There are a number of Xen based virtualization products on the market, and like with other new software, there is a need to try them out in a lab environment before doing production installation on customer sites.

I'm wondering if you could possibly run Oracle VM, XenServer or Virtual Iron inside VMware ESX, ESXi or VMware Server for testing purposes.

Or essentially, is there any way to avoid purchasing a new hardware cluster for each product?

update> I've now virtualized a complete Oracle VM environment within VMware without issues. Naturally all the guests are PVM. This makes is possible for me to gain experience with the Oracle VM platform without a hardware budget. Thanks everyone.

7 Answers 7


You can run Xen under VMware but you will only be able to run Linux guests (and other Xen-enabled guests).

Without hardware virtualisation support Xen provides only paravirtualisation which requires modified system software in the guests. Most Linux distributions come with Xen-compatible kernels.

The virtual machine created by VMware is a computer without hardware virtualisation support. I.e. VMware does not virtualise hardware virtualisation features.

So you can run Xen and run Linux guests within it.

But you cannot run Windows guests inside Xen.

(And yes, it's fast enough. The problem is just the missing hardware virtualisation.)

  • I decided to give it a shot, and successfully virtualized a complete Oracle VM environment with manager, utility vm servers and an iscsi target server on VMware ESX 3.0. Two HA guests with OEL5 and Oracle 10g are running quite nicely. In short I'm getting valuable experience with Oracle VM without investing in any new hardware.
    – Roy
    Nov 8, 2009 at 20:46
  • I haven't tried this yet, but I think you can run Windows guests as long as you create the template (and install the paravirtualization drivers) on a HVM capable machine.
    – Roy
    Nov 10, 2009 at 18:27
  • The virtual machine created by VMware is a computer without hardware virtualisation support. Nov 11, 2009 at 9:17
  • Yes, this shortcomming have been metioned a few times. As for running PV enabled Windows guests, they unfortunately also require hardware support so it's pretty much RHEL and OEL only.
    – Roy
    Nov 13, 2009 at 20:49

As the others note, lack of VT extensions are going to rule most hypervisors out. Not to mention overheads.

I have in the past used XenSource beneath another hypervisor (VMware mostly) for some specific staging tests. That works, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

Even if you do getting running you're likely to run into so many quirks that it doesn't justify itself as a reliable testbed. If hardware is a constraint you'd probably be better off dual booting.

  • Hardware is always a constraint, especially when we're talking virtualization hardware and shared storage. In my particular case, all the lab hardware is already tied up in ESX and XenServer clusters. It's hard to justify additional hardware for Oracle VM.
    – Roy
    Nov 6, 2009 at 11:43

I use cheap desktops for this testing these days; you can get >4GB memory and VT CPU's.

  • +1 It's a good idea, but when you have added HBAs and rack mounting kits the price of a blade server might not be far off. Great if you can settle for iSCSI and put them on your desk.
    – Roy
    Nov 8, 2009 at 20:55

The virtual CPUs presented by VMWare to each VM do not support hardware virtualisation.


Not really, you can fiddle about with things and get Xen to boot inside VMware Workstation, but then starting guest OS's and so on is generally not going to work well at all.

It's much less hassle to buy a pair of very cheap HP ML110's or similar, but if you really want to do it, here's the instructions to install XenServer (which is very similar to both Oracle VM and Virtual Iron) on VMware workstation.

One thing to note is that Virtual Iron has already been discontinued after it's purchase by Oracle, instead the features from it will be included in Oracle VM's next versions.


Even if you can trick it into working, you will not have a satisfactory experience.

  • Not true. For educational purposes and functional testing we now run Oracle VM Server in VirtualBox, Parallels and VMware Workstation. Alle are working quite well.
    – Roy
    Oct 16, 2017 at 13:36
  • @roy but this stack exchange site relates to production enterprise systems, I think my answer stands in that context
    – Rob Moir
    Oct 16, 2017 at 14:08
  • The question was specifically about lab environments. I think you will agree that labs for training, testing and issue re-production are important in many or even most corporate and enterprise environments. In more recent years, using tools like git, Vagrant and VirtualBox, our engineers, developers and architects can create fully functional Oracle VM environments on their laptop, often in a matter of minutes. While certainly not suited for everything, it really is very useful for a range of tasks.
    – Roy
    Oct 16, 2017 at 15:16

If you use only paravirtualized guests, Xen will work fine under VMWare. Paravirtualized guests don't need any special hardware support.

Its when you try to run unmodified guests that require hardware support under Xen (VT, AMD-V) that you'll get into trouble. The virtual processor given to Xen by VMWare will not have those extensions regardless of the underlying hardware.

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