XCP-ng 8.3 Beta 1

Release Jun 22, 2023

We are proud to announce the release of XCP-ng 8.3 beta 1.

Feedback needed! As usual, your feedback on any issues as well as suggestions are very welcome. We opened a dedicated thread on our forum to discuss it. You can also check the "How to test" tips below.

Like the alpha version before it, this is a pretty solid pre-release. The main reason it's called beta is because it will continue to evolve before the final 8.3 release.

Before reading the rest of this Beta 1 release announcement, you might want to first read the "Alpha release announcement" as well as the follow-up dev blog, "News about 8.3 Alpha":

XCP-ng 8.3 Alpha
XCP-ng 8.3 first alpha release is now available. Download and try it!
News about 8.3 Alpha
Discover what’s going on with our future XCP-ng 8.3 release!

They address many topics which we won't repeat here. This article will focus on the main visible changes in this Beta 1 release.

⏫ Installation and upgrade

As usual, there's 2 ways to get XCP-ng 8.3 running on your machine: fresh install or upgrade from a previous XCP-ng version.

💿 Install

Installation process documentation: https://xcp-ng.org/docs/install.html

🔼 Upgrade from XCP-ng 8.2 or earlier

Only upgrades using the installation ISO are supported. Just insert the ISO, it will detect older versions of XCP-ng and then follow the instructions.

Upgrade process documentation: https://xcp-ng.org/docs/upgrade.html

You can rollback later in case something is wrong.

🔼 Alpha testers: update from XCP-ng 8.3 alpha

Just update your XCP-ng 8.3 alpha as usual (using Xen Orchestra or yum update).

However, feedback is most welcome on the installer itself (see below), so don't hesitate to test the installer too.

🔄 After the installation: stay up to date

After installing XCP-ng 8.3 beta 1, don't forget to update regularly, as the development continues!

All updates are announced in the dedicated forum thread.

✨ Main changes (and thus, main test focus!)

The biggest changes, the ones which will require the most feedback from testers are:

  • IPv6 support.
  • A completely new way of generating our installation images, as well as changes in the installer itself.

🌐 IPv6 support for the control domain

Started more than two years ago, this feature was patiently contributed to upstream components such as XAPI, xha, sm, xcp-networkd

The big remaining piece of this complex puzzle was the installer, and this is now available!

The installer will now let you choose between IPv4-only, IPv6-only, and dual stack. In case of dual stack, the management interface will use the IPv4 address primarily.

Known issues:

  • At the moment of this release, Xen Orchestra has an issue which makes it impossible to connect to an IPv6 pool. This will be fixed in the next release on the 30th of June, and possibly even earlier though a patch release.
  • We are investigating an issue with storage migration (VM, disk) inside an IPv6-only pool. When a fix is available, we will publish it.
  • Not all update mirrors are ready for IPv6 yet. Which means you may get installation or update errors when an IPv6-only dom0 tries to contact a mirror which doesn't speak IPv6. Until this is solved, you may bypass our mirror redirector by specifying a chosen mirror in /etc/yum.repos.d/xcpng.repo. Contact us if you need help. We will always be happy to help someone help us test XCP-ng!

💿 A new way to generate  installation images

For a user, this doesn't mean much. But for us, this is important: we transitioned from a clunky, manual ISO generation process based on XenServer installation ISOs, to a fully automated process, from scratch.

You might see where I'm heading: despite our precautions and internal tests, such a change comes with risks of regression. Especially in the booting area: booting is hard, because of legacy, firmware disparity, and firmware bugs. So, despite we know that our installation ISOs will boot on most hardware, like the previous ones did, we need your help to make sure it boots on more hardware than before, not less!

These new ISO generation scripts are also what allows us to do nightly builds of the installer images. For now, these builds are internal, but soon they will become public, thus permitting a faster feedback loop.

How to test: you don't even need to install XCP-ng. Put the ISO on a USB stick, a DVD, a bootable hard disk, a virtual boot device for a server, any known means to boot from an ISO, and check it boots. In UEFI mode, in Legacy BIOS mode... Once you see the "select keyboard layout" page, you can abort here: this won't write anything on the disks.

🚀 Installer improvements

Most of the work done on the installer was already detailed in https://xcp-ng.org/blog/2023/02/27/news-about-8-3-alpha/.

Here's a quick list of the changes:

  • memtest86+ in the installer was updated to version 6, now with EFI support.
  • Default local SR now defaults to EXT, which we recommend over the thick-provisioned LVM in most cases.
  • The xen-pciback.hide boot parameter, useful for PCI passthrough, will now be retained when upgrading XCP-ng.
  • Removed the "Do you want to install any supplemental packs?" dialog at the end of installation.
  • Always display the primary disk selection screen, even if only one disk is fitting. The fact that is was automatically skipped when only one disk meets the prerequisites often caused users to mistake the Local SR creation screen for the primary disk selection.
  • Improved contrast on the installer's welcome screen in BIOS mode.
  • A few minor fixes.

There are also changes which we did develop but could not include yet in XCP-ng:

  • LACP bond support during installation
  • Better support of previously used RAID devices

The reason is that these are consequent code changes which we want to get into the upstream installer code, not something that we maintain forever as a forked installer. This is how healthy open source should be. And unfortunately, our contribution is currently stalled at the upstream maintainers level (mostly by lack of time, as far as we can tell).

🎯 Other noteworthy changes

And finally, all the rest! As you can see, we are working hard.

Basic vTPM support

vTPMs can be created (1 per VM) and used (notably to make Windows 11 happy).

This remains limited in scope for now: the VMs can't be exported, suspended or migrated.

The final XCP-ng 8.3 release will have the complete feature set.

Xen Orchestra Lite (XO Lite)

XO Lite will be a standalone web management interface which lets you manage a single pool, directly from the IP address or hostname of the coordinator host. It is currently in development, and a pre-release is available from any XCP-ng 8.3 host.

Recent visible changes include:

  • Ability to change the VMs' power state
  • Ability to select VMs
  • Ability to copy VMs
  • Pool tasks
  • Improved dashboard

Latest dev blog: https://xen-orchestra.com/blog/xo-lite-components/

Better hardware support

Among the notable hardware support improvements, let's mention Intel Sapphire Rapids and recent AMD Ryzen.

Dynamic Memory Control is coming back!

In the announcement for the 8.3 alpha release, we said that XenServer had decided to drop DMC support, and that we would retain it, but discourage its use, which can cause serious issues (VM crashes) when not used with enough caution.

This has changed: XenServer canceled their decision, and chose to keep supporting this feature. However, there still is a lot to improve in this area, it will be a big work, and we still advise to either avoid it, or use it with caution, meanwhile.

Technically, nothing changed at the XCP-ng 8.3 level: the feature was already present in the alpha release, and still is.

ℹ️ Help us make XCP-ng 8.3 another excellent release!

A beta release is nothing without its testers. We now hand it to the community of XCP-ng users!

Forum thread for feedback and discussion: https://xcp-ng.org/forum/topic/7464/xcp-ng-8-3-beta

See you soon!


Samuel Verschelde

XCP-ng release manager: pushes the big red "Release" button. Part developer, part packager, part QA, part manager. Open Source enthusiast since 2002.