Global Navigation

Top Navigation

Left Navigation


xen-shell commands

The xen shell has built in help and TAB completion so it should be fairly simple to use.

Some commands have synonyms and in that case both are listed here even though the functionality doesn't change when the name changes.

The currently available commands are:


This allows you to boot your Xen guest if it is currently shutdown.


This allows you to see the bandwidth a guest has used in a given period of time.

console / serial

These, identical, commands allow you to access your Xen guest's console, allowing you to login if your networking is broken, or if you've chosen to disable the OpenSSH server.

control [instance-name]

Since the v0.8 release of the xen-shell it is possible for an administrator to delegate control of multiple Xen guest systems to a single user. (Prior to this release a user could only control a single system.)

Each of the shell commands operate upon the currently selected Xen guest - and the control command allows you to specify which instance that is.

If the user only has a single instance under their control then this command is disabled; and all operations are implicitly conducted upon their sole Xen guest. Otherwise the list command will display guests the user may control.

exit / quit

These commands both exit the shell, saving any commands you might have entered into the ~/.xen-shell history file.


This command will list all the available Xen instances you're allowed to control - for the case when there is more than one Xen guest available to you.

If you only have one instance available this command will be disabled.

help [command1 command2]

When invoked with no arguments the help command will show a list of available commands and a one-line description of them all.

If you wish help on a specific command you can use "help command" to see more details.


If the client is connecting to the host system via OpenSSH using a plain text password then this command will allow them to change that password.

The command is disabled/removed if the users home directory contains the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys - it is assumed this means key-based authentication is in use.

rdns [ip hostname]

The rdns command allows you to either view your current reverse DNS settings, or update them. Run rdns with no arguments to view your current setup, or run "rdns" to set the reverse DNS for the IP

Note: you can only set the reverse DNS for IPs which you control, which you'll find listed in the output of rdns.

See the installation page for what is required to implement this fully.


This allows you to reboot your running Xen guest.


After prompting for confirmation, and counting down for ten seconds this command will wipe your Xen guest, and perform a fresh installation via the use of xen-tools.

See the installation page for what is required to implement this fully.

shutdown [force]

This command will shutdown your currently running Xen guest. It will remain shutdown until you issue a boot command.


This command shows you the current status of your Xen guest, which will either be "running/booted", or "shutdown".

For information purposes it will also show you the uptime of the host system.


This command allows you to send a "sysreq" command to a running Xen guest.


This command invokes the "top" display provided by the Xen monitor, allowing all guests to see their CPU/Memory/Network usage.


This command is similar to the status command and will show you the uptime of your Xen guest along with the uptime of the host system.


This shows you the version of the Xen shell which is comprised of the release number and the CVS revision identifier of the xen-shell.