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Chapter 3. Installing Windows VMs

XenServer allows you to install Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Server 2003 (32-/64- bit), or Windows XP SP2 into a VM. Installing Windows VMs on XenServer Host requires hardware virtualization support (Intel VT or AMD-V).

Installing a Windows VM can be broken down into two main steps:

  • installing the Windows operating system

  • installing the paravirtualized device drivers

Windows VMs are installed by cloning an appropriate Template from either XenCenter or the CLI. The Templates for individual guests have predefined platform flags set which define the configuration of the virtual hardware. For example, all Windows VMs are installed with the ACPI Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). If you subsequently change one of these VMs to have multiple virtual CPUs, Windows automatically switches the HAL to multi-processor mode.

The list of pre-defined Windows templates are:

  • Windows Server 2003:  can be used to install Windows Server 2003 32-bit SP0, SP1, and SP2. The Server, Enterprise, Data Centre, and SBS editions are supported.

  • Windows Server 2003 x64:  can be used to install Windows Server 2003 64-bit. The Server, Enterprise, Data Centre, and SBS editions are supported.

  • Windows 2000 SP4:  can be used to install Windows 2000 Server Service Pack 4. Earlier service packs are not supported.

  • Windows XP SP2:  can be used to install Windows XP Service Pack 2. Earlier service packs are not supported.

The Windows VM can be installed either from a install CD in a physical CD-ROM on the XenServer Host, or from an ISO image of your Windows media (see Appendix A, Creating ISO images for information on how to make an ISO image from a Windows install CD and make it available for use).

3.1. Making the ISO available to XenServer Hosts

To make an ISO library available to XenServer Hosts, create an external NFS or SMB/CIFS share directory. The NFS or SMB/CIFS server must be set to allow root access to the share. For NFS shares, this is accomplished by setting the no_root_squash flag when you create the share entry in /etc/exports on the NFS server.

Then either use XenCenter to attach the ISO library, or connect to the host console and type in:

xe-mount-iso-sr host:/volume

Additional arguments to the mount command may be passed in, for advanced use.

If making a Windows SMB/CIFS share available to the XenServer host, either use XenCenter to make it available, or connect to the host console and type in:

xe-mount-iso-sr unc_path -t smbfs -o username=myname/myworkgroup

The unc_path argument should have back-slashes replaces by forward-slashes. -t cifs can be used for CIFS instead of SMB. Examples:

xe-mount-iso-sr //server1/myisos -t cifs -o username=johndoe/mydomain
xe-mount-iso-sr //server2/iso_share -t smbfs -o username=alice

After mounting the share, any ISOs in it should be available by name from the CD pulldown list in XenCenter, or as CD images from the CLI commands. The ISO should be attached to an appropriate Windows template:

  • Windows Server 2003

  • Windows Server 2003 x64

  • Windows 2000 SP4

  • Windows XP SP2

3.1.1. Copying ISOs to local storage

In XenServer 3.2 and earlier, ISOs could be copied directly to the control domain into the /opt/xensource/packages/iso directory. In XenServer 4.0.1 hosts, this directory is reserved for use of the built-in ISO images, and is not intended for general use. This directory is considered to be identical across hosts in a Resource Pool, and CD images may fail to attach if the contents are modified.

To use local ISO storage from the control domain

  1. Log onto the host console.

  2. Create a directory to copy the local ISOs into: mkdir -p /var/opt/xen/iso_import

  3. Create an ISO storage repository by: xe-mount-iso-sr /var/opt/xen/iso_import -o bind

  4. Copy the ISO images into this directory, taking care not to fill up the control domain filesystem.

  5. Verify that the ISO image is available for use by xe vdi-list, or checking the CD drop-down box in XenCenter.


Be extremely careful with copying ISOs directly onto the control domain filesystem, as it has limited space available. A network share is a much safer mechanism for storing large numbers of ISO images. If the control domain does fill up, unpredictable behavior will result.