Does anyone know the difference between version of xen produced by xen.org and Citrix XenServer?

I can't seem to find any mention of the differences between the two?


6 Answers 6


As far as I can tell, Citrix XenServer offers the following on top of Xen.org:

  • Technical support (free and additional paid)
  • XenMotion, for moving active VMs across hosts
  • Windows GUI
  • Windows drivers
  • It'll work with Citrix Essentials for XenServer
  • Thanks. Can you see any reasons to go for xen.org rather than Citrix? May 12, 2009 at 22:18
  • Money can be a big, big deal, especially if there's no killer feature in Citrix's paid offering you can't do without.
    – ceejayoz
    May 13, 2009 at 15:14
  • XenMotion (or Live Migration) is available with the Xen.org hypervisors. GPL windows drivers are also available for the open source version of Xen. XCP also has a rich feature set relative to XenServer (wiki.xensource.com/xenwiki/XCP/XenServer_Feature_Matrix) Sep 20, 2011 at 0:58
  • Live migration is mainly a question of the underlying storage. It is possible since XEN 3.x (so it has been available with the open-versions as well).
    – Nils
    Jul 30, 2012 at 21:06

XenServer v5.5 is free and works very well IMHO. Just about to cancel our VMware ESX Server subscription...


@ceejayoz's answer is correct on the technical points. Note, however, that both xen.org and XenServer are available for free (see http://www.citrix.com/freexenserver). The value-add features Citrix offers may or may not be required in your environment, but I've found from personal experience that the full XenServer works very well for small-scale deployments.

XenServer will support Windows up to and including Windows 2008. Official Windows 7/2008 R2 support should be introduced soon; it does currently work, albeit with a command-line tweak, and it's not officially supported.


I should also mention that XenServer includes everything that you need to install on top of bare metal. With Xen.org you need to install it yourself which can be very challenging/fun/interesting (pick whichever one fits the context).


There is no difference in terms of Xen. They both provide the same xen hypervisor. It's what you get in addition that is important.

Citrix have taken Xen and are attempting to make it as user friendly as ESX - that means making it straight forward to use by most admins without them needing to delve in to linux on dom0 to get everything working. It's the management tools that are key. Have a look at the cli options for 'xm' and Citrix 'xe'. You can do so much more with 'xe'. Also take a look at the XenServer API for management and monitoring

So you have the pretty gui - although this was nothing compared to the VI client last time I checked. More importantly most of the dirty work that you need to do in dom0 for a stock xen install is hidden in Xen Server. Networking is a good example, you can do bridging and vlan trunking by hand in dom0, however XenServer hides this. You also have 'clustering' of xen hosts with XenServer, you'll need to write your own otherwise.

XenServer makse xen an option for companies that aren't stuffed full of techies who are happy to roll their own.

  • The XenCentre client now is as good as, if not easier to use, than VMware Virtual Infrastructure Client. It's easier to say for starters :-) Aug 21, 2009 at 17:28

This matrix is the best active summary of the differences: http://wiki.xensource.com/xenwiki/XCP/XenServer_Feature_Matrix

See also (a related question): Deploy Xen (In particular, see the part about Project Kronos)

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