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Fedora 18

Virtualization Getting Started Guide

Virtualization Documentation

Edition 1.0

Fedora Documentation Project

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The Fedora Virtualization Getting Started Guide describes the basics of virtualization and the virtualization products and technologies that are available with Fedora.

1. Document Conventions
1.1. Typographic Conventions
1.2. Pull-quote Conventions
1.3. Notes and Warnings
2. We Need Feedback!
1. Introduction
1.1. Who should read this guide?
1.2. Virtualization resources
2. What is virtualization and migration?
2.1. What is virtualization?
2.2. Migration
2.2.1. Benefits of migrating virtual machines
3. Advantages and misconceptions of virtualization
3.1. Virtualization costs
3.2. Virtualization learning curve
3.3. Performance
3.4. Flexibility
3.5. Disaster recovery
3.6. Security
3.6.1. Virtualization security features
3.7. Virtualization for servers and individuals
4. Introduction to Fedora virtualization products
4.1. KVM and virtualization in Fedora
4.2. libvirt and libvirt tools
4.3. Virtualized hardware devices
4.3.1. Virtualized and emulated devices
4.3.2. Para-virtualized devices
4.3.3. Physical host devices
4.3.4. Guest CPU models
4.4. Storage
4.4.1. Storage pools
4.4.2. Storage Volumes
5. Virtualization Tools
5.1. virsh
5.2. virt-manager
5.3. virt-install
5.4. guestfish
5.5. Other useful tools
A. Revision History


1. Document Conventions

This manual uses several conventions to highlight certain words and phrases and draw attention to specific pieces of information.
In PDF and paper editions, this manual uses typefaces drawn from the Liberation Fonts set. The Liberation Fonts set is also used in HTML editions if the set is installed on your system. If not, alternative but equivalent typefaces are displayed. Note: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and later includes the Liberation Fonts set by default.

1.1. Typographic Conventions

Four typographic conventions are used to call attention to specific words and phrases. These conventions, and the circumstances they apply to, are as follows.
Mono-spaced Bold
Used to highlight system input, including shell commands, file names and paths. Also used to highlight keycaps and key combinations. For example:
To see the contents of the file my_next_bestselling_novel in your current working directory, enter the cat my_next_bestselling_novel command at the shell prompt and press Enter to execute the command.
The above includes a file name, a shell command and a keycap, all presented in mono-spaced bold and all distinguishable thanks to context.
Key combinations can be distinguished from keycaps by the hyphen connecting each part of a key combination. For example:
Press Enter to execute the command.
Press Ctrl+Alt+F2 to switch to the first virtual terminal. Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to return to your X-Windows session.
The first paragraph highlights the particular keycap to press. The second highlights two key combinations (each a set of three keycaps with each set pressed simultaneously).
If source code is discussed, class names, methods, functions, variable names and returned values mentioned within a paragraph will be presented as above, in mono-spaced bold. For example:
File-related classes include filesystem for file systems, file for files, and dir for directories. Each class has its own associated set of permissions.
Proportional Bold
This denotes words or phrases encountered on a system, including application names; dialog box text; labeled buttons; check-box and radio button labels; menu titles and sub-menu titles. For example:
Choose SystemPreferencesMouse from the main menu bar to launch Mouse Preferences. In the Buttons tab, click the Left-handed mouse check box and click Close to switch the primary mouse button from the left to the right (making the mouse suitable for use in the left hand).
To insert a special character into a gedit file, choose ApplicationsAccessoriesCharacter Map from the main menu bar. Next, choose SearchFind… from the Character Map menu bar, type the name of the character in the Search field and click Next. The character you sought will be highlighted in the Character Table. Double-click this highlighted character to place it in the Text to copy field and then click the Copy button. Now switch back to your document and choose EditPaste from the gedit menu bar.
The above text includes application names; system-wide menu names and items; application-specific menu names; and buttons and text found within a GUI interface, all presented in proportional bold and all distinguishable by context.
Mono-spaced Bold Italic or Proportional Bold Italic
Whether mono-spaced bold or proportional bold, the addition of italics indicates replaceable or variable text. Italics denotes text you do not input literally or displayed text that changes depending on circumstance. For example:
To connect to a remote machine using ssh, type ssh at a shell prompt. If the remote machine is and your username on that machine is john, type ssh
The mount -o remount file-system command remounts the named file system. For example, to remount the /home file system, the command is mount -o remount /home.
To see the version of a currently installed package, use the rpm -q package command. It will return a result as follows: package-version-release.
Note the words in bold italics above — username,, file-system, package, version and release. Each word is a placeholder, either for text you enter when issuing a command or for text displayed by the system.
Aside from standard usage for presenting the title of a work, italics denotes the first use of a new and important term. For example:
Publican is a DocBook publishing system.

1.2. Pull-quote Conventions

Terminal output and source code listings are set off visually from the surrounding text.
Output sent to a terminal is set in mono-spaced roman and presented thus:
books        Desktop   documentation  drafts  mss    photos   stuff  svn
books_tests  Desktop1  downloads      images  notes  scripts  svgs
Source-code listings are also set in mono-spaced roman but add syntax highlighting as follows:

import javax.naming.InitialContext;

public class ExClient
   public static void main(String args[]) 
       throws Exception
      InitialContext iniCtx = new InitialContext();
      Object         ref    = iniCtx.lookup("EchoBean");
      EchoHome       home   = (EchoHome) ref;
      Echo           echo   = home.create();

      System.out.println("Created Echo");

      System.out.println("Echo.echo('Hello') = " + echo.echo("Hello"));

1.3. Notes and Warnings

Finally, we use three visual styles to draw attention to information that might otherwise be overlooked.


Notes are tips, shortcuts or alternative approaches to the task at hand. Ignoring a note should have no negative consequences, but you might miss out on a trick that makes your life easier.


Important boxes detail things that are easily missed: configuration changes that only apply to the current session, or services that need restarting before an update will apply. Ignoring a box labeled 'Important' will not cause data loss but may cause irritation and frustration.


Warnings should not be ignored. Ignoring warnings will most likely cause data loss.

2. We Need Feedback!

If you find a typographical error in this manual, or if you have thought of a way to make this manual better, we would love to hear from you! Please submit a report in Bugzilla: against the product Fedora 18.
When submitting a bug report, be sure to mention the manual's identifier: virtualization-getting-started-guide
If you have a suggestion for improving the documentation, try to be as specific as possible when describing it. If you have found an error, please include the section number and some of the surrounding text so we can find it easily.

Chapter 1. Introduction

The Virtualization Getting Started Guide introduces the basics of virtualization and assists with the navigation of other virtualization documentation and products that Fedora provides.
This guide also explains the advantages of virtualization and dispels some common myths that exist regarding virtualization.

1.1. Who should read this guide?

This guide is designed for anyone wishing to understand the basics of virtualization, but may be of particular interest to:
  • Those who are new to virtualization and seeking knowledge about the benefits offered.
  • Those considering deployment of virtualized machines in their environment.
  • Those looking for an overview of the virtualization technologies that Fedora produces and supports.

1.2. Virtualization resources

Fedora contains packages and tools to support a variety of virtualized environments. Fedora virtualization provides the upstream development for virtualization in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Refer to Chapter 4, Introduction to Fedora virtualization products for more information about the virtualization products available in Fedora.
In addition to this guide, the following books cover virtualization with Fedora:
  • Virtualization Deployment Guide: This guide provides information on system requirements and restrictions, package details, host configuration and detailed instructions for installing different types of guests.
  • Virtualization Administration Guide: This guide provides information on servers, security, KVM, remote management of guests, KSM, administration tasks, storage, volumes, virt-manager, guest disk access with offline tools, virtual networking, and troubleshooting.
  • Virtualization Security Guide: This guide provides information on virtualization security technologies including sVirt, configuration and recommendations for host and guest security, and network security.
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) is another virtualization option for servers and desktops. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization provides an end-to-end datacenter virtualization solution developed from the upstream oVirt project. Visit for more information about oVirt.
Documentation for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and virtualization with Red Hat Enterprise Linux can be found at

Chapter 2. What is virtualization and migration?

This chapter discusses terms related to virtualization and migration.

2.1. What is virtualization?

Virtualization is a broad computing term used for running software, usually multiple operating systems, concurrently and in isolation from other programs on a single system. Most existing implementations of virtualization use a hypervisor, a software layer or subsystem that controls hardware and provides guest operating systems with access to underlying hardware. The hypervisor allows multiple operating systems, called guests, to run on the same physical system by offering virtualized hardware to the guest operating system. There are various methods for virtualizing operating systems:
Full virtualization
Full virtualization uses the hardware features of the processor to provide guests with total abstraction of the underlying physical system. This creates a new virtual system, called a virtual machine, that allows guest operating systems to run without modifications. The guest operating system and any applications on the guest are unaware of their virtualized environment and run normally. Hardware-assisted virtualization is the technique used for full virtualization with KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) in Fedora.
Para-virtualization employs a collection of software and data structures that are presented to the virtualized guest, requiring software modifications in the guest to use the para-virtualized environment. Para-virtualization can encompass the entire kernel, as is the case for Xen para-virtualized guests, or drivers that virtualize I/O devices.
Software virtualization (or emulation)
Software virtualization uses slower binary translation and other emulation techniques to run unmodified operating systems.


For more information and detailed instructions on guest installation, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Deployment Guide.

2.2. Migration

Migration describes the process of moving a virtual machine from one host to another. This is possible because guests are running in a virtualized environment instead of directly on the hardware. There are two ways to migrate a virtual machine: live and offline.
Migration Types
Offline migration
An offline migration suspends the guest, and then moves an image of the guest's memory to the destination host. The guest is then resumed on the destination host and the memory used by the guest on the source host is freed.
Live migration
Live migration is the process of migrating an active guest from one physical host to another.

2.2.1. Benefits of migrating virtual machines

Migration is useful for:
Load balancing
When a host machine is overloaded, one or many of its virtual machines could be migrated to other hosts.
Upgrading or making changes to the host
When the need arises to upgrade, add, or remove hardware devices on one host, virtual machines can be safely relocated to other hosts. This means that guests do not experience any downtime due to changes that are made to any of the hosts.
Energy saving
Virtual machines can be redistributed to other hosts and the unloaded host systems can be powered off to save energy and cut costs in low usage periods.
Geographic migration
Virtual machines can be moved to another physical location for lower latency or for other special circumstances.
It is important to understand that the migration process moves the virtual machine's memory. This process is done using live migration.
Shared, networked storage must be used for storing guest images to be migrated. Without shared storage, migration is not possible. It is recommended to use libvirt-managed storage pools for shared storage.


For more information on migration, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.

Chapter 3. Advantages and misconceptions of virtualization

There are many advantages to virtualization and perhaps an equal amount of misconceptions surrounding it. This chapter explores these points.

3.1. Virtualization costs

A common misconception is that virtualization is too expensive to justify the change. Virtualization can be expensive to introduce but often it saves money in the long term. It is important to perform a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis to determine the best use of virtualization in your environment. Consider the following benefits:
Less power
Using virtualization negates much of the need for multiple physical platforms. This equates to less power being drawn for machine operation and cooling, resulting in reduced energy costs. The initial cost of purchasing multiple physical platforms, combined with the machines' power consumption and required cooling, is drastically cut by using virtualization.
Less maintenance
Provided adequate planning is performed before migrating physical systems to virtualized ones, less time is spent maintaining them. This means less money being spent on parts and labor.
Extended life for installed software
Older versions of software may not run on newer, bare metal machines directly. However, by running the older software virtually on a larger, faster system, the life of the software may be extended while taking advantage of the performance from the newer system.
Smaller footprint
Consolidating servers onto fewer machines means less physical space is required. This means the space normally occupied by server hardware can be used for other purposes.

3.2. Virtualization learning curve

A misconception exists that virtualization is difficult to learn. In truth, virtualization is no more difficult or easy to learn than any new process. The skills required for managing and supporting a physical environment are easily transferable to a virtual one. Virtual environments function similarly to their physical counterparts, ensuring the learning curve remains a slight one.

3.3. Performance

On older virtualization versions that supported only a single CPU, virtual machines experienced noticeable performance limitations. This created a long-lasting misconception that virtualization solutions are slow. This is no longer the case; advances in technology allow virtual machines to run at much faster speeds than previously.

3.4. Flexibility

Virtualization provides greater flexibility for managing systems. Virtual machines can be copied or moved to test software updates and validate configuration changes, without impacting other systems. Because each of the virtualized systems are completely separate to each other, one system's downtime will not affect any others.

3.5. Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is quicker and easier when the systems are virtualized. On a physical system, if something serious goes wrong, a complete re-install of the operating system is usually required, resulting in hours of recovery time. However, if the systems are virtualized this is much faster due to migration ability. If the requirements for live migration are followed, virtual machines can be restarted on another host, and the longest possible delay would be in restoring guest data.

3.6. Security

A virtual machine uses SELinux and sVirt to improve security in virtualization. This section includes an overview of the security options available.

3.6.1. Virtualization security features

SELinux was developed by the US National Security Agency and others to provide Mandatory Access Control (MAC) for Linux. Under control of SELinux, all processes and files are given what is known as a type, and access is limited by fine-grained controls. SELinux limits the abilities of an attacker and works to prevent many common security exploits such as buffer overflow attacks and privilege escalation.
SELinux strengthens the security model of Fedora hosts and virtualized Fedora guests. SELinux is configured and tested to work, by default, with all virtualization tools shipped with Fedora.
sVirt is a technology included in Fedora that integrates SELinux and virtualization. It applies Mandatory Access Control (MAC) to improve security when using virtual machines, and improves security and hardens the system against bugs in the hypervisor that might be used as an attack vector for the host or to another virtual machine.


For more information on sVirt, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.

3.7. Virtualization for servers and individuals

Virtualization is not just for servers; it can be useful for individuals as well. Desktop virtualization offers centralized management, an improved desktop solution, and better disaster recovery. By using connection software, it is possible to connect to a desktop remotely.
For servers, virtualization is not only for larger networks, but for any situation with two or more servers. It provides live migration, high availability, fault tolerance, and streamlined backups.

Chapter 4. Introduction to Fedora virtualization products

This chapter introduces the various virtualization products available in Fedora.

4.1. KVM and virtualization in Fedora

What is KVM?
KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a full virtualization solution for Linux on AMD64 and Intel 64 hardware that is built into the standard Fedora kernel. It can run multiple, unmodified Windows and Linux guest operating systems. The KVM hypervisor in Fedora is managed with the libvirt API and tools built for libvirt (such as virt-manager and virsh). Virtual machines are executed and run as multi-threaded Linux processes controlled by these tools.
KVM hypervisor supports overcommitting of system resources. Overcommitting means allocating more virtualized CPUs or memory than the available resources on the system. Memory overcommitting allows hosts to utilize memory and virtual memory to increase guest densities.


Overcommitting involves possible risks to system stability. For more information on overcommitting with KVM, and the precautions that should be taken, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.
Thin provisioning
Thin provisioning allows the allocation of flexible storage and optimizes the available space for every guest. It gives the appearance that there is more physical storage on the guest than is actually available. This is not the same as overcommitting as this only pertains to storage and not CPUs or memory allocations. However, like overcommitting, the same warning applies.


Thin provisioning involves possible risks to system stability. For more information on thin provisioning with KVM, and the precautions that should be taken, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.
Kernel SamePage Merging (KSM), used by the KVM hypervisor, allows KVM guests to share identical memory pages. These shared pages are usually common libraries or other identical, high-use data. KSM allows for greater guest density of identical or similar guest operating systems by avoiding memory duplication.


For more information on KSM, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.
KVM Guest VM Compatibility
To verify whether your processor supports the virtualization extensions and for information on enabling the virtualization extensions if they are disabled, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.

4.2. libvirt and libvirt tools

The libvirt package is a hypervisor-independent virtualization API that is able to interact with the virtualization capabilities of a range of operating systems.
The libvirt package provides:
  • A common, generic, and stable layer to securely manage virtual machines on a host.
  • A common interface for managing local systems and networked hosts.
  • All of the APIs required to provision, create, modify, monitor, control, migrate, and stop virtual machines, but only if the hypervisor supports these operations. Although multiple hosts may be accessed with libvirt simultaneously, the APIs are limited to single node operations.
The libvirt package is designed as a building block for higher level management tools and applications, for example, virt-manager and the virsh command-line management tools. With the exception of migration capabilities, libvirt focuses on managing single hosts and provides APIs to enumerate, monitor and use the resources available on the managed node, including CPUs, memory, storage, networking and Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) partitions. The management tools can be located on separate physical machines from the host using secure protocols.
Fedora supports libvirt and included libvirt-based tools as its default method for virtualization management.
The libvirt package is available as free software under the GNU Lesser General Public License. The libvirt project aims to provide a long term stable C API to virtualization management tools, running on top of varying hypervisor technologies.
The virsh command-line tool is built on the libvirt management API and operates as an alternative to the graphical virt-manager application. The virsh command can be used in read-only mode by unprivileged users or, with root access, full administration functionality. The virsh command is ideal for scripting virtualization administration.
virt-manager is a graphical desktop tool for managing virtual machines. It allows access to graphical guest consoles and can be used to perform virtualization administration, virtual machine creation, migration, and configuration tasks. The ability to view virtual machines, host statistics, device information and performance graphs is also provided. The local hypervisor and remote hypervisors can be managed through a single interface.


For more information on virsh and virt-manager, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.

4.3. Virtualized hardware devices

Virtualization on Fedora presents three distinct types of system devices to virtual machines. The three types include:
  • Virtualized and emulated devices
  • Para-virtualized devices
  • Physically shared devices
These hardware devices all appear as being physically attached to the virtual machine but the device drivers work in different ways.

4.3.1. Virtualized and emulated devices

KVM implements many core devices for virtual machines in software. These emulated hardware devices are crucial for virtualizing operating systems.
Emulated devices are virtual devices which exist entirely in software.
Emulated drivers may use either a physical device or a virtual software device. Emulated drivers are a translation layer between the virtual machine and the Linux kernel (which manages the source device). The device level instructions are completely translated by the KVM hypervisor. Any device, of the same type (storage, network, keyboard, and mouse) and recognized by the Linux kernel, may be used as the backing source device for the emulated drivers.
Virtual CPUs (vCPUs)
A host system can have up to 160 virtual CPUs (vCPUs) that can be presented to guests for their use, regardless of the number of host CPUs.
Emulated graphics devices
Two emulated graphics devices are provided. These devices can be connected to with the SPICE (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) protocol or with VNC:
  • A Cirrus CLGD 5446 PCI VGA card (using the cirrus device)
  • A standard VGA graphics card with Bochs VESA extensions (hardware level, including all non-standard modes)
Emulated system components
The following core system components are emulated to provide basic system functions:
  • Intel i440FX host PCI bridge
  • PIIX3 PCI to ISA bridge
  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • EvTouch USB Graphics Tablet
  • PCI UHCI USB controller and a virtualized USB hub
  • Emulated serial ports
  • EHCI controller, virtualized USB storage and a USB mouse
Emulated sound devices
Fedora 18 provides an emulated (Intel) HDA sound device, intel-hda.
The following two emulated sound devices are also available, but are not recommended due to compatibility issues with certain guest operating systems:
  • ac97, an emulated Intel 82801AA AC97 Audio compatible sound card
  • es1370, an emulated ENSONIQ AudioPCI ES1370 sound card
Emulated watchdog devices
Fedora 18 provides two emulated watchdog devices. A watchdog can be used to automatically reboot a virtual machine when it becomes overloaded or unresponsive.
The watchdog package must be installed on the guest.
The two devices available are:
  • i6300esb, an emulated Intel 6300 ESB PCI watchdog device.
  • ib700, an emulated iBase 700 ISA watchdog device.
Emulated network devices
There are two emulated network devices available:
  • The e1000 device emulates an Intel E1000 network adapter (Intel 82540EM, 82573L, 82544GC).
  • The rtl8139 device emulates a Realtek 8139 network adapter.
Emulated storage drivers
Storage devices and storage pools can use these emulated devices to attach storage devices to virtual machines. The guest uses an emulated storage driver to access the storage pool.
Note that like all virtual devices, the storage drivers are not storage devices. The drivers are used to attach a backing storage device, file or storage pool volume to a virtual machine. The backing storage device can be any supported type of storage device, file, or storage pool volume.
The emulated IDE driver
KVM provides two emulated PCI IDE interfaces. An emulated IDE driver can be used to attach any combination of up to four virtualized IDE hard disks or virtualized IDE CD-ROM drives to each virtual machine. The emulated IDE driver is also used for virtualized CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives.
The emulated floppy disk drive driver
The emulated floppy disk drive driver is used for creating virtualized floppy drives.

4.3.2. Para-virtualized devices

Para-virtualized devices are drivers for virtual devices that increase the I/O performance of virtual machines.
Para-virtualized devices decrease I/O latency and increase I/O throughput to near bare-metal levels. It is recommended to use the para-virtualized drivers for virtual machines running I/O intensive applications.
The para-virtualized devices must be installed on the guest operating system. The para-virtualized drivers must be manually installed on Windows guests.


For more information on using the para-virtualized drivers, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Deployment Guide.
The para-virtualized network driver (virtio-net)
The para-virtualized network driver can be used as the driver for existing network devices or new network devices for virtual machines.
The para-virtualized block driver (virtio-blk)
The para-virtualized block driver is a driver for all storage devices, is supported by the hypervisor, and is attached to the virtual machine (except for floppy disk drives, which must be emulated).
The para-virtualized controller device (virtio-scsi)
The para-virtualized SCSI controller device provides a more flexible and scalable alternative to virtio-blk. A virtio-scsi guest is capable of inheriting the feature set of the target device, and can handle hundreds of devices compared to virtio-blk, which can only handle 28 devices.
The para-virtualized clock
Guests using the Time Stamp Counter (TSC) as a clock source may suffer timing issues. KVM works around hosts that do not have a constant Time Stamp Counter by providing guests with a para-virtualized clock.
The para-virtualized serial driver (virtio-serial)
The para-virtualized serial driver is a bytestream-oriented, character stream driver, and provides a simple communication interface between the host's user space and the guest's user space.
The balloon driver (virtio-balloon)
The balloon driver can designate part of a virtual machine's RAM as not being used (a process known as balloon inflation), so that the memory can be freed for the host (or for other virtual machines on that host) to use. When the virtual machine needs the memory again, the balloon can be deflated and the host can distribute the RAM back to the virtual machine.

4.3.3. Physical host devices

Certain hardware platforms allow virtual machines to directly access various hardware devices and components. This process in virtualization is known as device assignment. Device assignment is also known as passthrough.
PCI device assignment
The KVM hypervisor supports attaching PCI devices on the host system to virtual machines. PCI device assignment allows guests to have exclusive access to PCI devices for a range of tasks. It allows PCI devices to appear and behave as if they were physically attached to the guest virtual machine.
Device assignment is supported on PCI Express devices, with the exception of graphics cards. Parallel PCI devices may be supported as assigned devices, but they have severe limitations due to security and system configuration conflicts.


For more information on device assignment, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Deployment Guide.
USB passthrough
The KVM hypervisor supports attaching USB devices on the host system to virtual machines. USB device assignment allows guests to have exclusive access to USB devices for a range of tasks. It allows USB devices to appear and behave as if they were physically attached to the virtual machine.


For more information on USB passthrough, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.
SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization) is a PCI Express standard that extends a single physical PCI function to share its PCI resources as separate, virtual functions (VFs). Each function is capable of being used by a different virtual machine via PCI device assignment.
An SR-IOV capable PCI-e device, provides a Single Root Function (for example, a single Ethernet port) and presents multiple, separate virtual devices as unique PCI device functions. Each virtual device may have its own unique PCI configuration space, memory-mapped registers, and individual MSI-based interrupts.


For more information on SR-IOV, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Deployment Guide.
N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is a functionality available with some Fibre Channel devices. NPIV shares a single physical N_Port as multiple N_Port IDs. NPIV provides similar functionality for Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) that SR-IOV provides for PCIe interfaces. With NPIV, virtual machines can be provided with a virtual Fibre Channel initiator to Storage Area Networks (SANs).
NPIV can provide high density virtualized environments with enterprise-level storage solutions.


For more information on NPIV, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.

4.3.4. Guest CPU models

Historically, CPU model definitions were hard-coded in qemu. This method of defining CPU models was inflexible, and made it difficult to create virtual CPUs with feature sets that matched existing physical CPUs. Typically, users modified a basic CPU model definition with feature flags in order to provide the CPU characteristics required by a virtual machine. Unless these feature sets were carefully controlled, safe migration — which requires feature sets between current and prospective hosts to match — was difficult to support.
qemu-kvm has now replaced most hard-wired definitions with configuration file based CPU model definitions. Definitions for a number of current processor models are now included by default, allowing users to specify features more accurately and migrate more safely.


For more information on guest CPU models, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Deployment Guide.

4.4. Storage

Storage for virtual machines is abstracted from the physical storage used by the virtual machine. It is attached to the virtual machine using the para-virtualized or emulated block device drivers.

4.4.1. Storage pools

A storage pool is a file, directory, or storage device managed by libvirt for the purpose of providing storage to virtual machines. Storage pools are divided into storage volumes that store virtual machine images or are attached to virtual machines as additional storage. Multiple guests can share the same storage pool, allowing for better allocation of storage resources.
Local storage pools
Local storage pools are directly attached to the host server. They include local directories, directly attached disks, physical partitions, and LVM volume groups on local devices. Local storage pools are useful for development, testing and small deployments that do not require migration or large numbers of virtual machines. Local storage pools may not be suitable for many production environments as they do not support live migration.
Networked (shared) storage pools
Networked storage pools include storage devices shared over a network using standard protocols. Networked storage is required for migrating virtual machines between hosts. Networked storage pools are managed by libvirt.

4.4.2. Storage Volumes

Storage pools are further divided into storage volumes. Storage volumes are an abstraction of physical partitions, LVM logical volumes, file-based disk images and other storage types handled by libvirt. Storage volumes are presented to virtual machines as local storage devices regardless of the underlying hardware.


For more information on storage and virtualization, refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide.

Chapter 5. Virtualization Tools

This chapter provides an introduction to the many tools available to assist with virtualization.

5.1. virsh

virsh is a command line interface (CLI) tool for managing guests and the hypervisor. The virsh command line tool is built on the libvirt management API and operates as an alternative to the qemu-kvm command and the graphical virt-manager application. The virsh command can be used in read-only mode by unprivileged users or, with root access, full administration functionality. The virsh command is ideal for scripting virtualization administration. In addition the virsh tool is a main management interface for virsh guest domains and can be used to create, pause, and shut down domains, as well as list current domains. This tool is installed as part of the libvirt-client package.


Refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide for more information about managing virtual machines with virsh.

5.2. virt-manager

virt-manager is a lightweight graphical tool for managing virtual machines. It provides the ability to control the life cycle of existing machines, provision new machines, manage virtual networks, access the graphical console of virtual machines, and view performance statistics. This tool ships in its own package called virt-manager.


Refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide for more information about managing virtual machines with virt-manager.

5.3. virt-install

virt-install is a command line tool to provision new virtual machines. It supports both text-based and graphical installations, using serial console, SDL, SPICE, or VNC client/server pair graphics. Installation media can be local, or exist remotely on an NFS, HTTP, or FTP server. The tool can also be configured to run unattended and kickstart the guest when installation is complete, allowing for easy automation of installation. This tool is installed as part of the python-virtinst package.


Refer to the Fedora Virtualization Deployment Guide for more information about virt-install.

5.4. guestfish

guestfish is a command line tool for examining and modifying the file systems of the host. This tool uses libguestfs and exposes all functionality provided by the guestfs API. This tool ships in its own package entitled guestfish.


Refer to the Fedora Virtualization Administration Guide for more information about guestfish.


Using guestfish on running virtual machines can cause disk-image corruption. Use the guestfish command with the --ro (read-only) option if the disk image is being used by a running virtual machine.

5.5. Other useful tools

The following tools are used to access a virtual machine's disk via the host. The guest's disk is usually accessed directly via the disk-image file located on the host. However it is sometimes possible to gain access via the libvirt domain. The commands that follow are part of the libvirt domain and are used to gain access to the guest's disk image.
A command line tool used to mount virtual machine file systems and disk images on the host machine. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-mount package.


Using guestmount in --r/w (read/write) mode to access a disk that is currently being used by a guest can cause the disk to become corrupted. Do not use guestmount in --r/w (read/write) mode on live virtual machines. Use the guestmount command with the --ro (read-only) option if the disk image is being used.
A command line tool that can be used to quickly view the contents of one or more files in a specified virtual machine's disk or disk image. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.
A command line tool used to show the actual physical disk usage of virtual machines. Similar to the command line tool df. Note that this tool does not work across remote connections. It is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.
A command line tool used to edit files that exist on a specified virtual machine. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.


Using virt-edit on live virtual machines can cause disk corruption in the virtual machine. Although the virt-edit command will try to prevent users from editing files on live virtual machines, it is not guaranteed to catch all instances. Do not use virt-edit on a live virtual machine.
A command line tool used to discover file systems, partitions, logical volumes and their sizes in a disk image or virtual machine. One common use is in shell scripts, to iterate over all file systems in a disk image. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.
This tool replaces virt-list-filesystems and virt-list-partitions.
A command line tool that can examine a virtual machine or disk image to determine the version of its operating system and other information. It can also produce XML output, which can be piped into other programs. Note that virt-inspector can only inspect one domain at a time. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.
A command line tool that lists files and directories inside a virtual machine. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.
A command line tool for creating a file system based on a tar archive or files in a directory. It is similar to tools like mkisofs and mksquashfs, but it can create common file system types such as ext2, ext3 and NTFS, and the size of the file system created can be equal to or greater than the size of the files it is based on. This tool is provided as part of the libguestfs-tools package.
A command line tool that provides a rescue shell and some simple recovery tools for unbootable virtual machines and disk images. It can be run on any virtual machine known to libvirt, or directly on disk images. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.


Using virt-rescue on running virtual machines can cause disk corruption in the virtual machine. virt-rescue attempts to prevent its own use on running virtual machines, but cannot catch all cases.
Using the command with the --ro (read-only) option will not cause disk corruption, but may give strange or inconsistent results. It is better to avoid using virt-rescue on a running virtual machine.
A command line tool to resize virtual machine disks, and resize or delete any partitions on a virtual machine disk. It works by copying the guest image and leaving the original disk image untouched. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.


Using virt-resize on running virtual machines can give inconsistent results. It is best to shut down virtual machines before attempting to resize them.
A command line utility similar to top, which shows stats related to virtualized domains. This tool ships in its own package: virt-top.
A graphical tool to convert virtual machines from Xen and VMware hypervisors to run on KVM. This tool ships in its own package: virt-v2v.
A minimal tool for displaying the graphical console of a virtual machine via the VNC and SPICE protocols. This tool ships in its own package: virt-viewer.
A shell script that detects whether a program is running in a virtual machine. This tool ships in its own package: virt-what.
The virt-who package is a Fedora host agent that queries libvirt for guest UUIDs. It then passes that data to the local entitlement server for the purposes of issuing certificates. This tool ships in its own package: virt-who.
A command line tool to export and merge Windows Registry entries from a Windows guest, and perform simple Registry operations. This tool is installed as part of the libguestfs-tools package.


Using virt-win-reg on running virtual machines will cause irreversible disk corruption in the virtual machine. virt-win-reg attempts to prevent its own use on running virtual machines, but cannot catch all cases.


Modifying the Windows Registry is an inherently risky operation, as the format is deliberately obscure and undocumented. Changes to the registry can leave the system unbootable, so ensure you have a reliable backup before you use the --merge option.
A command line tool to validate libvirt XML files for compliance with the published schema. This tool is installed as part of the libvirt-client package.

Revision History

Revision History
Revision 1.0-05Monday October 22, 2012Dayle Parker
Branch for Fedora 18 Beta.
Revision 1.0-04Monday October 22, 2012Dayle Parker
Added virtio-scsi feature description to 4.3.2. Para-virtualized devices.
Revision 1.0-03Thursday September 6, 2012Dayle Parker
In Chapter 3: Advantages, added Flexibility point for (BZ#853826).
Revision 1.0-02Thursday August 23 2012Dayle Parker
In Tools: deleted virt-inspector2, virt-cat warning, clarified --r/w warning as per feedback.
Revision 1.0-01Tuesday August 14 2012Dayle Parker
Initial creation of book for Fedora.