October 2017 Update Citrix no longer provides the XenConvert tool for download and no longer supports it. You now have the only option to convert the physical computer to XenServer is to first convert it to VHD format (using a tool like Disk2VHDXenServer Conversion Manager feature.
Citrix Xen Server is a free enterprise-class server virtualization solution that competes directly with VMware ESXi. Both are free and it’s actually quite difficult to say which one is better.
Some people trust VMware for their longer experience with virtualization technologies, while others say Citrix has a better product. I’m not entirely sure, but in this post I will talk about one feature that VMware’s product does great: converting a physical server to a virtual one.
This is the easiest way to virtualize a physical server using VMware, but slightly more difficult using Citrix Xen. It’s actually not a complicated process, it just isn’t as easy to find for some weird reason than a VMware tool.
Note. There are two tools for converting physical to virtual (P2V) when working with Xen: Linux to Xen or Windows to Xen.
Move Windows Server to XenServer Host
To import a Windows computer, you will need the XenConvert tool, which comes in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. You can use this tool to convert the following types:
Convert one VHD or entire virtual machine to XVA or XenServer (VHD to XVA)
So where do you find the XenConvert tool? Well, this is not quite the most conspicuous place known to man. To download it, you have to log into MyCitrix, then click Downloads and finally click XenServer 5.
When you click on XenServer 5 in the Resources section, you will see a link to XenConvert for 32-bit and 64-bit. Quite frustrating and I don’t quite understand why they don’t have it on the main site, because it’s free!
Move Linux server to XenServer Host
To run a P2V Linux server on a XenServer host, you need to restart the computer to be converted and boot from the XenServer installation CD.
When you see the Welcome to XenServer screen, click OK and the installer will detect hardware, etc. After that, you will get four choices, one of which is
Converting an existing OS on this computer to a virtual machine (P2V)
And it’s all! Follow the rest of the prompts and the server will be virtualized. Once completed, you will need to connect the VIF to be able to connect to an external network.
If you are having trouble converting your Windows or Linux server to XenServer, please leave a comment and I will try to help! Enjoy!