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Install Xen 3 from Scratch on Debian Sarge using Backports

Introduction to Backports http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backport

Debian Backports are created to allow newer software run on existing systems.

Add in Backports

vi /etc/apt/sources.list

deb http://www.backports.org/debian/ sarge-backports main

vi /etc/apt/preferences

Package: *
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 200 

Package: xen-3.0
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Package: linux-2.6
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Package: xen-tools
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Package: udev
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Package: lsb
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Package: module-init-tools
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Package: grub
Pin: release a=sarge-backports
Pin-Priority: 999

Note that for Backports, we can specify which packages can be used from backports. The dependencies are figured out from Documents and trial & error.

Now - Update, Dist-upgrade to recieve backports and get packages.

apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
apt-get install grub/sarge-backports
apt-get install makedev/sarge-backports
apt-get install lsb-base/sarge-backports
apt-get upgrade

apt-get install xen-hypervisor-3.0-i386 xen-utils-3.0
apt-get install linux-image-2.6.16-2-xen-686
//or if your on AMD:
#apt-get install linux-image-2.6.16-2-xen-k7
//or if your on a Hetzner Server (see bottom of page):
#apt-get install linux-image-2.6.16-1-xen-k7

dpkg --purge hotplug
apt-get install bridge-utils xen-tools/sarge-backports sysfsutils
mv /lib/tls/ /lib/tls.disabled

Make initial RAM Disk Module to LOAD Xen Kernel

cd /boot
mkinitramfs -o /boot/initrd.img-2.6.16-2-xen-686 2.6.16-2-xen-686
//or if your on a Hetzner Server - make appropriate change to:
#mkinitramfs -o /boot/initrd.img-2.6.16-1-xen-k7 2.6.16-1-xen-k7

Configure Grub and Xen Config


  • Grub can be configured to allow a "fallback" option, whereby if the server hangs on kernel load etc. when it reboots, it will boot a second grub entry etc.
  • Please make necessary adjustments if your using SATA,RAID, or using a Hetzner Server

vi /boot/grub/menu.lst

title Xen 3.0 / XenLinux 2.6-686
kernel /boot/xen-3.0-i386.gz
module /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.16-2-xen-686 root=/dev/md0 ro
module /boot/initrd.img-2.6.16-2-xen-686

My Current Grub Config

title Xen 3.0 / XenLinux 2.6-k7
root            (hd0,1)
kernel          /boot/xen-3.0-i386.gz dom0_mem=128000
module          /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.16-1-xen-k7 root=/dev/md0 ro panic=10
module          /boot/initrd.img-2.6.16-1-xen-k7
savedefault     fallback

vi /etc/xen/xend-config.sxp

#xend-relocation-server yes
(vif-script vif-bridge)
(dom0-min-mem 128)
#(network-script network-dummy)
#(xend-relocation-hosts-allow '^localhost$')
(network-script network-bridge)

Have Xend Daemon start on System start

invoke-rc.d xend restart

Reboot into Dom0


All going well the server should boot up using a Xen modified Kernel. It should pick up sata drivers and boot off them. If the system boots - excellent. Type xm list to see if dom0 is listed and running.

If it fails

  • Check grub to see if it actually boots the Xen kernel or a standard one.
  • Check to see if the files in grub actually match the files located in /boot
  • Make sure grub is installed correctly to the Hard Disk.
  • Make sure that it boots off the correct partition, e.g. (hd0,1) or (hd0,0)
  • It will not work with RAID for the moment.
  • Go back and follow the initial how-to on debian adminisration at: http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/423
  • Go back and choose a different Xen Kernel: apt-get install linux-image-2.6.16-1-xen-k7
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