Citrix open sources XenServer
Citrix has announced that, with the release of XenServer 6.2, it is open sourcing the product and is making it available from the new XenServer.org web site. In a blog post on the Xen Project Community Blog, community manager Lars Kurth explains that the move is designed to fight "confusion created amongst developers and users" of the product.
XenServer previously comprised a mix of mostly open source components with some proprietary tools. It included the Xen hypervisor running on a modified version of the CentOS Linux distribution, bundled with specialised user tools. As Kurth points out, Citrix had open sourced the XenServer management toolstack (XAPI) in 2009, but other software, such as the XCP build system, remained proprietary. With the move to XenServer.org, the whole XenServer stack is now available under the terms of open source licences.
Aside from the open source releases of XenServer, Citrix is also continuing to offer a commercial version, which adds the ability to automatically install updates through XenCenter and includes commercial support options. New features in XenServer 6.2 include better scaling, with support for up to 500 virtual machines and 4000 CPUs per host, and performance improvements for the hosted VMs. Additionally, Windows 8 and Server 2012 have shed their experimental status when used as guests on the hypervisor.
Citrix says that future development of XAPI will take place within the Xen project and that its developers will work with Linux distributions that include Xen and XAPI packages to make packaging and submission of patches easier for them. The company hopes that seeing the Xen Project as an upstream for the XenServer.org components will also improve its own development efforts on these components. According to Knuth, Xen Server "will contribute to the Xen Project and will focus on building, testing and delivering this distribution." Similarly, the XAPI project will work with its downstream distributions more closely than before, using the new web site as a development hub. The new organisational structures, including mailing lists and bug reporting systems, are still being discussed within the project and Kurth calls on developers to participate in the discourse.
The XenServer.org site will also host Windows-only Xen components from Citrix, including XenCenter, that the company is, "for obvious reasons", not able to host as part of the Xen project – which is under the stewardship of the Linux Foundation. In this way, XenServer.org will provide a collaboration platform for developers working on Windows-only Xen components.