XenServer

Convert VMware workloads

Use the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance to migrate VMware virtual machines to a XenServer environment.

As part of this migration, XenCenter helps you prepare the VMs for networking and storage connectivity. After converting your VMs to a XenServer environment, they’re almost ready to run.

Overview

XenServer allows you to:

  • Convert multiple VMs in parallel using one simple wizard

  • Map network settings between VMware and XenServer so your converted VMs can be up and running with the proper network settings

  • Select a storage location where you would like your new XenServer VMs to run

Notes:

  • XenCenter does not remove or change your existing VMware environment. VMs are duplicated onto your XenServer environment and not removed from VMware.

  • XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance supports converting VMware VMs with different storage such as thin provisioning, thick provisioning, IDE, and SCSI.

  • XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance does not require the source VMs to have VMware Tools installed. You can perform conversion on VMware VMs regardless of whether they have VMware Tools installed.

  • XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance cannot convert VMware VMs with four or more disks into XenServer VMs. Your VMware VMs must have three or fewer disks.

Understand XenServer

Before you can convert your environment, it is suggested that you become familiar with XenServer concepts. For more information, see Technical overview.

To successfully convert VMware virtual machines for your XenServer environment, perform the following tasks:

  • Set up a basic XenServer environment, including installing XenServer. For more information, see Quick start and Install.

  • Create a network in XenServer, assigning an IP address to a NIC. For more information, see Quick start.

  • Connect to storage. For more information, see Quick start.

Compare VMware and XenServer terminology

The following table lists the approximate XenServer equivalent for common VMware features, concepts, and components:

VMware Term XenServer Equivalent
VMware vSphere Client XenCenter (the management console for XenServer)
Cluster / Resource Pool Resource Pool
Data Store Storage Repository
vMotion Live migration
Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS) Workload Balancing
High Availability (HA) High Availability (HA)
vCenter Converter XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance
Role Based Access Control (RBAC) Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

Conversion overview

XenCenter and XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance create a copy of each targeted VM. After converting the targeted VM to a XenServer VM with comparable networking and storage connectivity, XenCenter imports the VM into your XenServer pool or host. You can convert as few as one or two VMs or perform batch conversions of an entire environment.

Note:

Before converting the VMs from vSphere, you must shut down the VMs (intended for conversion) on vSphere. XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance does not support converting a running VM using memory copied from vSphere to XenServer.

Also, before converting, ensure that a network and a storage controller exist in your VMware VM.

The conversion process requires four items:

  • XenCenter - the XenServer management interface includes a conversion wizard where you set conversion options and control conversion. You can install XenCenter on your Windows desktop. XenCenter must be able to connect to XenServer and the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.

  • XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance - a pre-packaged VM you import into the XenServer host or pool where you want to run the converted VMs. The virtual appliance converts the copies of the VMware VMs into XenServer virtual machine format. After conversion, it imports these copies into the XenServer pool or host.

  • XenServer standalone host or pool - the XenServer environment where you want to run the converted VMs.

  • VMware server. XenServer Conversion Manager requires a connection to a VMware server that manages the VMs you want to convert. This connection can be to a vCenter Server, ESXi Server, or ESX Server. The VMs are not removed from the VMware server. Instead, the XenServer Conversion Manager Virtual Appliance makes a copy of these VMs and converts them to XenServer virtual-machine format.

The following illustration shows the relationships between these components:

Conversion Manager virtual appliance facilitates communications

This illustration shows:

  1. How XenCenter communicates with XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.
  2. How the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance authenticates with the VMware server.
  3. How the VMware server responds to the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance during conversion.

The VMware server communicates with the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance only when the appliance queries the VMware server for environment information and disk data through-out the conversion.

Summary of how to convert VMs

You can configure the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance and start to convert VMs in just a few easy steps:

  1. Download the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance from the XenServer downloads page.

  2. Import the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance into XenServer using XenCenter.

  3. Configure the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance by using XenCenter.

  4. From XenCenter, launch the conversion wizard and start to convert VMs.

The sections that follow explain these steps in detail.

Prepare your environment

Before converting your VMware environment, you must create and prepare the target XenServer standalone host or pool to run the converted VMware VMs. Preparing your environment includes the following activities:

  1. Defining a strategy of how you convert your VMware environment. Do you want to convert 1 or 2 VMs? Do you want to convert your entire environment? Do you want to create a pilot first to ensure that your configuration is correct? Do you run both environments in parallel? Do you want to maintain your existing cluster design when you convert to XenServer?

  2. Planning your networking configuration. Do you want to connect to the same physical networks? Do you want to simplify or change your networking configuration?

  3. Installing XenServer on the hosts you want in the pool. Ideally, plug the NICs on the hosts into their physical networks before you begin installation.

  4. Creating a pool and performing any basic networking configuration. For example, do the following:

    • Configure a network to connect to the VMware cluster on the XenServer host (if the cluster is not on the same network as the XenServer host).

    • Configure a network to connect to the storage array. That is, if you use IP-based storage, create a XenServer network that connects to the physical network of the storage array.

    • Create a pool and add hosts to this pool.

  5. (For shared storage and XenServer pools.) Preparing the shared storage where you store the virtual disks and creating a connection to the storage, known as a Storage Repository (SR) on the pool.

  6. (Optional.) Although not a requirement for conversion, you might want to configure the administrator accounts on the XenServer pool to match those accounts on the VMware server. For information about configuring Role-based Access Control for Active Directory accounts, see Role-based access control.

Install XenServer and create a pool

Before you can convert VMware VMs, ensure that you create a XenServer pool or host where you want to run the converted VMs. This pool must have networking configured so it can connect to the VMware server. You might also want to configure the same physical networks on the XenServer pool that you have in the VMware cluster, or simplify your networking configuration. If you want to run the converted VMs in a pool, create a storage repository before conversion and add the shared storage to the pool.

If you are new to XenServer, you can learn about XenServer basics, including basic installation and configuration, by reading Quick start.

XenServer environment considerations

Before installing XenServer and importing the virtual appliance, consider the following factors that might change your conversion strategy:

Selecting the host where you want to run the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance. Import the virtual appliance into the stand-alone host or into a host in the pool where you run the converted VMs.

For pools, you can run the virtual appliance on any host in the pool, provided its storage meets the storage requirements.

The storage configured for the pool or host where you want to run the converted VMs must meet specific requirements. If you want to run your newly converted VMs in a pool, their virtual disks must be stored on shared storage. However, if the converted VMs run on a single standalone host (not a pool), their virtual disks can use local storage.

If you want to run the converted VMs in a pool, ensure that you add the shared storage to the pool by creating a storage repository.

Guest operating systems supported for conversion:

You can convert VMware VMs running the following Windows guest operating systems:

  • Windows 10 (64-bit) Enterprise edition [Latest tested version is 22H2]
  • Windows Server 2016 (64-bit) Standard (Desktop) edition
  • Windows Server 2019 (64-bit) Standard (Desktop) edition
  • Windows Server 2022 (64-bit) Standard (Desktop) edition

The following Linux operating systems are also supported:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.9 (64-bit) with the following configuration:
    • File system: EXT3 or EXT4
    • Boot partition type: btrfs, lvm, or plain
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.x (64-bit) with the following configuration:
    • File system: EXT3 or EXT4
    • Boot partition type: lvm or plain
  • Ubuntu 20.04 with the following configuration:
    • File system: EXT3 or EXT4
    • Boot partition type: lvm or regular

For more information about the guest operating systems supported by XenServer, see Guest operating system support.

Meet networking requirements

To convert VMware VMs, the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance needs connectivity to a physical network or VLAN that can contact the VMware server. (In the following sections, this network is referred to as the “VMware network”.)

If the VMware server is on a different physical network than the hosts in the XenServer pool, add the network to XenServer before conversion.

Note:

  • The time it takes for your VMs to be converted depends on the physical distance between your VMware and XenServer networks and also the size of your VM’s virtual disk. You can estimate how long the conversion will last by testing the network throughput between your VMware server and XenServer.

  • By default, the XenServer Conversion Manager uses HTTPS to download the VM’s virtual disk during VM conversion. To speed up the migration process, you can switch the download path to HTTP. For more information, see VMware’s article Improving transfer speed of task with library items.

Map your existing network configuration

XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance includes features that can reduce the amount of manual networking configuration needed after you convert from your existing VMware VMs to XenServer. For example, XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance will:

  • Preserve virtual MAC addresses on the VMware VMs and reuse them in the resulting XenServer VMs. Preserving the MAC addresses associated with virtual network adapters (virtual MAC addresses) may:

    • Help preserve IP addresses in environments using DHCP

    • Be useful for software programs whose licensing references the virtual MAC addresses

  • Map (virtual) network adapters. XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance can map VMware networks onto XenServer networks so that after the VMs are converted, their virtual network interfaces are connected accordingly.

    For example, if you map VMware ‘Virtual Network 4’ to XenServer ‘Network 0’, any VMware VM that had a virtual adapter connected to ‘Virtual Network 4’ is connected to ‘Network 0’ after conversion. XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance does not convert or migrate any hypervisor network settings. The wizard only alters a converted VM's virtual network interface connections based on the mappings provided.

    Note:

    You do not need to map all of your VMware networks on to the corresponding XenServer networks. However, if you prefer, you can change the networks the VMs use, reduce, or consolidate the number of networks in your new XenServer configuration.

    To gain the maximum benefit from these features, we recommend the following:

    • Before installing XenServer, plug the hosts into the networks on the switch (that is, the ports) that you would like to configure on the host.

    • Ensure that the XenServer pool can see the networks that you would like to be detected. Specifically, plug the XenServer hosts into switch ports that can access the same networks as the VMware cluster.

    Though it is easier to plug the XenServer NICs into the same networks as the NICs on the VMware hosts, it is not required. If you would like to change the NIC/network association, you can plug a XenServer NIC into a different physical network.

Prepare for the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance networking requirements

When you perform conversion, you must create a network connection to the network where the VMware server resides. XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance uses this connection for conversion traffic between the XenServer host and the VMware server.

To create this network connection, you must perform two tasks:

  • When you import the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance, specify the network you added for conversion traffic as a virtual network interface. You can do so by configuring interface 1 so it connects to that network.

  • Before you run the conversion wizard, add the network connecting VMware and XenServer to the XenServer host where you want to run the converted VMs.

By default, when you import the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance, XenCenter creates one virtual network interface associated with Network 0 and NIC0 (eth0). However, by default, XenServer setup configures NIC0 as the management interface, a NIC used for XenServer management traffic. As a result, when adding a network for conversion, you might want to select a NIC other than NIC0. Selecting another network might improve performance in busy pools. For more information about the management interface, see Networking.

To add a network to XenServer:

  1. In the Resource pane in XenCenter, select the pool where you would like to run XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.

  2. Click the Networking tab.

  3. Click Add Network.

  4. On the Select Type page, select External Network, and click Next.

  5. On the Name page, enter a meaningful name for the network (for example, "VMware network") and a description.

  6. On the Interface page, specify the following:

    • NIC. The NIC that you want XenServer to use to create the network. Select the NIC that is plugged in to the physical or logical network of the VMware server.

    • VLAN. If the VMware network is a VLAN, enter the VLAN ID (or "tag").

    • MTU. If the VMware network uses jumbo frames, enter a value for the Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) between 1500 and 9216. Otherwise, leave the MTU box its default value of 1500.

      Note:

      Do not select the Automatically add this network to new virtual machines check box.

  7. Click Finish.

Meet storage requirements

Before you convert batches of VMware VMs, consider your storage requirements. Converted VM disks are stored on a XenServer storage repository.

This storage repository must be large enough to contain the virtual disks for all the converted VMs you want to run in that pool. For converted machines that only run on a standalone host, you can specify either local or shared storage as the location for the converted virtual disks. For converted machines running in pools, you can only specify shared storage.

To create a storage repository:

  1. In the Resource pane in XenCenter, select the pool where you intend to run the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.

  2. Click the Storage tab.

  3. Click New SR and follow the instructions in the wizard. For more instructions, press F1 to display the online help.

XenServer requirements

You can run VMs converted with this release of XenServer Conversion Manager on the following versions of XenServer:

  • XenServer 8 Stream

  • Citrix Hypervisor 8.2 Cumulative Update 1

VMware requirements

XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance can convert VMware VMs from the following versions of VMware:

  • vCenter Server 6.7.x, 7.x, and 8.x
  • vSphere 6.7.x, 7.x, and 8.x
  • ESXi 6.7.x, 7.x, and 8.x

Note:

XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance cannot convert VMware VMs with four or more disks into XenServer VMs. Your VMware VMs must have three or fewer disks.

Your VMware VMs must also have a network and a storage controller configured.

Prepare to import the virtual appliance

Before importing the virtual appliance, note the following information and make the appropriate changes to your environment, as applicable.

Download the virtual appliance

The XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance is packaged in XVA format. You can download the virtual appliance from the XenServer downloads page. When downloading the file, save it to a folder on your local hard drive (typically, but not necessarily, on the computer where XenCenter is installed). After the .xva file is on your hard drive, you can import it into XenCenter.

Virtual appliance prerequisites

The XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance requires a minimum of:

  • Citrix Hypervisor 8.2 Cumulative Update 1, XenServer 8

  • Disk space: 30 GB of disk space

  • Memory: 6 GB

  • Virtual CPU allocation: 2 vCPU

Import and configure the virtual appliance

The XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance is a single pre-installed VM designed to run on a XenServer host. Before importing it, review the prerequisite information and considerations in the section called Preparing to import the virtual appliance.

Import the virtual appliance into XenServer

To import the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance into the pool or host where you want to run the converted VMs, use the XenCenter Import wizard:

  1. Open XenCenter. Right-click on the pool (or host) into which you want to import the virtual appliance package, and select Import.

  2. Browse to locate the virtual appliance package.

  3. Select the pool or a home server where you want to run the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.

    Note:

    A home server is the host that provides the resources for a VM in a pool. While it can, a XenServer attempts to start the VM on that host, before trying other hosts. If you select a host, the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance uses this host as its home server. If you select the pool, the virtual appliance automatically starts on the most suitable host in that pool.

  4. Choose a storage repository on which to store the virtual disk for the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance and then click Import. To add a storage repository to the pool, see the section called “Meet Storage Requirements.” You can choose either local or shared storage.

  5. Ensure the network to be used for conversion (which connects the VMware server to the XenServer host) is selected as the network associated with interface 1 (“virtual NIC 1”).

    • If the correct network does not appear beside interface 1, use the list in the Network column to select a different network.

    • If you have not added the VMware network that is on a different physical network than the pool, do the following:

      1. Exit the wizard.
      2. Add the network to the pool.
      3. Rerun the wizard.

      For more information, see To add a network to XenServer.

      Warning:

      Do NOT configure NIC0 to your customer network. Assign NIC0 only to "Host internal management network.”

  6. Leave the Start VM after import check box enabled, and click Finish to import the virtual appliance.

  7. After importing the .xva file, the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance appears in the Resources pane in XenCenter.

Configure the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance

Before you can use the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance to convert VMware VMs, configure it using the XenCenter Console tab:

  1. After importing the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance, click the Console tab.

  2. Read the license agreement. To view the contents of the license agreement, open the URL in a web browser. Press any key to continue.

  3. Enter and confirm a new root password for the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance. We recommend selecting a strong password.

  4. Enter a host name for the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.

  5. Enter the domain suffix for the virtual appliance. For example, if the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for the virtual appliance is citrix-migrate-vm.domain4.example.com, enter domain4.example.com.

  6. Enter y to use DHCP to obtain the IP address automatically for the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance. Otherwise, enter n and then enter a static IP address, subnet mask, and gateway for the VM.

  7. Review the host name and network setting and enter y when prompted. This step completes the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance configuration process.

  8. When you have successfully configured the appliance, a login prompt appears. Enter the login credentials and press Enter to log in to the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance.

Convert VMware VMs

When you convert VMware VMs, they are imported into the XenServer pool or standalone host where you are running the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance. Converted VMs retain their original VMware settings for the virtual processor and virtual memory.

Before you start the conversion procedure, ensure that the following is true:

  • You have the credentials for the XenServer pool (or standalone host). Either the root account credentials or a Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) account with the Pool Admin role configured is acceptable.
  • You have the credentials for the VMware server containing the VMs you want to convert. The conversion procedure requires you connect the XenServer Conversion Manager Console to the VMware server.
  • The VMware virtual machines to convert are powered off.
  • The VMware virtual machines to convert have a network and a storage controller configured.
  • The XenServer pool (or host) that run the converted VMs is connected to a storage repository. The storage repository must contain enough space for the converted virtual disks.
  • If you want to run your newly converted VMs in a pool, the storage repository must be shared storage. However, if the converted VMs run on a single standalone host (not a pool), you can use local storage.
  • The virtual disks of the VM to convert are less than 2 TiB.
  • XenServer pool (or host) has networks that the converted VMs use.

To convert your VMware VMs into VMs that can run in a XenServer environment:

  1. Ensure that the virtual appliance is installed and running on the XenServer host or pool where you want to import the VMs.
  2. In XenCenter, go to Pool > Conversion Manager.

    The Conversion Manager window opens. Wait while the wizard connects to your virtual appliance.

  3. Click New Conversion.
  4. In the New Conversion wizard, enter the credentials for the VMware server:

    • Server. Enter the IP address or FQDN for the VMware server that contains the VMs you want to convert to XenServer.
    • Username. Enter a valid user name for this VMware server. This account must either be a VMware admin account or have a Root role.
    • Password. Enter the password for the user account you specified in the Username box.

    Click Next. XenCenter connects to the VMware server.

  5. In the Virtual Machines page, select from the list of VMs hosted in the VMware server the VMs that you want to convert. Click Next.

  6. In the Storage page, select the storage repository you want to use during conversion. This storage repository is where the VMs and the virtual disks that you are creating are stored permanently.

    This tab indicates the proportion of available storage that the virtual disks of the converted VMs consume.

  7. On the Networking page, for each VMware network listed, select the XenServer network to map it to. You can also select whether to preserver virtual MAC addresses. Click Next.

  8. Review the options you configured for the conversion process. You can click Previous to change these options. To proceed with the configuration shown, click Finish.

    The conversion process begins. Conversion from ESXi or vSphere can take several minutes depending on the size of the virtual disks.

The Conversion Manager window displays conversions in progress and completed conversions.

Steps after conversion

After conversion, in XenCenter perform the following steps on your newly converted VMs:

On Windows Machines:

  1. On Windows VMs, depending on your Microsoft licensing model, you might have to reactivate the VM’s Windows license. This reactivation happens because the Windows operating system perceives the conversion as a hardware change.

  2. On Windows VMs, install XenServer VM Tools for Windows to obtain high-speed I/O for enhanced disk and network performance. XenServer VM Tools for Windows also enable certain functions and features, including cleanly shutting down, rebooting, suspending, and live migrating VMs. You can download the XenServer VM Tools for Windows from the XenServer downloads page.

If you are working with a VM that does not have XenServer VM Tools installed, a XenServer VM Tools not installed message appears on the General tab in the General pane.

Note:

XenServer VM Tools for Windows must be installed on each Windows VM for the VM to have a fully supported configuration. Although Windows VMs function without XenServer VM Tools for Windows, their performance can be impacted.

Enable VNC On Linux machines

On Linux VMs, configure the VNC server. For more information, see Enable VNC for Linux VMs.

Note:

The VNC password must have at least six characters.

Other conversion tasks

The Manage Conversions window enables you to perform other tasks related to converting VMs. These tasks include clearing jobs, saving a summary of jobs, retrying jobs, canceling jobs, and displaying the log file.

To clear all jobs:

  1. Select Clear All.
  2. When prompted to confirm this action, click Yes to continue.

To save a summary of jobs:

  1. Click Export All.
  2. Specify where to save the CSV file.
  3. Click Save.

To retry a job:

  1. Select the job from the list.
  2. Click Retry.

Note:

The Retry option is only enabled for failed or canceled jobs.

To cancel a job:

  1. Select the job from the list.
  2. Click Cancel.

Note:

Cancel jobs is only enabled for queued or running jobs.

To save the conversion log file for a single job:

  1. Select the job from the list.
  2. From the logs menu, Click Fetch Selected Log.
  3. Specify where to save the log file.

To save the conversion log file for all jobs:

  1. From the logs menu, Click Fetch All Logs.
  2. Specify where to save the log file.

To display conversion details:

  1. Select the job from the list.

    The information is displayed in the Details panel.

Troubleshoot conversion

This section provides information about troubleshooting the conversion process and converted VMs.

Problems starting a converted VM

In general, conversion runs smoothly and XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance converts VMs without any issues. However, in some rare cases, you might receive errors when attempting to open converted VMs. The following sections provide some guidance on resolving errors and other issues.

Blue screen with Windows STOP code 0x0000007B

This stop code indicates that XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance was unable to configure a Windows device that is critical to boot in XenServer for the first time. Save the logs and send them to Support for further guidance.

Windows product activation

Depending on your licensing model, an error message on system activation might appear when you attempt to start a Windows VM.

Lost network settings in a Windows VM

If you import a Windows VM from an ESXi server to XenServer, the IPv4/IPv6 network settings can be lost. To retain the network settings, reconfigure the IPv4/IPv6 settings after completing the conversion.

Unable to start VMware SCSI disk

If a VMware VM boots from a SCSI disk but also has IDE hard disks configured, the VM might not boot when you convert it to XenServer. This issue occurs because the migration process assigns the IDE hard disks lower device numbers than SCSI disks. However, XenServer boots from the hard disk assigned to device 0. To resolve this issue, rearrange the virtual disk position in XenCenter so that the VM reboots from the virtual disk that contains the operating system.

To change the position of the virtual disk containing the operating system:

  1. In the XenCenter Resources pane, select the powered off guest VM.

  2. Select the Storage tab.

  3. From the Virtual Disks list, select the virtual disk containing the operating system and then click Properties.

  4. In the virtual disk’s Properties dialog, click the vm_name tab to display device options.

  5. From the Device Position list, select 0 and Click OK.

Problems during conversion

If you experience problems or errors when converting VMs, try exporting the VMware VM as an OVF package. If you cannot export the VMware VM as an OVF package, Conversion Manager cannot convert this VM. Use the error messages you receive when attempting to export the VM as an OVF package to troubleshoot and fix the issues with your VMware VM. For example, you might have to configure a network or a storage controller before the VM can be exported as an OVF package or converted. For more information about troubleshooting your VMware VMs, see the VMware documentation.

If you see any errors when converting Linux VMs, remove the converted VM, restart the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance and retry.

Logs of failed conversions are stored in the XenServer Conversion Manager virtual appliance and can be retrieved by clicking Fetch All Logs on the Conversion Manager window. When you contact Support to raise any issues, we recommend that you provide the conversion log file and, additionally, a full server status report for troubleshooting. For more information, see Creating a Server Status Report.

Convert VMware workloads