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IGP passthrough

posted in New Users
Thursday, February 20 2014, 07:02 AM
I'm planning a Xen-based home server with a windows 7 HTPC VM and a freenas/nas4free based NAS VM. I'd like to avoid the heat of a video card and use IGP pass-through to the windows 7 VM. There seems to be very little info out there on IGP passthrough.

Has anyone heard of success with the Supermicro X10SAE? There is an Anandtech forum post about no HDMI audio, but no indication it has been resolved. I can't find anything on IGP passthrough with the Asrock C226 WS. That's about it for C226 mother boards, which other posts indicate is the lowest risk path for pass-through.

My current thinking is Silverstone GD07 case, Supermicro X10SAE, 32GB ECC, i7-4770
HTPC VM is Windows 7 with IGP passthrough, also passthrough to a WinTV-HVR-2250 tuner.
NAS VM is Nas4free with pass-through to the ASM1061 SATA controller. 2-disk mirror using ZFS and WD red 4 TB disks.
Router VM is openWRT with pass-through to a Asus PCE-AC68. Not yet sure if this is even possible.

Finally, what is the best choice of a host distro? Is my perception correct that Fedora is the most popular correct? If I'd prefer the stability of Debian (and want to stay in the Deb family and use Mint as my home development VM), but also want to keep current with Xen 4.3 (and 4.4 when it comes out)... is that an unusual combination? I'd like to stick with what is popular to maximize the probability of finding solutions in forums when I encounter problems. Using CentOS for my server VMs and Fedora for more bleeding-edge playing around would be another solution, but is Xen a second-class citizen in the RPM world since Red Hat reportedly disabled Xen in the RHEL 7 betas - using Xen on CentOS means being a niche user with little support, late patches, and a small community?

Post-finally, any recommendations for a good management GUI to play with once I get Xen running? Xen-orchestra and open-nebula look nice. It looks like they require XAPI... is that only available on XCP? And XCP != Xen, right? XCP uses an older version of Xen? And older versions probably don't support newer hardware or IGP passthrough... so no GUI for me? I've read FAQs but am still fuzzy on the overlap and difference between Xen, XCP, and the various tool stacks.
Responses (1)
  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, February 28 2014, 10:12 PM - #permalink

    You've got a lot of questions here; let me address a few at least.

    Which distribution is most popular? Not sure we have a statistic for that. Fedora certainly has its followers. Debian does too. I have a laptop with Xen Project on Ubuntu, FWIW. And if you absolutely want to keep things up-to-date, it's not very hard to install current Xen Project kits from tarballs.

    Xen4CentOS is a special community, yes. But it is there for a reason -- people wanted it and are using it. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, you may want a distribution with native Xen Project kits. But, frankly, I'd have no problem recommending Xen4CentOS for people who want to use it. The CentOS community are serious about the software, even if the RHEL folks have their own agenda pushing an alternative.

    Xen/XAPI/XCP... Yeah, that can be confusing even for the best of us at times. ;) But XAPI is part of Xen Project. XCP (which is disappearing) is de-branded XenServer -- which is now Open Source as a separate project under Citrix (Xen Project is under Linux Foundation). Now that XenServer is Open Source, the need for XCP goes away. And, yes, XenServer often uses a slightly older version of Xen Project software under the covers.

    There's a video on the subject from the last Xen Project User Summit here:


    GUI: If you use XAPI, you have options. XenCenter from XenServer works fine (although it runs on Windows). Xen Orchestra has done a lot of great work recently.

    For the latest info on the whole IGP passthrough issue, I suggest dropping a note on the xen-users mailing list. There are a lot more folks who hang out there.

    Does this help a little?

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