Thursday, August 9, 2012

gentoo/xen part two

For some time now kernel 3.5 is out. I tested many rc's with xen and i also encountered quite a few problems. Mostly kernel panics. I found the rc5 the most stable of the rc's. Now i'm using the official gentoo unstable version and so far i didn't get any kernel panics.

My ATI card with the latest drivers

I had some time now to test and since i like to game i really test alot. Besides that there was the steam summer sale, which means i have now 50+ games. I finished playing Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two and Tomb Raider: Legend.

Now i'm playing Borderlands with my brother in coop mode. I also tried games like Spec Ops: The Line, Diablo 3, Team Fortress 2, L4D2, Tera, Dead Island, RFIT, Unreal Tournament and  Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
All of them running fluently with mostly max details on. Windows itself also runs without problems. No single BSOD or anything else:

  • Driver update in Windows for the graphic card worked perfectly.
  • However, turning off windows and starting again still don't work with xen-4.2. I still have to reboot the whole system.
  • Another detail worth to mention is, when i played Rift, every time i played i had to unlock my account, because it though i played from a new PC. Steam on the other side don't have any problems.


On the linux side it's bit differently. I had problems, but mainly with the kernel which i can't judge since i always tried unstable release candidates which are known to have bugs. After all, the final gentoo 3.5 kernel works again perfectly.

Udev on the other side still makes me headaches. Right now i stuck with udev-182-r3 which is not even in portage anymore. Once i update to a newer version, xen won't start any guest anymore. I think it's because of broken udev rules which is described here. I didn't test that much yet but i have holiday now and hope i can find a solution.

Besides some kernel panic's with rc's and the udev thing there aren't any bugs to report. Other updates didn't influence xen at all, even though i'm on ~amd64 and update the system at least once a week.

Gentoo and kde working flawless and fluently. Though i can see that kde responses a bit faster when i start linux without xen, but that's not noteworthy.
xl dmesg

I've also upgraded to gcc-4.6 and xen-4.2. GCC-4.6 didn't change anything particular within xen, while with xen-4.2 i could finally try out gfx_passthrough in the config. However i couldn't get it to work, even though i don't get any error messages too. With xen-4.2 there are also alot of new function in the xl toolstack. I also found a nice solution to turn off the guest from the linux system:
xl shutdown -F 1

The number is the xen-id of the guest system. The "-F" means it sends an ACPI power event. While this isn't something particular new it's nice to know.

Another change i made in my win7x64.cfg:
 # This gives the vm exclusive access to the 4,5,6 and 7 cpu.  


While kernel 3.5 seems to be a good kernel, 3.6 will be another one worth to try out. If you reading the blog post at xen, 3.6 will get some nice performance improvements. Guess this time i'll wait until the final kernel get released :)
I'm also looking forward too steam for linux. Even though xen is working quite good, native playing games on linux would be awesome.

Finally i'm showing you another demonstration video while playing borderlands. This time in a better quality. Hope you'll like it.


  1. Rift may need constant unlocking because in your previous Xen post you didn't have a fixed mac address for your NIC specified. In your Win 7 cfg add a mac=00:11:22:33:44:55 statement to the vif line, eg:


    I use the line below to randomly generate a mac address for Xen domains:

    echo "00:16:3e:`openssl rand -hex 3 | sed 's/\(..\)/\1:/g; s/.$//'`"

    1. Thanks for your comment. You're probably right. I'm using now a fixed one, but i can't say if that was the reason since i didn't play RIFT for quite some time.

    2. Hi, due to Xen has own OUI from IEEE, I recommend using 00:16:3e:xx:xx:xx addresses (as you mentioned in the last line :)) 00:11:22 is for Cimsys Inc.