Xen on Raspberry Pi 4 adventures

Written by Stefano Stabellini and Roman Shaposhnik.

Raspberry Pi RPi has been a key enabling device for the Arm community for years given the low price and widespread adoption. According to the RPi Foundation over 35 million have been sold with 44 of these sold into industry. We have always been eager to get the Xen hypervisor running on it but technical differences between RPi and other Arm platforms made it impractical for the longest time. Specifically a non-standard interrupt controller without virtualization support.

Then the Raspberry Pi 4 came along together with a regular GIC-400 interrupt controller that Xen supports out of the box. Finally we could run Xen on an RPi device. Soon Roman Shaposhnik of Project EVE and a few other community members started asking about it on the xen-devel mailing list. It should be easy we answered. It might even work out of the box we wrote in our reply. We were utterly oblivious that we were about to embark on an adventure deep in the belly of the Xen memory allocator and Linux address translation layers.

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