OpenXenManager alternative to XenCenter


Updated: February 9, 2013

OpenXenManager is a free clone of the XenCenter and is supposed to be fully compatible with both XenServer and the freeware XCP. The program comes bundled as a bunch of Python scripts, contained in a single archive, so the deployment is a breeze pretty much everywhere. You won't get any visual integration with your desktop theme, though.

You might want to consider this program if you're going for an all-free combo setup with XCP perhaps, or if you require GUI management from Linux, as OpenXenManager does run on non-Windows machine, unlike XenCenter, which is for Windows only. Now, the official page looks a little out of date, so you might want to take long-term support into consideration, too. But enough talking, let's OpenXenManager in action.

Teaser

Installation and first run

The use of the word installation is problematic, because there's really no installation. OpenXenManager is standalone and will run from your Download directory. The program is invoked by running the following command:

python window.py

The one thing that is required for it to work is the Python GTK VNC module, which you must install using your package manager. The exact name of the module will vary between distributions. You should probably search for python and then grep for gtk and vnc words. Here's an example on my CentOS 6.2 box:

No gtkvnc module

Then, you launch the main window and repeat all the usual steps you would in XenCenter. The good part is that you need not reconfigure your images, templates or storage repositories, as these are saved on the server, so you're instantly ready to go.

Server properties

Add storage repository

And a virtual machine in action:

Ubuntu running

Ubuntu running, more

More screenshots from a SUSE system:

OpenXenManager main window

Add new server

Some problems

However, OpenXenManager does have its quirks. I was not able to get the problem running well on Linux Mint 13 Maya. The interface did launch fine, but then the program staggered initiating the SSL-ed connection to the XenServer.

Moreover, it does not work well in proxied environments. Moreover, it has a hardcoded HTTPS connectivity only, so if you try to connect to servers via HTTP, it will fail. Finally, OpenXenManager does not work with other Xen products, so it cannot replace the Virtual Machine Manager.

Connection refused

Conclusion

If you are looking for a simple, free and non-Windows GUI manager for Xen-based bare-metal hypervisor appliances, then OpenXenManager is the tool you want, despite its ugly looks and some functionality deficiency. It allows for a good pairing with XCP, countering the Citrix Server-Center solution, for a nil price tag.

OpenXenManager gives you all the functionality the pair product does. However, I must admit that it is less robust and more prone to weird errors, especially relating to the network configuration. You will have to make sure your network does not have proxy or firewall rules that might interfere with the program's connectivity. Furthermore, it may not always work, with or without SSL tunneling. This is the risk you will have to weigh in your deployment strategy. All in all, though, it works okay.

Anyhow, this review slash tutorial is done.

Cheers.

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