I want to setup a server on my home network running both Windows and Linux simultaneously (no dual boot). I plan to use the Linux instance as a File Server, and the Windows installation will mainly be so I can play games once in awhile when the traffic on the file server is slow.

One option of course is to use software virtualization (VMware or VirtualBox), using Windows as the host operating system and Linux as the guest, so that Windows/DirectX has hardware access to my nVidia card and other gaming hardware.

But I'm wondering if it's possible, using hardware virtualization, for Windows to still access my graphics hardware and utilize the driver-level DirectX support offered my video card, even though its running under Xen?

I admit I don't yet know very much about Xen or hardware virtualization, but I'm anxious to learn.


Xen has the ability to do this, but the functionality hasn't been written in yet. VirtualBox supports basic Direct3D support. It's probably somewhat limited though at this time.

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    This sounds like an informed answer, so I selected it as the "Best" answer; but I'm interested to know what you mean when you say "Xen has the ability to do this, but the functionality hasn't been written in yet." On the surface, these two statements appear mutually exclusive.. – Brian Lacy Jan 26 '11 at 22:57

I recently went through the same process of finding a way to access graphic card from within a Windows virtual machine and the answer is YES.

Based on Ubuntu and Xen forums and Teo En Ming's work as mentioned by Boris, I've been able to reproduce the VGA passthrough giving full access to the graphic card to a Windows virtual machine.

I even pushed it further by passing two graphic cards to two different virtual machines. The following video shows the results: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gtmwnx-k2qg

Note, however, that the procedure is not straight-forward and that the documentation is quite sparse.

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  • Hmmmm, I'm interested in doing something similar, but I only have a single graphics card. Is there a way to switch a card between domains without rebooting? Or even share them at the same time? – wvdschel Mar 5 '12 at 10:14

Take a look at Teo En Ming's videos. This guy has been collaborating with xen.org project, in the area of VGA drivers.

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