Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Type1 (Bare Metal) Hypervisor for Desktops/Laptops–XenClient

Note: This product has been discontinued by Citrix. The below package is no more available for Download!
For a long time, Type1 (Bare Metal) hypervisors are reserved for server environments. They are known for speed, consistency and stability during heavy loads. They are the only hypervisors that provides ‘near native’ performance. Typically Type-1 hypervisors are not available or used under traditional desktops/laptops due the the below reasons.
A. Issues with Type1 hypervisors (For Desktop usage)
1. No GUI for Type-1 Hypervisors
Type1 hypervisors are installed to a machine, without any GUI. Most often the physical host machine (In which hypervisor has installed) will be controlled by a terminal/client installed on a second machine. This is perfect for a server scenario, where most of the time, the machines are sealed inside Datacenters and managed remotely.
This setup is not at all viable for a desktop/laptop machine, as user will be directly interacting with the machine.
2. Hardware compatibility
Desktops/Laptops are offered by a diverse list of manufacturers, than any server counter parts. So there is a huge effort for supporting all these diverse hardware environment, to any hypervisors targeting desktops. This is not the case with servers, as there are a few vendors manufacturing servers, as compared to personnel computer industry.
So typically Desktops/Laptops lives with Type2 hypervisors like Virtualbox, VirutalPC, VMWare Workstation e.t.c. Though KVM can be considered as a Type1 hypervisor, that statement is not completely true, as it requires an host OS to be present.
B. A true Type1/Bare Metal Desktop Hypervisor – XenClient
Does this means, desktops has to live with only Type2 hypervisors?
The answer is ‘No’, as Citrix has now come up with a BareMetal/Type1 hypervisor for desktop/laptop environments. It is a “Type1 BareMetal Desktop Hypervisor”. The product is XenClient’. More specifically the hypervisor is called ‘XenClient Engine’.
The product can be used free, for managing up to 10 virtual machines. It has the following advantages that are typically required for any desktop/laptop environments and that are not available in server environments.
i. Hypervisor is integrated with GUI, for managing virtual machines.
The hypervisor comes with a GUI frontend, by which we can create and manage virtual machine. So a single machine can be used to host virtual machine as well as managing them using GUI.
Also remote management is possible with client products installed on other machines.
j. Additional utilities are available.
One good thing with this desktop edition is, it contains ‘Google Chrome’ browser. It’s a must utility that every desktop can’t live without.
C. Download and Configure – XenClient in your desktop
XenClient is free for use (To create/manage up to 10 virtual machines), though it requires registration.
Go to XenClient Home Page and click on ‘Download Now’ button. You many need to create an account next, by providing a valid email id and other details. Once done you will redirected to the ‘XenClient’ download page.
Download ‘XenClient Enterprise Engine’ ISO file (See above fig.). Now burn it to a DVD and use it for installation. The installation procedure can be found in the manual, Please read it carefully. Normally the setup will install into the first available free space in the first hard disk and format it with LVM partition format (logical volume manager).
For experimental usage, we’ve installed ‘XenClient’ as a KVM Guest, as KVM supports nested virtualization. To install XenClient engine as a KVM guest, you can find the procedure here. Below given the screenshots from our XenClient Engine installed as a KVM Guest.
For more management capabilities, we can use ‘XenClient Synchronizer’, that can be installed into any windows machine (.NET Framework should be installed). The free usage allows us to manage at most 10 virtual machines.


  1. Good article, Abe. Will certainly try it out. Been looking for some way to manage limited computing resources in the home environment without sacrificing access to the rest of the family OR restricting them in any way. Hence am considering bare-metal hypervisor installation. Already mucked around with installing OSs on removable drives but the learning curve (and the deployment curve) is STEEP

  2. Could you post the download link because Citrix have either (a) taken off the one from where you downloaded and whose screenshot you've posted; or (b) it is buried somewhere even deeper than where you say we could find it. End result is there is NO LINK!

  3. You've to fill in the form and register first, then it will take you to the XenClient home page. The registration is free, and you can avail the free trail of Xen client, that allows you to create a maximum of 10 Virtual Machines.

  4. I go through the link you provided, but there's no free download version of it just trial version and its only allow 90 day usage. so wich one should i use to get free version of it, i mean 10 VMs that you mention in your post. Thanks

  5. I believe even after 90 days, you can live with the 10 VM option. Not sure, you've to check with Citrix support on this.

  6. Unfortunetly theres no xen client as standalone package anymore , i already recheck and searching through google or citrix official site for its image but not getting any result. could you provide me the link for xen client image that you have already downloaded. Thanks before

    1. They have discontinued it. It is superseded by DesktopPlayer: