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Latest Xen Pictures The Desktop Party

The Xen open source virtualization project is out with the fourth point release this year of its namesake Xen hypervisor.

Xen 3.0.4 may prove to be more visually appealing than its predecessors, thanks to the inclusion of graphical frame buffer support for para-virtualised guests. That support will further enable Xen users see their virtualized "guests" through a graphical interface, rather than using a command line interface to manage the different virtualized environments.

Among the improvements in Xen 3.0.4 is better support for SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processors), and Linux ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) , which typically find their way onto notebooks. Intel IA64 64 bit Itanium systems as well as IBM's Power architecture also get improved support with the latest Xen release.

Open source Xen 3 is included in Linux distributions from Novell's OpenSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, as well as Red Hat's Fedora Core distribution. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, expected in early 2007, will also include Xen.

Xen isn't just for Linux though. Beyond just Linux, Xen 3.0.4 also provides improved support for Windows.

XenSource is a sponsor of the Xen open source project, and a vendor of commercial Xen solutions, including the XenEnterprise suite . Earlier this year it lined up a deal with Microsoft to develop interoperability between Microsoft's Windows Server virtualization and the open source Xen hypervisor.

In November, XenSource released XenEnterprise for Windows as a challenge to the dominance of VMware in the Windows virtualization space.

With four point releases of Xen 3 in 2006, 2007 is likely to be an equally busy year for new releases of Xen. In a mailing list posting announcing the Xen 3.0.4 release, Xen developer Keir Fraser noted that 3.0.4 is an interim release. Additional features, such as Hardware Virtualization Manager (HVM) save and restore will be part of the Xen 3.0.5 release, which is expected in early 2007.

While the Xen 3.0 release last year provided support for hardware virtualization technology, including Intel's VT-x virtualization technology and the AMD Pacifica, Xen 3.0.4 offers more stabilization features.