XenServer 5.6 OVF Appliance Wizards

posted by Jeff Gee

A hidden jewel in XenServer 5.6 release is the OVF Appliance Wizards.  There are three wizards aptly named:

  • Appliance Import Wizard
  • Appliance Export Wizard
  • Disk Image Import Wizard

Each wizard opens up the possibility for users to take XenServer 5.6 to new places.  Let’s take a quick look.

Appliance Import Wizard

This wizard provides the primary mechanism to import OVF packages.  This may seem simple  enough, however, this wizard not only imports XenServer OVF packages, it also imports OVF packages created by other vendors.  As XenServer users, we now have the ability to import OVF created by VMware and Oracle products.  Behind the scenes, the wizard manages the intricacies of VMware and Oracle’s OVF format as well as the .vmdk and .vdi virtual disks.   But that is only the first step.  The Appliance Import Wizard must also ‘Fixup’ the guest operating systems to run in a XenServer environment.  This process can be tricky given the myriad of Linux distributions and Windows versions out there.  The wizard aims to do its best given these circumstances.  As for XenServer derived OVF packages, the wizard manages a list of capabilities available to produces of the OVF package.  Take a look a this short video for more:

Appliance Export Wizard

This wizard provides users to create XenServer based OVF packages supporting an array of configuration options.  Users have the option to export OVF packages containing one or more virtual machines.  These OVF packages can be archived into a single file (easing transport), compressed, encrypted, digitally signed and for virtual appliance purposes, contain EULAs.  This short video describes the process:

Disk Import Wizard

This wizard offers users something that they’ve longed for:  a wizard driven process for to import non-XenServer virtual disks.  The wizard provides direct import (no disk conversion required) for .vmdk, .vhd., .vdi and .wim content.   This opens the door to all of those stranded virtual machines we cannot live without and puts the nail in the coffin of keeping legacy hypervisors around just for the purpose of running that special VM.   As with importing OVF from non-XenServer sources, Fixups are  still part of the process and even more important.  We’ll discuss the Fixup process in more detail in future posts.  Check out this video to view how to import a disk:

Looks good

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