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Citrix Offers a Bare-Metal Desktop/Laptop Hypervisor

by Abel Avram on May 14, 2010 |

Citrix XenClient is a bare-metal hypervisor running on desktop PCs using the Intel vPro technology which allows it to create virtual machines taking advantage of 3D and HD graphic capabilities of the graphic card installed on the machine. XenClient is based on the same technology as XenServer, a server virtualization platform based on Xen Hypervisor.

Most desktop virtualization solutions, like VMware Workstation or Virtual PC, are based on hardware emulation, a software layer installed between the operating system and the virtual machine, creating a VM environment. This solution induces significant performance penalties because there is another OS between the VM and the hardware. XenClient runs directly on the metal providing almost native speed and offers improved security through VM isolation. An user can run multiple VMs in the same time and can open applications from different VMs on the same desktop having the option to copy&paste between applications. Although the applications appear on the same desktop they are isolated from each other.

XenClient can be used in conjunction with Synchronizer, a XVA virtual appliance running on XenServer. An IT administrator can create VMs for each user in the enterprise and deploy them on the Synchronizer. The user will load his VM from there through a secure connection, and XenClient also uses the Synchronizer to backup VMs. The user can also create a VM from an OS installation disk.

Some of the notable requirements to run XenClient are:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7
  • Graphics: Intel integrated graphics GMA 4500, Intel® HD Graphics
  • Intel vPro
  • Memory: 4GB recommended

The hardware compatibility list is pretty short right now but it is supposed to grow in the future:

  • HP EliteBook 6930p, 2530p, 8440p*
  • Dell Latitude E4300, E6400, E6410*, E6500, E6510*
  • Dell Optiplex 780
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X200, T400, T500

Xen offers both a XenServer and a XenClient edition for free.

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