Xen Tools

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xen-tools contains a collection of Perl scripts for working with Xen guest images under Linux.

Using this software, you can easily create new Xen guests configured to be accessible over the network via OpenSSH.

xen-tools currently has scripts to install most releases of Debian (starting with 3.1 "Sarge") and Ubuntu (starting with 6.06 LTS "Dapper") and some RPM-based distributions. On the Dom0 side all current Xen supporting distributions should work.

However, currently only Debian and Ubuntu releases are tested and known to work reliably, i.e.:


  • Sarge 3.1 (i386 and DomU only)
  • Etch 4.0 (Dom0 no more tested)
  • Lenny 5.0 (Dom0 no more tested)
  • Squeeze 6.0 (Dom0 no more tested)
  • Wheezy 7
  • Jessie 8
  • Stretch 9 (under development)
  • Buster 10 (knows about this future release name)
  • Bullseye 11 (knows about this future release name)
  • Sid (always under development; works at least at the moment of writing :-)


(only DomUs tested)

  • Dapper Drake 6.06 (LTS, needs editing of /usr/share/debootstrap/scripts/dapper since at least debootstrap version 1.0.37, see #659360)
  • Edgy Eft 6.10 (needs editing of /usr/share/debootstrap/scripts/edgy since at least debootstrap version 1.0.37, see #659360)
  • Feisty Fawn 7.04
  • Gutsy Gibbon 7.10
  • Hardy Heron 8.04 (LTS, see Installing Ubuntu 8.04 as DomU)
  • Interpid Ibex 8.10
  • Jaunty Jackaplope 9.04
  • Karmic Koala 9.10
  • Lucid Lynx 10.04 (LTS)
  • Maverick Meerkat 10.10
  • Natty Narwhal 11.04
  • Oneiric Ocelot 11.10
  • Precise Pangolin 12.04 (LTS)
  • Quantal Quetzal 12.10
  • Raring Ringtail 13.04
  • Saucy Salamander 13.10
  • Trusty Tahr 14.04 (LTS)
  • Utopic Unicorn 14.10
  • Vivid Vervet 15.04
  • Wily Werewolf 15.10
  • Xenial Xerus 16.04 (LTS)
  • Yakkety Yak 16.10
  • Zesty Zapus 17.04 (under development)


(only DomUs tested, pygrub support incomplete)

  • CentOS 5
  • CentOS 6


xen-tools are available prepackaged in Debian (and derivates) and as source tar-ball for local installation. Installing from source should work flawlessly on most Linux systems that meet the installation requirements.


To use these tools you'll need the following software:

You can try to install RPM-based distributions such as CentOS, or Fedora Core, but you will need a correctly installed and configured rinse package. This is currently not fully supported.

If you wish to create new Xen instances which may be controlled by users via a login shell you can have a look at the (currently unmaintained) xen-shell project.


As root or with sudo, execute make install.

See debian/README.source how to build the Debian package from a checked out copy of the git repository (i.e. without a source tar ball).

The Scripts

Here is a brief description of each included script, for more thorough documentation please consult the appropriate man page.


This script is designed to create new images which may be used with the Xen hypervisor.

This script performs the initial setup, then delegates the real work to a collection of helper scripts:

  • xt-install-image: Installs a distribution into a directory.

  • xt-customize-image: Run a collection of hook scripts to configure the freshly installed system.

  • xt-create-xen-config: Create a configuration file in /etc/xen such that Xen can boot the newly created machine.

  • xt-guess-suite-and-mirror: In case of a Debian or Ubuntu Dom0, this script tries to guess the most suitable suite and mirror for DomUs based on the Dom0's /etc/apt/sources.list.


This script is similar in spirit to xen-create-image, but much less complex. It allows the creation of Xen guests which are diskless, mounting their root filesystem over a remote NFS-share.

There are not many options to tweak, but still a useful addition to the suite.


This script will allow you to completely remove Xen instances which have previously been created by xen-create-image, this includes removing the storage block devices from the system, and deleting the Xen configuration file.


List all the created images beneath a given root directory along with a brief overview of their setup details.


This script runs "apt-get update; apt-get upgrade" for a given Xen image.


  • The image should not be running or corruption will occur!
  • The script should only be used for Xen instances of Debian or a Debian-derived distribution.

Version Numbering Scheme

Since release 4.4, the version numbering scheme of xen-tools tries to comply with the Semantic Versioning specification, with the only exception that trailing zeroes are omitted.

Between the releases 3.9 and 4.4, the version numbering scheme followed roughly the same ideas, but less strict.

Test Suite Coverage

Coverage Status

Despite parts of the test suite are quite old, it only tests a small fraction of what xen-tools can do. Some of the scripts currently could only be tested on an actual Xen Dom0. Hence the code coverage of xen-tools' test suite is quite bad.


Reporting Bugs

If you're using the current packages included as part of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution or a derivative, please first report any bugs using the distribution's way to report bugs.

In case of Debian this would be using e.g. reportbug xen-tools.

If you're using the xen-tools built from source tar ball, please report bugs via GitHub's issue tracker, or, if you don't want to create a GitHub account or are not sure if it's really a bug, feel free to just write an e-mail to the xen-tools dicsussion mailing list.

If you're capable of fixing it yourself a patch is appreciated, and a test case would be a useful bonus.

Known/Open Issues

-- The Xen-Tools Developer Team