XenServer 6 autostart VMs or vApps

By | January 30, 2012

In XenServer 5.6 there was the autostart feature on VMs. When the autostart checkbox on the VM was enabled, the VMs would start automatically after the XenServer host environment was powered up. In XenServer 6, this feature is removed from the XenCenter console. There are multiple blogposts that describe how to re-enable the autostart feature from the commandline. But that is not needed. You can use the new vApp feature. With vApps you can accomplish the same, but better. vApps is a logical grouping of multiple VMs. For example you can create a vApp “core infrastructure”, put your domaincontroller and licenseserver in it and some additional servers. In a vApp you can also define the order in which VMs are started and also a delay time between the startup sequence. So vApps is much more flexible than autostart. You can find vApp in XenCenter under Pool –> Manage vApps.

  • Create a new vApp
  • Assign VMs. A VM can be added to only one vApp at a time
  • Change VM startup sequence. Add delays between sequences.

That’s it. This is a Pool feature, but it will also work with just one stand-alone XenServer. The automatic starting of a vApp only works for a paid version of XenServer. Although the administrators guide mentions vApps in combination with HA (High Availability) or DR (Disaster Recovery), you don’t need the platinum edition for vApps. In fact, you don’t need HA. I have it running with the Advanced Edition without HA enabled. If you want automatic starting of a vApp with the free version of XenServer you have to use the following commands:

List the vApps: xe appliance-list

Start a vApp: xe appliance-start uuid=<appliance-uuid>

Add above command to /etc/rc.local

So forget the autostart feature, use vApps. Even with the free version of XenServer you can use it.