virt-install - Man Page

provision new virtual machines

Examples (TL;DR)


virt-install [OPTION]...


virt-install is a command line tool for creating new KVM, Xen, or Linux container guests using the libvirt hypervisor management library. See the Examples section at the end of this document to quickly get started.

virt-install tool supports graphical installations using (for example) VNC or SPICE, as well as text mode installs over serial console. The guest can be configured to use one or more virtual disks, network interfaces, audio devices, physical USB or PCI devices, among others.

The installation media can be local ISO or CDROM media, or a distro install tree hosted remotely over HTTP, FTP, or in a local directory. In the install tree case virt-install will fetch the minimal files necessary to kick off the installation process, allowing the guest to fetch the rest of the OS distribution as needed. PXE booting, and importing an existing disk image (thus skipping the install phase) are also supported.

Given suitable command line arguments, virt-install is capable of running completely unattended, with the guest 'kickstarting' itself too. This allows for easy automation of guest installs. This can be done manually, or more simply with the --unattended option.

Many arguments have sub options, specified like opt1=foo,opt2=bar, etc. Try --option=? to see a complete list of sub options associated with that argument, example: virt-install --disk=?

Most options are not required. If a suitable --os-variant value is specified or detected, all defaults will be filled in and reported in the terminal output. If an --os-variant is not specified. minimum required options, --memory, guest storage (--disk or --filesystem), and an install method choice.

Connecting to Libvirt


Syntax: --connect URI

Connect to a non-default hypervisor. If this isn't specified, libvirt will try and choose the most suitable default.

Some valid options here are:


For creating KVM and QEMU guests to be run by the system libvirtd instance. This is the default mode that virt-manager uses, and what most KVM users want.


For creating KVM and QEMU guests for libvirtd running as the regular user.


For connecting to Xen.


For creating linux containers

General Options

General configuration parameters that apply to all types of guest installs.

-n, --name

Syntax: -n, --name NAME

Name of the new guest virtual machine instance. This must be unique amongst all guests known to the hypervisor on the connection, including those not currently active. To re-define an existing guest, use the virsh(1) tool to shut it down ('virsh shutdown') & delete ('virsh undefine') it prior to running virt-install.


Syntax: --memory OPTIONS

Memory to allocate for the guest, in MiB. This deprecates the -r/--ram option. Sub options are available, like 'memory', 'currentMemory', 'maxMemory' and 'maxMemory.slots', which all map to the identically named XML values.

Back compat values 'memory' maps to the <currentMemory> element, and maxmemory maps to the <memory> element.

To configure memory modules which can be hotunplugged see --memdev description.

Use --memory=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --memorybacking OPTIONS

This option will influence how virtual memory pages are backed by host pages.

Use --memorybacking=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --arch ARCH

Request a non-native CPU architecture for the guest virtual machine. If omitted, the host CPU architecture will be used in the guest.


Syntax: --machine MACHINE

The machine type to emulate. This will typically not need to be specified for Xen or KVM, but is useful for choosing machine types of more exotic architectures.


Syntax: --metadata OPT=VAL,[...]

Specify metadata values for the guest. Possible options include name, uuid, title, and description. This option deprecates -u/--uuid and --description.

Use --metadata=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --events OPT=VAL,[...]

Specify events values for the guest. Possible options include on_poweroff, on_reboot, and on_crash.

Use --events=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --resource OPT=VAL,[...]

Specify resource partitioning for the guest.

Use --resource=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --sysinfo OPT=VAL,[...]

Configure sysinfo/SMBIOS values exposed to the VM OS. Examples:

--sysinfo host

Special type that exposes the host's SMBIOS info into the VM.

--sysinfo emulate

Special type where hypervisor will generate SMBIOS info into the VM.

--sysinfo bios.vendor=custom or --sysinfo smbios,bios.vendor=custom

The default type is smbios and allows users to specify SMBIOS info manually.

Use --sysinfo=? to see a list of all available sub options.

Complete details at and for smbios XML element.


Syntax: --xml ARGS

Make direct edits to the generated XML using XPath syntax. Take an example like

virt-install --xml ./@foo=bar --xml ./newelement/subelement=1

This will alter the generated XML to contain:

<domain foo='bar' ...>

The --xml option has 4 sub options:

--xml xpath.set=XPATH[=VALUE]

The default behavior if no explicit suboption is set. Takes the form XPATH=VALUE unless paired with xpath.value . See below for how value is interpreted.

--xml xpath.value=VALUE

xpath.set will be interpreted only as the XPath string, and xpath.value will be used as the value to set. May help sidestep problems if the string you need to set contains a '=' equals sign.

If value is empty, it's treated as unsetting that particular node.

--xml xpath.create=XPATH

Create the node as an empty element. Needed for boolean elements like <readonly/>

--xml xpath.delete=XPATH

Delete the entire node specified by the xpath, and all its children


Syntax: --qemu-commandline ARGS

Pass options directly to the qemu emulator. Only works for the libvirt qemu driver. The option can take a string of arguments, for example:

--qemu-commandline="-display gtk,gl=on"

Environment variables are specified with 'env', for example:


Complete details about the libvirt feature:


Syntax: --vcpus OPTIONS

Number of virtual cpus to configure for the guest. If 'maxvcpus' is specified, the guest will be able to hotplug up to MAX vcpus while the guest is running, but will startup with VCPUS.

CPU topology can additionally be specified with sockets, cores, and threads. If values are omitted, the rest will be autofilled preferring sockets over cores over threads.

'cpuset' sets which physical cpus the guest can use. CPUSET is a comma separated list of numbers, which can also be specified in ranges or cpus to exclude. Example:

0,2,3,5     : Use processors 0,2,3 and 5
1-5,^3,8    : Use processors 1,2,4,5 and 8

If the value 'auto' is passed, virt-install attempts to automatically determine an optimal cpu pinning using NUMA data, if available.

Use --vcpus=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --numatune OPTIONS

Tune NUMA policy for the domain process. Example invocations

--numatune 1,2,3,4-7
--numatune 1-3,5,memory.mode=preferred

Specifies the numa nodes to allocate memory from. This has the same syntax as --vcpus cpuset= option. mode can be one of 'interleave', 'preferred', or 'strict' (the default). See 'man 8 numactl' for information about each mode.

Use --numatune=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --memtune OPTIONS

Tune memory policy for the domain process. Example invocations

--memtune 1000
--memtune hard_limit=100,soft_limit=60,swap_hard_limit=150,min_guarantee=80

Use --memtune=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --blkiotune OPTIONS

Tune blkio policy for the domain process. Example invocations

--blkiotune 100
--blkiotune weight=100,device.path=/dev/sdc,device.weight=200

Use --blkiotune=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --cpu MODEL[,+feature][,-feature][,match=MATCH][,vendor=VENDOR],...

Configure the CPU model and CPU features exposed to the guest. The only required value is MODEL, which is a valid CPU model as known to libvirt.

Libvirt's feature policy values force, require, optional, disable, or forbid, or with the shorthand '+feature' and '-feature', which equal 'force=feature' and 'disable=feature' respectively.

If exact CPU model is specified virt-install will automatically copy CPU features available on the host to mitigate recent CPU speculative execution side channel and Microarchitectural Store Buffer Data security vulnerabilities. This however will have some impact on performance and will break migration to hosts without security patches. In order to control this behavior there is a secure parameter. Possible values are on and off, with on as the default. It is highly recommended to leave this enabled and ensure all virtualization hosts have fully up to date microcode, kernel & virtualization software installed.

Some examples:

--cpu core2duo,+x2apic,disable=vmx

Expose the core2duo CPU model, force enable x2apic, but do not expose vmx

--cpu host

Expose the host CPUs configuration to the guest. This enables the guest to take advantage of many of the host CPUs features (better performance), but may cause issues if migrating the guest to a host without an identical CPU.

--cpu numa.cell0.memory=1234,numa.cell0.cpus=0-3,numa.cell1.memory=5678,numa.cell1.cpus=4-7

Example of specifying two NUMA cells. This will generate XML like:

    <cell cpus="0-3" memory="1234"/>
    <cell cpus="4-7" memory="5678"/>
--cpu host-passthrough,cache.mode=passthrough

Example of passing through the host cpu's cache information.

Use --cpu=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --cputune OPTIONS

Tune CPU parameters for the guest.

Configure which of the host's physical CPUs the domain VCPU will be pinned to. Example invocation

--cputune vcpupin0.vcpu=0,vcpupin0.cpuset=0-3,vcpupin1.vcpu=1,vcpupin1.cpuset=4-7

Use --cputune=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

--security, --seclabel

Syntax: --security, --seclabel type=TYPE[,label=LABEL][,relabel=yes|no],...

Configure domain seclabel domain settings. Type can be either 'static' or 'dynamic'. 'static' configuration requires a security LABEL. Specifying LABEL without TYPE implies static configuration.

Use --security=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --keywrap OPTIONS

Specify domain <keywrap> XML, used for S390 cryptographic key management operations.

Use --keywrap=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --iothreads OPTIONS

Specify domain <iothreads> and/or <iothreadids> XML. For example, to configure <iothreads>4</iothreads>, use --iothreads 4

Use --iothreads=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --features FEAT=on|off,...

Set elements in the guests <features> XML on or off. Examples include acpi, apic, eoi, privnet, and hyperv features. Some examples:

--features apic.eoi=on


--features hyperv.vapic.state=on,hyperv.spinlocks.state=off

Enable hypver VAPIC, but disable spinlocks

--features kvm.hidden.state=on

Allow the KVM hypervisor signature to be hidden from the guest

--features pvspinlock=on

Notify the guest that the host supports paravirtual spinlocks for example by exposing the pvticketlocks mechanism.

--features gic.version=2

This is relevant only for ARM architectures. Possible values are "host" or version number.

--features smm.state=on

This enables System Management Mode of hypervisor. Some UEFI firmwares may require this feature to be present. (QEMU supports SMM only with q35 machine type.)

Use --features=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --clock offset=OFFSET,TIMER_OPT=VAL,...

Configure the guest's <clock> XML. Some supported options:

--clock offset=OFFSET

Set the clock offset, ex. 'utc' or 'localtime'

--clock TIMER_present=no

Disable a boolean timer. TIMER here might be hpet, kvmclock, etc.

--clock TIMER_tickpolicy=VAL

Set a timer's tickpolicy value. TIMER here might be rtc, pit, etc. VAL might be catchup, delay, etc. Refer to the libvirt docs for all values.

Use --clock=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --pm OPTIONS

Configure guest power management features. Example:

--pm suspend_to_memi.enabled=on,suspend_to_disk.enabled=off

Use --pm=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --launchSecurity TYPE[,OPTS]

Enable launch security for the guest, e.g. AMD SEV. Example invocations:

# This will use a default policy 0x03
# No dhCert provided, so no data can be exchanged with the SEV firmware
--launchSecurity sev

# Explicit policy 0x01 - disables debugging, allows guest key sharing
--launchSecurity sev,policy=0x01

# Provide the session blob obtained from the SEV firmware
# Provide dhCert to open a secure communication channel with SEV firmware
--launchSecurity sev,session=BASE64SESSIONSTRING,dhCert=BASE64DHCERTSTRING

SEV has further implications on usage of virtio devices, so refer to Examples section to see a full invocation of virt-install with --launchSecurity.

Use --launchSecurity=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

Installation Options

-c, --cdrom

Syntax: --cdrom PATH

ISO file or CDROM device to use for VM install media. After install, the the virtual CDROM device will remain attached to the VM, but with the ISO or host path media ejected.

-l, --location

Syntax: -l, --location OPTIONS

Distribution tree installation source. virt-install can recognize certain distribution trees and fetches a bootable kernel/initrd pair to launch the install.

--location allows things like --extra-args for kernel arguments, and using --initrd-inject. If you want to use those options with CDROM media, you can pass the ISO to --location as well which works for some, but not all, CDROM media.

The LOCATION can take one of the following forms:


An HTTP server location containing an installable distribution image.


An FTP server location containing an installable distribution image.


Probe the ISO and extract files using 'isoinfo'


Path to a local directory containing an installable distribution image. Note that the directory will not be accessible by the guest after initial boot, so the OS installer will need another way to access the rest of the install media.

Some distro specific url samples:

Fedora/Red Hat Based




Additionally, --location can take 'kernel' and 'initrd' sub options. These paths relative to the specified location URL/ISO that allow selecting specific files for kernel/initrd within the install tree. This can be useful if virt-install/ libosinfo doesn't know where to find the kernel in the specified --location.

For example, if you have an ISO that libosinfo doesn't know about called my-unknown.iso, with a kernel at 'kernel/fookernel' and initrd at 'kernel/fooinitrd', you can make this work with:

--location my-unknown.iso,kernel=kernel/fookernel,initrd=kernel/fooinitrd


Install from PXE. This just tells the VM to boot off the network for the first boot.


Skip the OS installation process, and build a guest around an existing disk image. The device used for booting is the first device specified via --disk or --filesystem.

-x, --extra-args

Syntax: -x, --extra-args KERNELARGS

Additional kernel command line arguments to pass to the installer when performing a guest install from --location. One common usage is specifying an anaconda kickstart file for automated installs, such as --extra-args "ks=https://myserver/my.ks"


Syntax: --initrd-inject PATH

Add PATH to the root of the initrd fetched with --location. This can be used to run an automated install without requiring a network hosted kickstart file: --initrd-inject=/path/to/my.ks --extra-args "ks=file:/my.ks"


This is a larger entry point for various types of install operations. The command has multiple subarguments, similar to --disk and friends. This option is strictly for VM install operations, essentially configuring the first boot.

The simplest usage to ex: install fedora29 is:

--install fedora29

And virt-install will fetch a --location URL from libosinfo, and populate defaults from there.

Available suboptions:


This is os install option described above. The explicit way to specify that would be --install os=fedora29 . os= is the default option if none is specified

kernel=, initrd=

Specify a kernel and initrd pair to use as install media. They are copied into a temporary location before booting the VM, so they can be combined with --initrd-inject and your source media will not be altered. Media will be uploaded to a remote connection if required.

Example case using local filesystem paths: --install kernel=/path/to/kernel,initrd=/path/to/initrd

Example using network paths. Kernel/initrd will be downloaded locally first, then passed to the VM as local filesystem paths: --install kernel=,initrd=

Note, these are just for install time booting. If you want to set the kernel used for permanent VM booting, use the --boot option.

kernel_args=, kernel_args_overwrite=yes|no

Specify install time kernel arguments (libvirt <cmdline> XML). These can be combine with ex: kernel/initrd options, or --location media. By default, kernel_args is just like --extra-args, and will _append_ to the arguments that virt-install will try to set by default for most --location installs. If you want to override the virt-install default, additionally specify kernel_args_overwrite=yes


Specify the install bootdev (hd, cdrom, floppy, network) to boot off of for the install phase. This maps to libvirt <os><boot dev=X> XML.

If you want to install off a cdrom or network, it's probably simpler and more backwards compatible to just use --cdrom or --pxe , but this options gives fine grained control over the install process if needed.


Tell virt-install that there isn't actually any install happening, and you just want to create the VM. --import is just an alias for this, as is specifying --boot without any other install options. The deprecated --live option is the same as '--cdrom $ISO --install no_install=yes'

--reinstall DOMAIN

Reinstall an existing VM. DOMAIN can be a VM name, UUID, or ID number. virt-install will fetch the domain XML from libvirt, apply the specified install config changes, boot the VM for the install process, and then revert to roughly the same starting XML.

Only install related options are processed, all other VM configuration options like --name, --disk, etc. are completely ignored.

If --reinstall is used with --cdrom, an existing CDROM attached to the VM will be used if one is available, otherwise a permanent CDROM device will be added.


Syntax: --unattended [OPTIONS]

Perform an unattended install using libosinfo's install script support. This is essentially a database of auto install scripts for various distros: Red Hat kickstarts, Debian installer scripting, Windows unattended installs, and potentially others. The simplest invocation is to combine it with --install like:

--install fedora29 --unattended

A Windows install will look like

--cdrom /path/to/my/windows.iso --unattended

Sub options are:


Choose which libosinfo unattended profile to use. Most distros have a 'desktop' and a 'jeos' profile. virt-install will default to 'desktop' if this is unspecified.


A file used to set the VM OS admin/root password from. This option can be used either as "admin-password-file=/path/to/password-file" or as "admin-password-file=/dev/fd/n", being n the file descriptor of the password-file. Note that only the first line of the file will be considered, including any whitespace characters and excluding new-line.


The user login name to be used in th VM. virt-install will default to your current host username if this is unspecified. Note that when running virt-install as "root", this option must be specified.


A file used to set the VM user password. This option can be used either as "user-password-file=/path/to/password-file" or as "user-password-file=/dev/fd/n", being n the file descriptor of the password-file. The username is either the user-login specified or your current host username. Note that only the first line of the file will be considered, including any whitespace characters and excluding new-line.


Set a Windows product key


Pass cloud-init metadata to the VM. A cloud-init NoCloud ISO file is generated, and attached to the VM as a CDROM device. The device is only attached for the first boot. This option is particularly useful for distro cloud images, which have locked login accounts by default; --cloud-init provides the means to initialize those login accounts, like setting a root password.

The simplest invocation is just plain --cloud-init with no suboptions; this maps to --cloud-init root-password-generate=on,disable=on. See those suboptions for explanation of how they work.

Use --cloud-init=? to see a list of all available sub options.

Sub options are:


Generate a new root password for the VM. When used, virt-install will print the generated password to the console, and pause for 10 seconds to give the user a chance to notice it and copy it.


Disable cloud-init in the VM for subsequent boots. Without this, cloud-init may reset auth on each boot.


A file used to set the VM root password from. This option can be used either as "root-password-file=/path/to/password-file" or as "root-password-file=/dev/fd/n", being n the file descriptor of the password-file. Note that only the first line of the file will be considered, including any whitespace characters and excluding new-line.


Specify a cloud-init meta-data file to add directly to the iso. All other meta-data configuration options on the --cloud-init command line are ignored.


Specify a cloud-init user-data file to add directly to the iso. All other user-data configuration options on the --cloud-init command line are ignored.


Specify a public key to inject into the guest, providing ssh access to the unprivileged account. Example: ssh-key=/home/user/.ssh/


Syntax: --boot BOOTOPTS

Optionally specify the post-install VM boot configuration. This option allows specifying a boot device order, permanently booting off kernel/initrd with option kernel arguments, and enabling a BIOS boot menu (requires libvirt 0.8.3 or later)

--boot can be specified in addition to other install options (such as --location, --cdrom, etc.) or can be specified on its own. In the latter case, behavior is similar to the --import install option: there is no 'install' phase, the guest is just created and launched as specified.

Some examples:

--boot cdrom,fd,hd,network

Set the boot device priority as first cdrom, first floppy, first harddisk, network PXE boot.

--boot kernel=KERNEL,initrd=INITRD,kernel_args="console=/dev/ttyS0"

Have guest permanently boot off a local kernel/initrd pair, with the specified kernel options.

--boot kernel=KERNEL,initrd=INITRD,dtb=DTB

Have guest permanently boot off a local kernel/initrd pair with an external device tree binary. DTB can be required for some non-x86 configurations like ARM or PPC

--boot loader=BIOSPATH

Use BIOSPATH as the virtual machine BIOS.

--boot bootmenu.enable=on,bios.useserial=on

Enable the bios boot menu, and enable sending bios text output over serial console.

--boot init=INITPATH

Path to a binary that the container guest will init. If a root --filesystem has been specified, virt-install will default to /sbin/init, otherwise will default to /bin/sh.

--boot uefi

Configure the VM to boot from UEFI. In order for virt-install to know the correct UEFI parameters, libvirt needs to be advertising known UEFI binaries via domcapabilities XML, so this will likely only work if using properly configured distro packages.

--boot loader=/.../OVMF_CODE.fd,loader.readonly=yes,loader.type=pflash,nvram.template=/.../OVMF_VARS.fd,loader_secure=no

Specify that the virtual machine use the custom OVMF binary as boot firmware, mapped as a virtual flash chip. In addition, request that libvirt instantiate the VM-specific UEFI varstore from the custom "/.../OVMF_VARS.fd" varstore template. This is the recommended UEFI setup, and should be used if --boot uefi doesn't know about your UEFI binaries. If your UEFI firmware supports Secure boot feature you can enable it via loader_secure.

Use --boot=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --idmap OPTIONS

If the guest configuration declares a UID or GID mapping, the 'user' namespace will be enabled to apply these. A suitably configured UID/GID mapping is a pre-requisite to make containers secure, in the absence of sVirt confinement.

--idmap can be specified to enable user namespace for LXC containers. Example:

--idmap uid.start=0,,uid.count=10,gid.start=0,,gid.count=10

Use --idmap=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

Guest OS Options

--os-variant, --osinfo

Syntax: --os-variant [OS_VARIANT|OPT1=VAL1,...]

Optimize the guest configuration for a specific operating system (ex. 'fedora29', 'rhel7', 'win10'). While not required, specifying this options is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as it can greatly increase performance by specifying virtio among other guest tweaks.

The simplest usage is --os-variant OS-NAME, for example --os-variant fedora32. --os-variant supports explicit suboption syntax as well:

name=, short-id=

The OS name/short-id from libosinfo. Examples: fedora32, win10


The full URL style libosinfo ID. For example, name=win10 is the same as id=


Whether virt-install should attempt OS detection from the specified install media. Detection is presently only attempted for URL and CDROM installs, and is not 100% reliable.


If on, virt-install errors if no OS value is set or detected.

Some interesting examples:

--os-variant detect=on,require=on

This tells virt-install to attempt detection from install media, but explicitly fail if that does not succeed. This will ensure your virt-install invocations don't fallback to a poorly performing config

--os-variant detect=on,name=OSNAME

Attempt OS detection from install media, but if that fails, use OSNAME as a fallback.

By default, virt-install will do --os-variant detect=on,name=generic, using the detected OS if found, and falling back to the stub generic value otherwise, and printing a warning.

If any manual --os-variant value is specified, the default is all settings off or unset.

Use the command "osinfo-query os" to get the list of the accepted OS variant names.

Storage Options


Syntax: --disk OPTIONS

Specifies media to use as storage for the guest, with various options. The general format of a disk string is

--disk opt1=val1,opt2=val2,...

The simplest invocation to create a new 10G disk image and associated disk device:

--disk size=10

virt-install will generate a path name, and place it in the default image location for the hypervisor. To specify media, the command can either be:

--disk /some/storage/path[,opt1=val1]...

or explicitly specify one of the following arguments:


A path to some storage media to use, existing or not. Existing media can be a file or block device.

Specifying a non-existent path implies attempting to create the new storage, and will require specifying a 'size' value. Even for remote hosts, virt-install will try to use libvirt storage APIs to automatically create the given path.

If the hypervisor supports it, path can also be a network URL, like . For network paths, they hypervisor will directly access the storage, nothing is downloaded locally.


An existing libvirt storage pool name to create new storage on. Requires specifying a 'size' value.


An existing libvirt storage volume to use. This is specified as 'poolname/volname'.

Options that apply to storage creation:


size (in GiB) to use if creating new storage


whether to skip fully allocating newly created storage. Value is 'yes' or 'no'. Default is 'yes' (do not fully allocate) unless it isn't supported by the underlying storage type.

The initial time taken to fully-allocate the guest virtual disk (sparse=no) will be usually balanced by faster install times inside the guest. Thus use of this option is recommended to ensure consistently high performance and to avoid I/O errors in the guest should the host filesystem fill up.


Disk image format. For file volumes, this can be 'raw', 'qcow2', 'vmdk', etc. See format types in for possible values. This is often mapped to the driver_type value as well.

If not specified when creating file images, this will default to 'qcow2'.

If creating storage, this will be the format of the new image. If using an existing image, this overrides libvirt's format auto-detection.


Path to a disk to use as the backing store for the newly created image.


Disk image format of backing_store

Some example device configuration suboptions:


Disk device type. Example values are be 'cdrom', 'disk', 'lun' or 'floppy'. The default is 'disk'.


Guest installation with multiple disks will need this parameter to boot correctly after being installed. A boot.order parameter will take values 1,2,3,... Devices with lower value has higher priority. This option applies to other bootable device types as well.

target.bus** or *bus

Disk bus type. Example values are be 'ide', 'sata', 'scsi', 'usb', 'virtio' or 'xen'. The default is hypervisor dependent since not all hypervisors support all bus types.


Set drive as readonly (takes 'on' or 'off')


Set drive as shareable (takes 'on' or 'off')


The cache mode to be used. The host pagecache provides cache memory. The cache value can be 'none', 'writethrough', 'directsync', 'unsafe' or 'writeback'. 'writethrough' provides read caching. 'writeback' provides read and write caching. 'directsync' bypasses the host page cache. 'unsafe' may cache all content and ignore flush requests from the guest.


Whether discard (also known as "trim" or "unmap") requests are ignored or passed to the filesystem. The value can be either "unmap" (allow the discard request to be passed) or "ignore" (ignore the discard request). Since 1.0.6 (QEMU and KVM only)

Driver name the hypervisor should use when accessing the specified storage. Typically does not need to be set by the user.


Driver format/type the hypervisor should use when accessing the specified storage. Typically does not need to be set by the user.

Disk IO backend. Can be either "threads", "native" or "io_uring".


How guest should react if a write error is encountered. Can be one of "stop", "ignore", or "enospace"


Serial number of the emulated disk device. This is used in linux guests to set /dev/disk/by-id symlinks. An example serial number might be: WD-WMAP9A966149


It defines what to do with the disk if the source file is not accessible.


Defines default behavior of the disk during disk snapshots.

See the examples section for some uses. This option deprecates -f/--file, -s/--file-size, --nonsparse, and --nodisks.

Use --disk=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Specifies a directory on the host to export to the guest. The most simple invocation is:

--filesystem /source/on/host,/target/point/in/guest

Which will work for recent QEMU and linux guest OS or LXC containers. For QEMU, the target point is just a mounting hint in sysfs, so will not be automatically mounted.

Some example suboptions:


The type or the source directory. Valid values are 'mount' (the default) or 'template' for OpenVZ templates.

accessmode or mode

The access mode for the source directory from the guest OS. Only used with QEMU and type=mount. Valid modes are 'passthrough' (the default), 'mapped', or 'squash'. See libvirt domain XML documentation for more info.


The directory on the host to share.


The mount location to use in the guest.

Use --filesystem=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

Networking Options

-w, --network

Syntax: -w, --network OPTIONS

Connect the guest to the host network. Examples for specifying the network type:


Connect to a bridge device in the host called BRIDGE. Use this option if the host has static networking config & the guest requires full outbound and inbound connectivity  to/from the LAN. Also use this if live migration will be used with this guest.


Connect to a virtual network in the host called NAME. Virtual networks can be listed, created, deleted using the virsh command line tool. In an unmodified install of libvirt there is usually a virtual network with a name of default. Use a virtual network if the host has dynamic networking (eg NetworkManager), or using wireless. The guest will be NATed to the LAN by whichever connection is active.


Direct connect to host interface IFACE using macvtap.


Connect to the LAN using SLIRP. Only use this if running a QEMU guest as an unprivileged user. This provides a very limited form of NAT.


Tell virt-install not to add any default network interface.

If --network is omitted a single NIC will be created in the guest. If there is a bridge device in the host with a physical interface attached, that will be used for connectivity. Failing that, the virtual network called default will be used. This option can be specified multiple times to setup more than one NIC.

Some example suboptions:

model.type or model

Network device model as seen by the guest. Value can be any nic model supported by the hypervisor, e.g.: 'e1000', 'rtl8139', 'virtio', ...

mac.address or mac

Fixed MAC address for the guest; If this parameter is omitted, or the value RANDOM is specified a suitable address will be randomly generated. For Xen virtual machines it is required that the first 3 pairs in the MAC address be the sequence '00:16:3e', while for QEMU or KVM virtual machines it must be '52:54:00'.


Controlling firewall and network filtering in libvirt. Value can be any nwfilter defined by the virsh 'nwfilter' subcommands. Available filters can be listed by running 'virsh nwfilter-list', e.g.: 'clean-traffic', 'no-mac-spoofing', ...

virtualport.* options

Configure the device virtual port profile. This is used for 802.Qbg, 802.Qbh, midonet, and openvswitch config.

Use --network=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

This option deprecates -m/--mac, -b/--bridge, and --nonetworks

Graphics Options

If no graphics option is specified, virt-install will try to select the appropriate graphics if the DISPLAY environment variable is set, otherwise '--graphics none' is used.


Syntax: --graphics TYPE,opt1=arg1,opt2=arg2,...

Specifies the graphical display configuration. This does not configure any virtual hardware, just how the guest's graphical display can be accessed. Typically the user does not need to specify this option, virt-install will try and choose a useful default, and launch a suitable connection.

General format of a graphical string is

--graphics TYPE,opt1=arg1,opt2=arg2,...

For example:

--graphics vnc,password=foobar

Some supported TYPE values:


Setup a virtual console in the guest and export it as a VNC server in the host. Unless the port parameter is also provided, the VNC server will run on the first free port number at 5900 or above. The actual VNC display allocated can be obtained using the vncdisplay command to virsh (or virt-viewer(1) can be used which handles this detail for the use).


Export the guest's console using the Spice protocol. Spice allows advanced features like audio and USB device streaming, as well as improved graphical performance.

Using spice graphic type will work as if those arguments were given:

--video qxl --channel spicevmc

No graphical console will be allocated for the guest. Guests will likely need to have a text console configured on the first serial port in the guest (this can be done via the --extra-args option). The command 'virsh console NAME' can be used to connect to the serial device.

Some supported suboptions:


Request a permanent, statically assigned port number for the guest console. This is used by 'vnc' and 'spice'


Specify the spice tlsport.


Request a VNC WebSocket port for the guest console.

If -1 is specified, the WebSocket port is auto-allocated.

This is used by 'vnc' and 'spice'


Address to listen on for VNC/Spice connections. Default is typically (localhost only), but some hypervisors allow changing this globally (for example, the qemu driver default can be changed in /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf). Use to allow access from other machines.

Use 'none' to specify that the display server should not listen on any port. The display server can be accessed only locally through libvirt unix socket (virt-viewer with --attach for instance).

Use 'socket' to have the VM listen on a libvirt generated unix socket path on the host filesystem.

This is used by 'vnc' and 'spice'


Request a console password, required at connection time. Beware, this info may end up in virt-install log files, so don't use an important password. This is used by 'vnc' and 'spice'


Whether to use OpenGL accelerated rendering. Value is 'yes' or 'no'. This is used by 'spice'.


DRM render node path to use. This is used when 'gl' is enabled.

Use --graphics=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

This deprecates the following options: --vnc, --vncport, --vnclisten, -k/--keymap, --sdl, --nographics


Syntax: --autoconsole OPTIONS

Configure what interactive console virt-install will launch for the VM. This option is not required; the default behavior is adaptive and dependent on how the VM is configured. But you can use this option to override the default choice.

--autoconsole graphical

Use the graphical virt-viewer(1) as the interactive console

--autoconsole text

Use the text mode virsh console as the interactive console.

--autoconsole none

This is the same as --noautoconsole


Don't automatically try to connect to the guest console. Same as --autoconsole none

Note, virt-install exits quickly when this option is specified. If your command requested a multistep install, like --cdrom or --location, after the install phase is complete the VM will be shutoff, regardless of whether a reboot was requested in the VM. If you want the VM to be rebooted, virt-install must remain running. You can use '--wait' to keep virt-install alive even if --noautoconsole is specified.

Virtualization Options

Options to override the default virtualization type choices.

-v, --hvm

Request the use of full virtualization, if both para & full virtualization are available on the host. This parameter may not be available if connecting to a Xen hypervisor on a machine without hardware virtualization support. This parameter is implied if connecting to a QEMU based hypervisor.

-p, --paravirt

This guest should be a paravirtualized guest. If the host supports both para & full virtualization, and neither this parameter nor the --hvm are specified, this will be assumed.


This guest should be a container type guest. This option is only required if the hypervisor supports other guest types as well (so for example this option is the default behavior for LXC and OpenVZ, but is provided for completeness).


The hypervisor to install on. Example choices are kvm, qemu, or xen. Available options are listed via 'virsh capabilities' in the <domain> tags.

This deprecates the --accelerate option, which is now the default behavior. To install a plain QEMU guest, use '--virt-type qemu'

Device Options

All devices have a set of address.* options for configuring the particulars of the device's address on its parent controller or bus. See for details.


Syntax: --controller OPTIONS

Attach a controller device to the guest. TYPE is one of: ide, fdc, scsi, sata, virtio-serial, or usb .

Controller also supports the special values usb2 and usb3 to specify which version of the USB controller should be used (version 2 or 3).

Some example suboptions:


Controller model.  These may vary according to the hypervisor and its version.  Most commonly used models are e.g. auto , virtio-scsi for the scsi controller, ehci or none``for the ``usb controller.

Use --controller=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --input OPTIONS

Attach an input device to the guest. Example input device types are mouse, tablet, or keyboard.

Use --input=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at

--hostdev, --host-device

Syntax: --hostdev, --host-device OPTIONS

Attach a physical host device to the guest. Some example values for HOSTDEV:

--hostdev pci_0000_00_1b_0

A node device name via libvirt, as shown by 'virsh nodedev-list'

--hostdev 001.003

USB by bus, device (via lsusb).

--hostdev 0x1234:0x5678

USB by vendor, product (via lsusb).

--hostdev 1f.01.02

PCI device (via lspci).

--hostdev wlan0,type=net

Network device (in LXC container).

--hostdev /dev/net/tun,type=misc

Character device (in LXC container).

--hostdev /dev/sdf,type=storage

Block device (in LXC container).

Use --hostdev=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --sound MODEL

Attach a virtual audio device to the guest. MODEL specifies the emulated sound card model. Possible values are ich6, ich9, ac97, es1370, sb16, pcspk, or default. 'default' will try to pick the best model that the specified OS supports.

This deprecates the old --soundhw option. Use --sound=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --watchdog MODEL[,action=ACTION]

Attach a virtual hardware watchdog device to the guest. This requires a daemon and device driver in the guest. The watchdog fires a signal when the virtual machine appears to hung. ACTION specifies what libvirt will do when the watchdog fires. Values are


Forcefully reset the guest (the default)


Forcefully power off the guest


Pause the guest


Do nothing


Gracefully shutdown the guest (not recommended, since a hung guest probably won't respond to a graceful shutdown)

MODEL is the emulated device model: either i6300esb (the default) or ib700. Some examples:

--watchdog default

Use the recommended settings

--watchdog i6300esb,action=poweroff

Use the i6300esb with the 'poweroff' action

Use --watchdog=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --serial OPTIONS

Specifies a serial device to attach to the guest, with various options. The general format of a serial string is

--serial type,opt1=val1,opt2=val2,...

--serial and --parallel devices share all the same options, unless otherwise noted. Some of the types of character device redirection are:

--serial pty

Pseudo TTY. The allocated pty will be listed in the running guests XML description.

--serial dev,path=HOSTPATH

Host device. For serial devices, this could be /dev/ttyS0. For parallel devices, this could be /dev/parport0.

--serial file,path=FILENAME

Write output to FILENAME.

--serial tcp,host=HOST:PORT,source.mode=MODE,protocol.type=PROTOCOL

TCP net console. MODE is either 'bind' (wait for connections on HOST:PORT) or 'connect' (send output to HOST:PORT), default is 'bind'. HOST defaults to '', but PORT is required. PROTOCOL can be either 'raw' or 'telnet' (default 'raw'). If 'telnet', the port acts like a telnet server or client. Some examples:

Wait for connections on any address, port 4567:

--serial tcp,host=

Connect to localhost, port 1234:

--serial tcp,host=:1234,source.mode=connect

Wait for telnet connection on localhost, port 2222. The user could then connect interactively to this console via 'telnet localhost 2222':

--serial tcp,host=:2222,source.mode=bind,source.protocol=telnet

--serial udp,host=CONNECT_HOST:PORT,bind_host=BIND_HOST:BIND_PORT

UDP net console. HOST:PORT is the destination to send output to (default HOST is '', PORT is required). BIND_HOST:BIND_PORT is the optional local address to bind to (default BIND_HOST is, but is only set if BIND_PORT is specified). Some examples:

Send output to default syslog port (may need to edit /etc/rsyslog.conf accordingly):

--serial udp,host=:514

Send output to remote host, port 4444 (this output can be read on the remote host using 'nc -u -l 4444'):

--serial udp,host=

--serial unix,path=UNIXPATH,mode=MODE

Unix socket, see unix(7). MODE has similar behavior and defaults as --serial tcp,mode=MODE

Use --serial=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --parallel OPTIONS

Specify a parallel device. The format and options are largely identical to serial

Use --parallel=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Specifies a communication channel device to connect the guest and host machine. This option uses the same options as --serial and --parallel for specifying the host/source end of the channel. Extra 'target' options are used to specify how the guest machine sees the channel.

Some of the types of character device redirection are:

--channel SOURCE,target.type=guestfwd,target.address=HOST:PORT

Communication channel using QEMU usermode networking stack. The guest can connect to the channel using the specified HOST:PORT combination.

--channel SOURCE,target.type=virtio[,]

Communication channel using virtio serial (requires 2.6.34 or later host and guest). Each instance of a virtio --channel line is exposed in the guest as /dev/vport0p1, /dev/vport0p2, etc. NAME is optional metadata, and can be any string, such as org.linux-kvm.virtioport1. If specified, this will be exposed in the guest at /sys/class/virtio-ports/vport0p1/NAME

--channel spicevmc,target.type=virtio[,]

Communication channel for QEMU spice agent, using virtio serial (requires 2.6.34 or later host and guest). NAME is optional metadata, and can be any string, such as the default com.redhat.spice.0 that specifies how the guest will see the channel.

Use --channel=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Connect a text console between the guest and host. Certain guest and hypervisor combinations can automatically set up a getty in the guest, so an out of the box text login can be provided (target_type=xen for xen paravirt guests, and possibly target_type=virtio in the future).


--console pty,target.type=virtio

Connect a virtio console to the guest, redirected to a PTY on the host. For supported guests, this exposes /dev/hvc0 in the guest. See for more info. virtio console requires libvirt 0.8.3 or later.

Use --console=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --video OPTIONS

Specify what video device model will be attached to the guest. Valid values for VIDEO are hypervisor specific, but some options for recent kvm are cirrus, vga, qxl, virtio, or vmvga (vmware). Use --video=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --smartcard MODE[,OPTIONS]

Configure a virtual smartcard device.

Example MODE values are host, host-certificates, or passthrough. Example suboptions include:


Character device type to connect to on the host. This is only applicable for passthrough mode.

An example invocation:

--smartcard passthrough,type=spicevmc

Use the smartcard channel of a SPICE graphics device to pass smartcard info to the guest

Use --smartcard=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --redirdev BUS[,OPTIONS]

Add a redirected device. Example suboptions:


The redirection type, currently supported is tcp or spicevmc .


The TCP server connection details, of the form 'server:port'.

Examples invocations:

--redirdev usb,type=tcp,server=localhost:4000

Add a USB redirected device provided by the TCP server on 'localhost' port 4000.

--redirdev usb,type=spicevmc

Add a USB device redirected via a dedicated Spice channel.

Use --redirdev=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --memballoon MODEL[,OPTIONS]

Attach a virtual memory balloon device to the guest. If the memballoon device needs to be explicitly disabled, MODEL='none' is used.

MODEL is the type of memballoon device provided. The value can be 'virtio', 'xen' or 'none'. Some examples:

--memballoon virtio

Explicitly create a 'virtio' memballoon device

--memballoon none

Disable the memballoon device

Use --memballoon=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --tpm TYPE[,OPTIONS]

Configure a virtual TPM device. Examples:

--tpm /dev/tpm

Convenience option for passing through the hosts TPM.

--tpm emulator

Request an emulated TPM device.

Use --tpm=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --rng TYPE[,OPTIONS]

Configure a virtual RNG device.

Example TYPE values include random, egd or builtin.

Example invocations:

--rng /dev/urandom

Use the /dev/urandom device to get entropy data, this form implicitly uses the "random" model.

--rng builtin

Use the builtin rng device to get entropy data.

--rng egd,,backend.source.service=8000,backend.type=tcp

Connect to localhost to the TCP port 8000 to get entropy data.

Use --rng=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --panic MODEL[,OPTS]

Attach a panic notifier device to the guest. For the recommended settings, use: --panic default

Use --panic=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --memdev OPTS

Add a memory module to a guest which can be hotunplugged. To add a memdev you need to configure hotplugmemory and NUMA for a guest.

Use --memdev=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --vsock OPTS

Configure a vsock host/guest interface. A typical configuration would be


Use --vsock=? to see a list of all available sub options. Complete details at


Syntax: --iommu MODEL[,OPTS]

Add an IOMMU device to the guest.

Use --iommu=? to see a list of all available options. Complete details at

Miscellaneous Options

-h, --help

Show the help message and exit


Show program's version number and exit


Set the autostart flag for a domain. This causes the domain to be started on host boot up.


Use --import or --boot and --transient if you want a transient libvirt VM.  These VMs exist only until the domain is shut down or the host server is restarted.  Libvirt forgets the XML configuration of the VM after either of these events.  Note that the VM's disks will not be deleted.  See:


When the VM console window is exited, destroy (force poweroff) the VM. If you combine this with --transient, this makes the virt-install command work similar to qemu, where the VM is shutdown when the console window is closed by the user.


Syntax: --print-xml [STEP]

Print the generated XML of the guest, instead of defining it. By default this WILL do storage creation (can be disabled with --dry-run). This option implies --quiet.

If the VM install has multiple phases, by default this will print all generated XML. If you want to print a particular step, use --print-xml 2 (for the second phase XML).


Prevent the domain from automatically rebooting after the install has completed.


Syntax: --wait WAIT

Configure how virt-install will wait for the install to complete. Without this option, virt-install will wait for the console to close (not necessarily indicating the guest has shutdown), or in the case of --noautoconsole, simply kick off the install and exit.

Bare '--wait' or any negative value will make virt-install wait indefinitely. Any positive number is the number of minutes virt-install will wait. If the time limit is exceeded, virt-install simply exits, leaving the virtual machine in its current state.


Proceed through the guest creation process, but do NOT create storage devices, change host device configuration, or actually teach libvirt about the guest. virt-install may still fetch install media, since this is required to properly detect the OS to install.


Enable or disable some validation checks. Some examples are warning about using a disk that's already assigned to another VM (--check path_in_use=on|off), or warning about potentially running out of space during disk allocation (--check disk_size=on|off). Most checks are performed by default.

-q, --quiet

Only print fatal error messages.

-d, --debug

Print debugging information to the terminal when running the install process. The debugging information is also stored in ~/.cache/virt-manager/virt-install.log even if this parameter is omitted.


The simplest invocation to interactively install a Fedora 29 KVM VM with recommended defaults. virt-viewer(1) will be launched to graphically interact with the VM install

# sudo virt-install --install fedora29

Similar, but use libosinfo's unattended install support, which will perform the fedora29 install automatically without user intervention:

# sudo virt-install --install fedora29 --unattended

Install a Windows 10 VM, using 40GiB storage in the default location and 4096MiB of ram, and ensure we are connecting to the system libvirtd instance:

# virt-install \
   --connect qemu:///system \
   --name my-win10-vm \
   --memory 4096 \
   --disk size=40 \
   --os-variant win10 \
   --cdrom /path/to/my/win10.iso

Install a CentOS 7 KVM from a URL, with recommended device defaults and default required storage, but specifically request VNC graphics instead of the default SPICE, and request 8 virtual CPUs and 8192 MiB of memory:

# virt-install \
    --connect qemu:///system \
    --memory 8192 \
    --vcpus 8 \
    --graphics vnc \
    --os-variant centos7.0 \

Create a VM around an existing debian9 disk image:

# virt-install \
    --import \
    --memory 512 \
    --disk /home/user/VMs/my-debian9.img \
    --os-variant debian9

Start serial QEMU ARM VM, which requires specifying a manual kernel.

# virt-install \
    --name armtest \
    --memory 1024 \
    --arch armv7l --machine vexpress-a9 \
    --disk /home/user/VMs/myarmdisk.img \
    --boot kernel=/tmp/my-arm-kernel,initrd=/tmp/my-arm-initrd,dtb=/tmp/my-arm-dtb,kernel_args="console=ttyAMA0 rw root=/dev/mmcblk0p3" \
    --graphics none

Start an SEV launch security VM with 4GB RAM, 4GB+256MiB of hard_limit, with a couple of virtio devices:

Note: The IOMMU flag needs to be turned on with driver.iommu for virtio devices. Usage of --memtune is currently required because of SEV limitations, refer to libvirt docs for a detailed explanation.

# virt-install \
    --name foo \
    --memory 4096 \
    --boot uefi \
    --machine q35 \
    --memtune hard_limit=4563402 \
    --disk size=15,target.bus=scsi \
    --import \
    --controller type=scsi,model=virtio-scsi,driver.iommu=on \
    --controller type=virtio-serial,driver.iommu=on \
    --network network=default,model=virtio,driver.iommu=on \
    --rng /dev/random,driver.iommu=on \
    --memballoon driver.iommu=on \
    --launchSecurity sev


Please see

See Also

virsh(1), virt-clone(1), virt-manager(1), the project website

Referenced By

libvirtd(8), stapvirt(1), virsh(1), virt-bootstrap(1), virt-builder(1), virt-clone(1), virt-xml(1).

Virtualization Support