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[Xen-users] Consolidating multiple machines. Feasible?

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Subject: [Xen-users] Consolidating multiple machines. Feasible?
From: Daniel McAllansmith <dm.maillists@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 17:27:04 +1300
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I'm new to xen so please point out incorrect terminology or any faulty 
assumptions I seem to be making.

I'm wondering if it is feasible to consolidate various separate machines onto 
a single piece of hardware.  

The desired outcome would be to have several 'stations' (consisting of 
monitor, sound, kbd & mouse and ideally some IO devices eg optical drives, 
card readers, etc.) all virtualised on the one machine.

Additionally there'd be a requirement for utility machine(s) eg firewall, myth 
backend, mail server, whatever.  Hopefully these headless/inputless linux 
machines can be virtualized in a straight forward manner.

There are multiple usage scenarios for the stations.  These include a linux 
development workstation, a windows workstation, linux based HTPC, windows 
based gaming and maybe linux based gaming.

Ideally (pretty much) any usage would be possible on any station, and stations 
could borrow hardware from unused stations.  I'm mainly thinking graphics 
cards here, if station1 isn't using it's card you could start up a SLI 
windows machine on station2.

I'd likely set up a AMD Socket F based system so would have hardware 
virtualisation and IOMMU.

Some questions that have occurred to me:

Given hardware based virtualisation, are devices (eg graphics, sound, tv 
cards...) in domUs going to work just like it was the native OS?

Can individual USB devices be reserved for use by a domU?

Can domUs be nested?  E.g. run a windows machine in the domU linux workstation 
(in a window).

Can hardware be relinquished by a domU?  Perhaps through some sort of tricky 
virtual machine migration?

What happens if you try to give reserved hardware to a domU when another domU 
already has it?

It seems desirable to have as little as possible running on dom0.  Are there 
management tools which handle headless dom0 and the need to shutdown a 
certain domU to free up hardware so the desired domU can be started up?

I think I read somewhere that using IOMMU requires the entirety of a domU to 
be locked in memory because devices can't retry writes to main memory.  Is 
that correct?

I'm sure there's other things I would need to consider, so don't restrict 
yourself to what I actually ask! ;)


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