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The latest versions of CentOS and some other distros support Xen. I'm interested in installing Mandriva, SUSE, or Mepis as virtual machines under say CentOS running as ring zero under Xen. Unfortunately, the installation scripts for these all seem to give two options (or maybe I am simply too clueless to recognize additional options):
1. "takeover installation" to the one and only hard drive,
2. "dual boot installation" with Windows (but not with another linux).
I think that to install any of these as virtual machines under Qemu I need an iso image. Fine, but what about Xen? Has anyone installed virtual machines running some brand of linux under Xen on a desktop? Is this too hard for virtually clueless linux users?
Do I understand the first part of the process correctly? Install CentOS desktop (taking over the hard drive), then install Xen, technically making CentOS the ring zero running over the hypervisor, then (this is where I get lost) install one or two virtual machines possibly running a different OS?
(I've been using linux for years on a desktop computer, but apparently I have learned very little about installing linux without using someone else's canned script!)
I'm kind of confused by your situation. It seems to me you have some existing system with some OS installed and want to install CentOS to mess with the paravirtualization Xen provides. And it looks you are stuck installing CentOS. Realize that Xen is not some package you download and run inside your OS like VMWare or VirtualBox. CentOS with Xen means you run an OS with a Xen kernel.
So to do that, install CentOS. I'll let you decide if you want to wipe your system (reformat) or dual-boot. When it comes to the part to select packages (assuming you're using the graphical setup) this is where you choose to install Xen.
Check the radio button that you want to customize packages. Click Next. Click Virtualization, and check the checkbox for Xen (the only checkbox). Finish installation, and after reboot, you are booting with the Xen kernel.
If you installed a Desktop Environment, you can use virt-manager (Applications/System Tools in Gnome, i think) to start the VM management utility. You can also use the CLI tool virt-install to create your Mandriva, Suse and Mepis paravirtualized guests.