Citrix is donating the open-source Xen hypervisor to the Linux Foundation. The donation was announced Monday, and the foundation has committed to supporting Xen with continued development and maintenance.

In a posting on the Linux Foundation's blog, Executive Director Jim Zemlin said that, about a year ago, Citrix started focusing on formalizing Xen's governance practices and looking for a vendor-neutral home. Zemlin noted that the Xen contribution does not change the status of the Open Virtualization Alliance's open-source KVM virtualization Relevant Products/Services software Relevant Products/Services.

"The advancement of both benefits developers, users and vendors," he said, adding that open source is "predicated on freedom of choice, so supporting a range of open source virtualization platforms and facilitating collaboration across open source communities is a priority" for the foundation. The Linux Foundation regularly participates in activities supporting KVM at annual conferences.

10 Million Users

The Xen Project at the foundation has already received expressions of support from Amazon Web Services, AMD, CA Technologies, Google, Intel Relevant Products/Services, Oracle, Samsung and Verizon. Citrix recently donated its open-source cloudware CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation. In both cases, the company apparently wanted to widen the base of contributors for the respective software products, as well as widen their appeal to companies concerned about vendor lock-in.

There are an estimated 10 million users for Xen, one of several x86-based hypervisors. Other hypervisors include VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM, which stands for Kernel-based Virtual Machine. A hypervisor is a virtual Relevant Products/Services machine monitor that creates and manages virtual machines.

When Citrix bought XenSystems in 2008, it obtained the bare metal hypervisor, which runs directly on a host's hardware as opposed to running within a conventional operating system environment. Xen's code, which was created at the University of Cambridge a decade ago, has been licensed under the Gnu General Public License, version 2.

A Collaborative Project

Ian Pratt, chairman of xen.org, which has been the site for the Xen Project, told The Wall Street Journal that "the Xen hypervisor is the foundation of every successful public cloud Relevant Products/Services service today," and it also provides virtual infrastructure Relevant Products/Services for thousands of enterprise Relevant Products/Services private clouds, hosting servers and virtual desktops. He added that "it is important for such a strategic piece of software to be properly managed on behalf of the industry."

The Xen Project at the foundation is a Collaborative Project, which means it is an independently funded software project that utilizes collaborative development to spur innovation.

Last week, a group of companies -- including IBM, Cisco Relevant Products/Services Systems, Citrix, HP and Jupiter Systems -- announced they were launching the open-source OpenDaylight Project, which will be administered by the Linux Foundation. OpenDaylight is intended to result in a common development platform for software-defined networking, and the first products are expected to be released by third quarter.