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The Definitive Guide to the Xen Hypervisor

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  • David Chisnall
  • Prentice Hall
  • 9780132349710

I liked this book before I even opened it. First, it's a good looking book - follow the Amazon link and take a look at the cover - it's just plain pretty.. actually much better looking than it looks at Amazon.. and it's a good feeling book too.. creamy, smooth hardcover.. my goodness, this was a sensual treat and I hadn't even opened it yet! That may sound silly, but for real book lovers, a good looking book is part of the overall appeal, and frankly it's been a while since I've seen anything this attractive, so I had to mention it.

And then it is a Prentice Hall book. Over the past few years I have come to expect great quality from this publisher, and if they ever have disappointed me, I can't recall the instance just now. Just seeing "Prentice Hall" gives me confidence that I'm going to like it.. they have been that good.

And then the subject matter: Xen Hypervisor. I'm a bit rabid on the subject of virtualization in general; I think it is going to be the best thing since sliced bread and window screens, and of course since I am also predisposed to open source and convinced that it is also more important than anything else that has ever happened in the computing industry, well, how could I not want to read this?

So I spent several hours curled up in various positions with my nose buried in this, and I have to tell you that it exceeded my expectations: as much as I thought I would enjoy it, in reality it turned out to be even more interesting!

You see, what I did not realize about paravirtualization ( that's where the OS is rewritten for the hypervisor) is that it is ideal to use as a teaching tool. I also did not realize that today's Xen doesn't necessarily need to use paravirtualized kernels, but that's less important. What's exciting (and obvious in retrospect) is that developing a kernel for a Xen hypervisor is easier because you aren't dealing with real hardware but still gives every learning opportunity a bare metal effort would provide. As the preface notes, this book could be used as a text in an OS course, and that also means that you and I can learn not just about Xen, but the difficulties of OS kernel design in general - two books for the price of one, almost.

If you are interested in OS kernels, this might be a really good place to start. Throw in a few other general OS theory books and you could give yourself quite an education.

Did I mention that this is well written and easy to follow? The author explains difficult concepts unusually well.. this was a pleasure to read.

Tony Lawrence 2007-12-22 Rating: 4.5

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