Port Your OS to a Xen VM for a Safe and Reliable Separation Solution

Porting Operating Systems to Run in Xen Virtual Machines

Semiconductor manufacturers are creating new System on Chips that allow embedded system developers to design consolidated architectures to reduce size, weight, power, and cost. However, combining software functions onto a single computing resource creates safety and security concerns due to reduced fault containment and increased coupling between software components.

This paper assesses the suitability of common separation solutions for use in embedded systems and explain our preference for Xen, an open source Type I hypervisor. We also examine reasons for porting operating systems to run in virtual machines, also known as paravirtualization, and evaluate how certain properties of operating systems can impact this task. Finally, we conclude with lessons learned from our efforts paravirtualizing a number of operating systems.

Topics covered in this paper:

  • The need for separation in modern systems
  • Software separation solutions
  • Paravirtualizing operating systems