I currently have a OpenSolaris installation with a ~1Tb RaidZ volume made up of 3 500Gb hard drives. This is on commodity hardware (ASUS NVIDIA based board on Intel Core 2).

I'm wondering whether anyone knows if XenServer or Oracle VM can be used to install 2009.06 and get given physical access to the three SATA drives so that I can continue to use the zpool and be able to use the Xen bits for other areas.

I'm thinking of installing the JeOS version of OpenSolaris, have it manage just my ZFS volume and some other stuff for work(4GB), then have a Windows(2GB) and Linux(1GB) VM (theres 8Gb RAM on that box) virtualised for testing things.

Currently I am using VirtualBox installed on OpenSolaris for the Windows and Linux testing but wondered if the above was a better alternative.


3 Disks -> OpenSolaris Guest VM, it loads the zpool and offers it to the other VMs via CIFS.

4 Answers 4


If it helps, I once had OpenSolaris installed in a VirtualBox VM running on Windows Vista x64 (quad core, 16gb RAM). I gave OpenSolaris access to the "raw" disks (8 as RAIDZ2) via the raw VMDK format. Once I determined that OpenSolaris might work, I exported the pool, and rebuilt the machine with HBAs, more disks, a rackmount chassis, and OpenSolaris running native.

Once the original disks were inserted, the pool imported immediately like a champ. (I wasn't actually expecting it to work.)

In retrospect though, I wish I had kept the original config. OpenSolaris running in a VM in Windows was VASTLY VASTLY VASTLY easier to set up and maintain. Literally just install and run. But on bare metal, I spent some 100-odd hairpulling hours getting OpenSolaris to work properly on the real hardware (every single piece supposedly "highly compatible").

Also, OpenSolaris running in a VM (on a vastly more power-conscious host), consumed a tiny fraction of the power that OpenSolaris does natively (due to lack of adequate power management features). It baffles me why anyone would actually want OpenSolaris on a notebook...

(I just recently made mistake #2: "Upgrading" to Nexenta CP 3.0. I relived most of those nightmares all over again, only this time horribly compounded and complicated by the bastard mix of OpenSolaris for almost anything CLI-related, a painfully crippled packaging system (compared to native GNU/Linux Debian), and a completely, absolutely broken GNOME session. (I'm using XFCE now as it very minimally "works". I'm actually thinking of going back to my original Vista host / Nexenta guest config with the "raw" disk kludge! (Unfortunately my home server doesn't support IOMMU).


I would suggest you just look at the xVM Hypervisor (http://hub.opensolaris.org/bin/view/Community+Group+xen/WebHome). This would allow your existing OpenSolaris install become the hypervisor for other OS but also allow you to use ZFS as the backend disk for the virtual disks of the VMs.

  • Xen in OpenSolaris is no longer really being maintained, especially as a Dom0. I can't find documentation to back this up, but when I asked the question of an Oracle virtualization dev at an OpenSolaris user's group six months ago, he said outright Zones/LDoms are the focus and Xen had little or no ongoing development resources.
    – notpeter
    Aug 11, 2010 at 16:37

If your processors supports VT-x and your chipset supports VT-d, you might want to consider VMWare ESXi. VMDirectPath (aka IOMMU or VT-d) lets you attach a physical PCIe device (or PCIe-PCI bridge and all it's attached PCI devices) to an individual VM. I use VMDirectPath to attach my LSI SAS card to Nexenta so ZFS gets direct access to disks. My Windows/Linux VMs access storage from OpenSolaris via CIFS/NFS without a problem, although their boot vmdks are on a VMFS formatted disk off my motherboard's onboard SATA.


No, you can't give a guest VM shared access to the zpool. What you can do is to share zfs file systems from the dom0 (via CIFS) to your guest VMs.

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