8Jul/110

XenClient: a client side hypervisor

I'm sure we all know about virtualization and hypervisors, but what about running virtual machines on your pc / laptop? I'm sure we all have used Vmware, VirtualBox, VirtualPC or Parallels in the past to run multiple virtual machines on your machine. But these all require a parent operating system. For the most part, testing different operating systems / having seperate environments for specific projects work well in just such an environment.

But what if you want to have two completely separate environments running, that have no way of even knowing the other exists?

Example: a work laptop for your companies VP. You have him sign the AUP, warn him against using that laptop for personal tasks, and the possibility of losing sensetive company data if he did. We all know that 95% of the time those warnings go in one ear and out the other. Checking email, watching movies, surfing the internet - these are all "ok" things, right? We all know that there are so many attack vectors via media files and email links. We don't want to allow stuff like this in our corporate machines, do we?

What if a user had two environments available? One for general usage, and one specifically for work usage? Dual booting is inconvenient, but what about having something as easy as clicking play? This is what the Xenclient project tries to address.

Xenclient from Citrix is one option, however in my testing so far it is lacking quite a bit. Intel video cards are the only ones supported and a lot of expected functionality was just not in place yet.

VirtualComputer is another option, also based on the Xen subsystem, but with a much better implementation. I'm currently testing this, in fact I'm writing this blog post from the Chrome web browser that is embedded in the management interface.

I'll post some pictures of both when I can find a way to do screenshots, but for now - its a new technology, but one that I'm really starting to enjoy. Expect some further updates down the road.

--Badger