already released a working proof-of-concept. It's based on XenServer 7.2 while what they'll be working on will be based on 7.3. A good number of the stretch goals have been done by users on the side for one purpose or another at times or by folks inside the Xen project or involved with XenOrchestra as proofs-of-concept as well. For example, software RAID is fairly common in small lab settings for XenServer installations, one I've used myself.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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