Outreach Program Projects

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The Xen Project is a Linux Foundation collaborative project that develops the

  • Xen Hypervisor (for x86 and ARM)
  • The XAPI toolstack
  • Mirage OS

The project also has excellent relationships with its upstreams (Linux Kernel, the BSDs, QEMU and other projects) and upstreams such as Linux distributions. This is reflected in the project list, which contains many interesting cross-project development projects for applicants.

Finding a project that fits you

This page lists Xen Project development projects for Outreachy (formerly the Outreach Program for Women) that can be picked up by anyone! If you're interesting in hacking Xen Project code and want to become a part of our friendly developer community this is the place to start! Ready for the challenge?

To work on a project:

  • Find a peer-reviewed project from below that looks interesting. If you do not find an interesting issue, you can also go to Xen UserVoice, pick a few projects from there and ask on xen-devel@ whether the chosen project(s) would be suitable for Outreachy. Note that some of them may be too large or complex for Outreachy.
  • Send an email to the relevant mailing list (see Developer Mailing Lists) and let us know if you are interested in starting to work or applying on a specific project.
  • Post your ideas, questions, RFCs to the relevant mailing list sooner than later so you can get comments and feedback.
  • Easy test projects to fulfil the Make a Small Code Contribution Requirement: An easy way to get started (and show that you can set up the Xen Development Environment, fix an issue, build and test Xen, submit a patch, etc.) is to address a suitable number of Coverity Scan issues. Ask on xen-devel@ for a set of suitable issues and later you may ask for access to coverity scan or for a bug on /bugs.xenproject.org.

You have your own project idea: no problem!

  • If you have your own project idea, outline what you are trying to do on the mailing list. If you know the right list, post your project idea on mailing list. Failing that post on xen-devel and we can redirect you to the right list. Make sure you add OPW 2014 to the subject line.

It is a good idea to ...
The Xen Project has also participated in the Gnome Outreach Program for Women (OPW) and Google Summer of Code (GSoC) in the past. One of the things we learned by participating in these programs is that you will be more successful, happier and get more out of participating in internship programs, if you do a bit of prep-work before writing an application. Here is some stuff you can do:

  • Contact your mentor early and get to know him or her
  • Start hanging out on our IRC channel. You can use the #xen-opw IRC channel on freenode.net for now
  • You may want to ask the mentor for a couple of small bitesize work-items (such as reviewing someones patch, a bitesize bug, ...) and start communicating on the relevant mailing list. That helps you become familiar with our development process, the mentor and other community members and will help you chose the right project and help you decide whether the Xen project is for you.
  • Note that quite a few Xen maintainers used to be GSoC participants once. Feel free to ask community dot manager at xenproject dot org to put you in touch with them if you have questions about their experience.
  • Any work you submit before applying for a project should be based on xen-unstable development tree, if the project is Xen Hypervisor and/or tools related. Linux kernel related patches should be based on upstream kernel.org Linux git tree (latest version). XAPI and Mirage OS patches should be based on the right codeline too. Check out the navigation by audience section on the left to find resources.

More resources

Quick links to changelogs of the various Xen related repositories/trees: Please see XenRepositories wiki page!

Before to submit patches, please look at Submitting Xen Patches wiki page and the relevant Xen Project team page. This will contain more information.

If you have new ideas, suggestions or development plans let us know and we'll update this list!

Aspiring Participants

  • Please contact the mentor and CC the most appropriate mailing list
  • Get a bite-size task from the mentor before the application starts
  • If you feel comfortable with an idea, please put your name to an idea using the following format
|Review=(delete as addressed)
* {{Comment|~~~~:}} I am interested in this idea ... 
                    (note that you may also want to link to the e-mail thread with the mentor)
  • You will need to request write access to the wiki by filling out this form

Outreach Program Project Ideas

List of peer reviewed Projects

Domain support (PVOPS and Linux)

Enabling the 9P File System transport as a paravirt device

Date of insert: 01/20/2014; Verified: 02/13/2015; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Wei Liu <wei.liu2@citrix.com> Julien Grall <julien.grall@citrix.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: High
Skills Needed: Required skills include knowledge of kernel hacking, file system internals. Desired skills include: understanding of Xen PV driver structure, and VirtIO.
Description: VirtIO provides a 9P FS transport, which is essentially a paravirt file system device. VMs can mount arbitrary file system hierarchies exposed by the backend. The 9P FS specification has been around for a while, while the VirtIO transport is relatively new. The project would consist of implementing a classic Xen front/back pv driver pair to provide a transport for the 9P FS Protocol.
Outcomes: Expected outcome:
  • LKML patches for front and back end drivers.
  • In particular, domain should be able to boot from the 9P FS.

Xen Hypervisor Userspace Tools

CPU/RAM/PCI diagram tool

Date of insert: 01/30/2014; Verified: 09/17/2015; GSoC: yes
Technical contact: Andrew Cooper <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: Moderate, to Extremely Difficult (depending on which area of the problem you choose to tackle)
Skills Needed: Understanding of PC server hardware, Understanding of ACPI/SMBios tables, Linux scripting or kernel hacking (depending on which area of the problem you choose to tackle)
Description: It is often useful in debugging kernel, hypervisor or performance problems to understand the bus topology of a server. This project will create a layout diagram for a server automatically using data from ACPI Tables, SMBios Tables, lspci output etc. This tool would be useful in general Linux environments including Xen and KVM based virtualisation systems. There are many avenues for extension such as labelling relevant hardware errata, performing bus throughput calculations etc.
Outcomes: A tool is created that can either run on a live Linux system or offline using captured data to produce a graphical representation of the hardware topology of the system including bus topology, hardware device locations, memory bank locations, etc. The tool would be submitted to a suitable open-source project such as the Xen hypervisor project or XCP.

KDD (Windows Debugger Stub) enhancements

Date of insert: 01/30/2014; Verified: 09/17/2015; GSoC: yes
Technical contact: Paul Durrant <paul.durrant@citrix.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: C, Kernel Debuggers, Xen, Windows
Description: kdd is a Windows Debugger Stub for Xen hypervisor. It is OSS found under http://xenbits.xen.org/gitweb/?p=xen.git;a=tree;f=tools/debugger/kdd;h=fd82789a678fb8060cc74ebbe0a04dc58309d6d7;hb=refs/heads/master

kdd allows you to debug a running Windows virtual machine on Xen using standard Windows kernel debugging tools like WinDbg. kdd is an external debugger stub for the windows kernel. Windows can be debugged without enabling the debugger stub inside windows kernel by using kdd. This is important for debugging hard to reproduce problems on Windows virtual machines that may not have debugging enabled.

Expected Results:

  1. Add support for Windows 8.1 and 10 (x86, x64) to kdd
  2. Add support for Windows Server 2012 to kdd
  3. Enhance kdd to allow WinDbg to write out usable Windows memory dumps (via .dump debugger extension) for all supported versions
  4. Produce a user guide for kdd on Xen wiki page
Nice to have: Allow kdd to operate on a Windows domain checkpoint file (output of xl save for e.g.)
Outcomes: Code is submitted to xen-devel@xen.org for inclusion in the xen-unstable project.

Xen Hypervisor

Introducing PowerClamp-like driver for Xen

Date of insert: 01/22/2013; Verified: 09/22/2015; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: George Dunlap <george.dunlap@eu.citrix.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: Medium to difficult
Skills Needed: C programming. A solid knowledge of how to use spinlocks to avoid race conditions and deadlock. Ability to read diffs, ability to use git
Description: PowerClamp was introduced to Linux in late 2012 in order to allow users to set a system-wide maximum

power usage limit. This is particularly useful for data centers, where there may be a need to reduce power consumption based on availability of electricity or cooling. A more complete writeup is available at LWN.

These same arguments apply to Xen. The purpose of this project would be to implement a similar functionality in Xen, and to make it interface as well as possible with the Linux PowerClamp tools, so that the same tools could be used for both.

More Information
Outcomes: Not specified, project outcomes

Xen Hypervisor Userspace Tools

Refactor Linux hotplug scripts

Date of insert: 15/11/2012; Verified: 09/22/2015; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Paul Durrant <paul.durrant@citrix.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: Medium
Skills Needed: Knowledge of C and good level of shell scripting
Description: Current Linux hotplug scripts are all entangled, which makes them really difficult to understand or modify. The reason of hotplug scripts is to give end-users the chance to "easily" support different configuration for Xen devices.

Linux hotplug scripts should be analized, providing a good description of what each hotplug script is doing. After this, scripts should be cleaned, putting common pieces of code in shared files across all scripts. A Coding style should be applied to all of them when the refactoring is finished.

More Information
Outcomes: Not specified, project outcomes

PCI Pass-through improvements

Allowing guests to boot with a passed-through GPU as the primary display

Date of insert: 01/22/2013; Verified: Not updated in 2020; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: George Dunlap <george.dunlap@eu.citrix.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: Unknown
Skills Needed: Unknown
Description: One of the primary drivers of Xen in the "consumer market" of the open-source world is the ability to

pass through GPUs to guests -- allowing people to run Linux as their main desktop but easily play games requiring proprietary operating systems without rebooting.

GPUs can be easily passed through to guests as secondary displays, but as of yet cannot be passed through as primary displays. The main reason is the lack of ability to load the VGA BIOS from the card into the guest.

The purpose of this project would be to allow HVM guests to load the physical card's VGA bios, so that the guest can boot with it as the primary display.

Outcomes: Not specified, project outcomes

Improve PCIe Advanced Error Reporting (AER) handling for passed-through devices

Date of insert: 03/04/2014; Verified: Not updated in 2020; GSoC: Yes
Technical contact: Matt Wilson <msw@amazon.com>
Mailing list/forum for project: xen-devel@
IRC channel for project: #xen-devel
Difficulty: Medium-High
Skills Needed: Understanding of PC server hardware, PCIe, C
Description: Today the xen-pciback driver handles an AER event for passed-through PCI devices. If the device is assigned to a PV guest, it uses xenstore to request a reset from xen-pcifront. If the device is assigned to a HVM guest, the toolstack is notified and is expected to take corrective action. The toolstack support for taking corrective action is only implemented in xend, not libxl. For HVM guests ideally, the AER event would be propagated into the guest through the device model (qemu) so that the driver inside the guest can take reset actions.
Outcomes: Patches for libxl, qemu, and perhaps xen-pciback posted

Mirage OS

Several different projects (follow link)

For Mirage OS, please check out the Mirage OS Pioneer-Projects page. If you are interested in one of these projects, please e-mail mirageos-devel@lists.xenproject.org and CC the mentor from the page (the project will contain a link to the mentor's GitHub account, which normally contains an email address and IRC information). You can also ask questions on the #mirage IRC channel and usually find mentors on there.


No projects at this stage.

New Project Ideas

Please add new project ideas here, following

Conventions for Projects and Project Mentors

Rules and Advice for Adding Ideas

  • Be creative
  • Add projects into New Project Ideas or improve projects in Project Ideas that Need Review or more work through review comments.
  • Use the {{GSoC Project}} template to encode ideas on this page. Please read the Template Documentation before you do so.
  • Be specific: what do you want to be implemented; if at all possible provide an indication of size and complexity as described above to make it easier for an applicant to choose ideas
  • If you are willing to mentors those ideas, add your name and email to the idea.
  • Aspiring mentors should introduce themselves on the most appropriate Xen Project mailing list

Peer Review Goals

We strongly recommend and invite project proposers and project mentors to review each others proposals. When you review, please look out for

  • Can an intern get going and started with the information in the project description
  • Are any unstated assumptions in the proposal, is there undefined terminology, etc. in the proposal
  • Can the project completed in 3 months (assume that one month is needed for preparation)
  • Does the project meet Google Summer of Code goals, which are
    • Create and release open source code for the benefit of all
    • Inspire young developers to begin participating in open source development
    • Help open source projects identify and bring in new developers and committers
    • Provide interns the opportunity to do work related to their academic pursuits (think "flip bits, not burgers")
    • Give interns more exposure to real-world software development scenarios (e.g., distributed development, software licensing questions, mailing-list etiquette)

Peer Review Conventions

The {{GSoC Project}} template used to encode project listings, contains some review functionality. Please read the Template Documentation before you add a template, also please use the conventions below to make comments.

|Review=(delete as addressed)
* {{Comment|~~~~:}} Comment 1
* {{Comment|~~~~:}} Comment 2

Choosing Projects

We have a bi-weekly mentor meeting overlooked by our program management team, which are a core team of 2-3 mentors and a program administrator. This group will work with mentors to ensure that project proposals are of good quality and whether mentors are engaging with the program management team and particpants in the weeks before the application period ends.