Incus

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Incus is a next generation system container and virtual machine manager. It offers a unified user experience around full Linux systems running inside containers or virtual machines. Incus is a fork from LXD.

Incus is image based and provides images for a wide number of Linux distributions. It provides flexibility and scalability for various use cases, with support for different storage backends and network types and the option to install on hardware ranging from an individual laptop or cloud instance to a full server rack.

When using Incus, you can manage your instances (containers and VMs) with a simple command line tool, directly through the REST API or by using third-party tools and integrations. Incus implements a single REST API for both local and remote access.

Installing

Currently Incus is only available as a unstable package in Gentoo. Incus LTS will be stabilized after its release in 2024/Q2 (estimate).

To install incus, issue:

root #emerge --ask app-containers/incus

Pay attention to kernel config requirement messages when installing Incus. Missing kernel features may mean the program won't function at all. Also pay attention to any optional features printed by emerge after successful installation.

In a stable system, currently Incus and some of its dependencies must be allowed via ACCEPT_KEYWORDS.

Configuring service files

Defaults should work just fine, but modifications for Incus's service can be made.

OpenRC

Edit /etc/conf.d/incus

systemd

root #systemctl edit --full incus.service

Adding a user to correct groups

Incus can be run as a regular user, or as a root. To have a user capable of launching and operating containers, add the user to the incus group. For example, to add a user named larry into incus group, issue:

root #usermod --append --groups incus larry

There's also incus-admin group for incus admin commands. It's recommended that only root is able to call these, and not regular users.

Configure idmaps

Incus uses idmaps to give non-root users root access inside containers. Easy way to get usable idmaps is to simply issue:

root #echo "root:1000000:1000000000" | tee -a /etc/subuid /etc/subgid
Important
There's a "bug" in incus-0.4 regarding how incus-user is able to map ids, please check Troubleshooting#Fresh-containers-fail-to-start-with-a-cryptic-"newuidmap-failed-to-write-mapping"-message.

Start the daemons

OpenRC

With incus-user configured

When running incus as a regular user, the incus-user service needs to be started as well as main incus service.

root #rc-service incus start
root #rc-service incus-user start

To have the services automatically start at boot:

root #rc-service add incus default
root #rc-service add incus-user default
Without incus-user configured

If only using container through the root user, only incus main service needs to be started.

root #rc-service incus start
root #rc-service add incus default

systemd

With incus-user configured

When running incus as a regular user, the incus-user service needs to be started as well as main incus service.

root #systemctl start incus
root #systemctl start incus-user

To have the services automatically start at boot:

root #systemctl enable incus
root #systemctl enable incus-user
Note
Note that there's also a incus-startup service that can be used instead of main incus service.

Migrating from LXD

With the 'lxd-to-incus' tool

Incus ships with a tool called lxd-to-incus that can be used to convert an existing LXD system to Incus. If using this tool, Incus does not need to be initialized to get it running, but the main service needs to be started. The tool currently works with LXD-5.0 (LTS), LXD-5.18, LXD-5.19 and LXD-5.20.

Due to the way LXD and Incus works, it may be necessary to add users to the incus-admin group to see their LXD containers after migration.

Check that both Incus and LXD works before starting with

root #incus info
root #lxc info

lxd-to-incus tool will do a dry-run before applying any changes. In case of errors, no data will be migrated.

Important
All containers are stopped before migration so make sure no important tasks are running - and plan for some downtime just in case!
root #lxd-to-incus

After a successful migration, Incus is ready for use!

Manual migration

It's possible to add local lxd image storage as a "remote", with incus remote add then manually incus copy or incus move to a new incus storage pool. Note that the containers need to be stopped for this to work!

Important
Incus needs to be initialized first before manual migration can work, check initializing Incus.
Local (single-host) system

In this example both incus and lxd are installed on a single-host system.

First both incus and lxd must be made to allow connections. This operation can be done either-way, so it's possible to add incus as remote and move from local lxd to remote incus, or by adding lxd as remote and moving from remote lxd to local incus.

user $incus config set core.https_address :8443
user $lxc config set core.https_address :8444

In this example, LXD's image pool is added as a remote and then LXD container is copied under incus.

user $incus remote add my-lxd unix:///var/lib/lxd/unix.socket
user $incus remote list

LXD's containers and virtual machines should now be visible for incus:

user $incus list my-lxd:

Copy your desired my-important-container from LXD to incus.

user $incus copy my-lxd:my-important-container local:

Use copy or move. Note that the source container must be stopped!

Disable TLS access when you're done:

user $lxc config unset core.https_address
user $incus config unset core.https_address


Public system

Launching or copying from an already public image hosting system shouldn't change from how you normally operate. Use lxd publish to set your images visible.

Initializing Incus

Important
If you're migrating from LXD to Incus, use the lxd-to-incus tool as guided above, and don't initialize Incus here!

This needs to be done once after Incus has been installed. Simply issue

root #incus admin init --minimal

to initialize Incus with default settings. This will fit most setups, and can be re-configured through incus admin and incus profile later.

To edit the defaults, issue:

root #incus admin init

Configuration

Profile

Incus has a top-level profile which the containers can inherit, and which is accessible through

user $incus profile

command.

user $incus profile list
user $incus profile show default
user $incus profile edit default

Individual containers can be configured likewise with

user $incus config show my-container
user $incus config edit my-container

Custom profiles can be created and inherited for containers. Example shown in Launching containers.

Network

When initializing Incus with the incus admin init command, it should create working network properties on the fly. Network can be configured manually afterwards, too.

user $incus network list
user $incus network create incusbr0
user $incus profile device remove default eth0
user $incus profile device add default eth0 nic network=incusbr0 name=eth0

etc. See upstream documentation for more details.

Usage

Finding pre-built container images

Upstream offers variety of pre-built container and virtual machine images under the default images: remote repository. To list all images, please visit website or find the images through incus:

user $incus image list images:

Find a specific distribution:

user $incus image list images:gentoo
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
|             ALIAS             | FINGERPRINT  | PUBLIC |              DESCRIPTION              | ARCHITECTURE |      TYPE       |    SIZE    |          UPLOAD DATE          |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
| gentoo/openrc (3 more)        | 224df928674f | yes    | Gentoo current amd64 (20231226_16:07) | x86_64       | VIRTUAL-MACHINE | 1056.96MiB | Dec 26, 2023 at 12:00am (UTC) |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
| gentoo/openrc (3 more)        | 31864611e02c | yes    | Gentoo current amd64 (20231226_16:07) | x86_64       | CONTAINER       | 341.64MiB  | Dec 26, 2023 at 12:00am (UTC) |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
| gentoo/openrc/arm64 (1 more)  | 7bca8c9e9146 | yes    | Gentoo current arm64 (20231226_16:07) | aarch64      | CONTAINER       | 317.95MiB  | Dec 26, 2023 at 12:00am (UTC) |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
| gentoo/systemd (3 more)       | 5f36c387c427 | yes    | Gentoo current amd64 (20231226_16:07) | x86_64       | CONTAINER       | 360.51MiB  | Dec 26, 2023 at 12:00am (UTC) |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
| gentoo/systemd (3 more)       | 6a8e0e148c35 | yes    | Gentoo current amd64 (20231226_16:07) | x86_64       | VIRTUAL-MACHINE | 1093.95MiB | Dec 26, 2023 at 12:00am (UTC) |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+
| gentoo/systemd/arm64 (1 more) | 68463fabbf65 | yes    | Gentoo current arm64 (20231226_16:07) | aarch64      | CONTAINER       | 333.32MiB  | Dec 26, 2023 at 12:00am (UTC) |
+-------------------------------+--------------+--------+---------------------------------------+--------------+-----------------+------------+-------------------------------+

A simple grep can also be paired with the listing. The TYPE field will show whether a virtual machine image is available.

Launching containers

To launch a container from upstream image server, check the ALIAS field an issue for example:

user $incus launch images:gentoo/openrc my-gentoo-container

which will download, unpack, and start an OpenRC-based Gentoo container. Log in to the container with:

user $incus exec my-gentoo-container bash

To edit container's config, first stop the container and then edit its config:

user $incus stop my-gentoo-container
user $incus config edit my-gentoo-container

If the container can't be stopped, please see Troubleshooting#Containers or virtual machines (OpenRC) not shutting down properly

Find available containers:

user $incus list
user $incus start my-gentoo-container
user $incus exec my-gentoo-container bash

Launch a container with a specific, unique profile:

user $incus launch images:gentoo/openrc -p my-predefined-profile my-gentoo-container-with-custom-profile


Limiting container resources

Incus can allocate resources to containers in many different ways. Here are only few examples listed. Check upstream documentation for everything: CPU, memory, disk I/O, process etc limits.

CPU

Allow specific container to only use 8 cores.

user $incus config set my-container limits.cpu 8

Or allow it to only use 80 % of CPU capability:

user $incus config set my-container limits.cpu.allowance 80%

And give it the lowest CPU priority:

user $incus config set my-vm limits.cpu.priority 0
Memory

Give the container 8 GB of memory:

user $incus config set my-container limits.memory 8GB
Note
Also accepts MB as a value.

Launching virtual machines

Incus can use QEMU to run virtual machines. Running and operating virtual machines requires QEMU to be installed, with the following USE-flags enabled: spice, usbredir, virtfs along with app-cdr/cdrtools for its mkisofs binary.

FILE /etc/portage/package.use/qemu
app-emulation/qemu spice usbredir virtfs
FILE /etc/portage/sets/optfeature
# incus vm support
app-cdr/cdrtools
app-emulation/qemu
root #emerge --ask app-emulation/qemu

The following kernel options are needed: CONFIG_MACVTAP, CONFIG_VHOST_VSOCK, CONFIG_KVM and either CONFIG_KVM_AMD or CONFIG_KVM_INTEL depending on the system's CPU. Please see QEMU#Kernel for more accurate config options. You'll also need to enable virtualization in your BIOS, otherwise you'll get an error message of "KVM: disabled by BIOS". Basically, make sure /dev/kvm exists before trying to launch a virtual machine. And setup QEMU properly so it works.

For graphical sessions to work in a virtual machine, i.e. logging to a desktop, either app-emulation/virt-viewer or net-misc/spice-gtk needs to be installed.

The default image server already hosts many virtual machine alternatives, even pre-configured desktop VM images. When listing upstream images through

user $incus image list images:

as shown before, check the TYPE field that a virtual machine is available. Many pre-configured desktop images can be found with a "desktop" in their description.

Virtual machines can be launched in a similar manner to containers, just append the --vm flag to the command:

user $incus launch images:gentoo/openrc my-gentoo-vm --vm

If everything is working properly, the VM will be started upon launching it. If not, check Troubleshooting.

Access the shell similarly with

user $incus exec my-gentoo-vm bash

A graphical virtual machine session can be opened with

user $incus console my-gentoo-vm --type=vga

Note that it requires a GUI-capable program to be installed. See options above.

Limiting virtual machine resources

Allocating CPU and memory resources for VMs works the same way as for containers. Please see Limiting container resources.

Note
By default VMs are very limited for CPU and memory and it's recommended to raise them before trying to use those VMs.
Growing default disk size

Simply the following should work when the VM is off:

user $incus config device set my-vm root size=20GB

These profile settings can be used to create VMs with bigger disk sizes. Make sure the profile is inherited by the VM in question.

user $incus profile show bigger-vm-disk
config: {}
description: VM Profile for a bigger root disk
devices:
  root:
    path: /
    pool: default
    size: 50GB
    type: disk
user $incus config show my-vm
...
profiles:
- default
- bigger-vm-disk
...

If it does not, the manual method below is a more sureway to get it done:

On the host resize image with qemu-img.

root #cd /var/lib/incus/virtual-machines/my-vm/
root #qemu-img resize root.img 20G
Note
Depending on image, qemu-img resize -f raw root.img 20G might be required instead.

Now move on to the virtual machine.

user $incus start my-vm
user $incus exec my-vm bash
my-vm #emerge -av sys-fs/growpart
my-vm #df -h
my-vm #growpart /dev/sda 2
my-vm #resize2fs /dev/sda2
my-vm #df -h


Red Hat / CentOS variants

Due to RHEL/CentOS based distributions not shipping the 9p driver, workarounds are needed to launch their virtual machines.

user $incus create images:centos/9-Stream my-centos-vm --vm
user $incus config device add my-centos-vm agent disk source=agent:config
user $incus start my-centos-vm

A profile can be created with this config pre-defined, then vm's launched using that profile:

user $incus profile create rhel-vm-agent
user $incus profile device add rhel-vm-agent agent disk source=agent:config
user $incus launch images:centos/9-Stream my-centos-vm-2 --vm -p default -p rhel-vm-agent

Making custom container images

Distrobuilder can be used to make a custom container or virtual machine images. Please see the wiki page for guidance.

Advanced usage

Container backups

TODO

Move/copy containers between projects

Let's say you later decided to start using Incus by utilizing the incus-user approach, but all your containers are migrated/created with incus-admin privileges. You can move/copy these containers under your user's profile. First make sure incus-user is initialized, and working properly on your user. Then identify the projects:

root #incus project list
+-------------------+--------+----------+-----------------+-----------------+----------+---------------+---------------------------------------------+---------+
|       NAME        | IMAGES | PROFILES | STORAGE VOLUMES | STORAGE BUCKETS | NETWORKS | NETWORK ZONES |                 DESCRIPTION                 | USED BY |
+-------------------+--------+----------+-----------------+-----------------+----------+---------------+---------------------------------------------+---------+
| default (current) | YES    | YES      | YES             | YES             | YES      | YES           | Default Incus project                       | 10      |
+-------------------+--------+----------+-----------------+-----------------+----------+---------------+---------------------------------------------+---------+
| user-1000         | YES    | YES      | YES             | YES             | NO       | YES           | User restricted project for "larry" (1000) | 4       |
+-------------------+--------+----------+-----------------+-----------------+----------+---------------+---------------------------------------------+---------+

Check the container names:

root #incus list

Move or copy the desired containers under your user's project, therefore giving your user the full access to the moved/copied containers:

Important
The containers need to be stopped before this can be attempted!
root #incus copy --target-project user-1000 source-container target-container

Fix any errors if there are some. After successful operation, the container should be visible in your user's project:

user $incus list

Multi-host setup

TODO

Pulseaudio in a container

TODO

Sharing files/directories between container and host

With incus-user your project should already have default idmaps solved. If it does not, add the following config either to your individual containers, or to the profile you're using.

user $incus profile edit default
config:
  raw.idmap: |-
    uid 1000 1000
    gid 1000 1000

Where the uid and gid values match your user's id -u and id -g values. These need to be present in hosts /etc/subuid and /etc/subgid files too:

FILE /etc/subuid
root:1000000:1000000000
incus:1000000:1000000000
root:1000:1
incus:1000:1
FILE /etc/subgid
root:1000000:1000000000
incus:1000000:1000000000
root:1000:1
incus:1000:1

Share directories with:

user $incus config edit my-container
devices:
  containerscripts:
    path: /root/bin
    source: /home/larry/bin/containerscripts
    type: disk
  distfiles:
    path: /var/cache/distfiles/
    source: /var/cache/distfiles/
    type: disk

If you get a message saying "Disk source path not allowed", please check the Troubleshooting section for it.

systemd containers on OpenRC host

First openrc must be configured to be in hybrid or unified mode.

FILE /etc/rc.conf
rc_cgroup_mode="hybrid"

rc_cgroup_controllers="yes"
rc_controller_cgroups="yes"

Reboot is a must if you made changes here.

Incus's default init.d file should already create the required /sys/fs mounts,

FILE /etc/init.d/incus
...
install -d /sys/fs/cgroup/systemd --group incus-admin --owner root
mount -t cgroup -o none,name=systemd systemd /sys/fs/cgroup/systemd
...

X and Wayland apps in a container

For X applications, edit the container config with:

user $incus config edit my-container
config:
  environment.DISPLAY: :0.0
...
devices:
  X0:
    path: /tmp/.X11-unix
    source: /tmp/.X11-unix
    type: disk
  mygpu:
    gid: "1000"
    type: gpu
    uid: "1000"

Where environment.DISPLAY is the value of your hosts $DISPLAY env value. gid and uid should match your id -g and id -u respectively. With Xorg you'll also need to allow connections from container by using xhost +local:.

Wayland is a bit trickier. Many programs will disallow running wayland as root, therefore you'll need to create a new user to the container, and map that user's subgid and subid in your host.

root #echo "gui:1000:1"
root # sudo tee -a /etc/subuid /etc/subgid

Note: the id (1000) should match your user's id -g and id -u values.

Log in to the container to create the new user, then logout:

user $incus start my-container
user $incus exec my-container bash
my-container #useradd gui
my-container #logout
user $incus stop my-container

Edit your container, or profile with:

user $incus config edit my-container
  mygpu:
    gid: "1000"
    type: gpu
    uid: "1000"
  xdgruntimedir:
    path: /home/gui/.xdg_runtime_dir
    source: /run/user/1000
    type: disk

Where the id, gid and /run/user/1000 needs to match your hosts user's id -g and id -u.

Start your container:

user $incus start my-container
my-container #su gui
my-container #cd ~
my-container #vim ~/.profile
FILE /home/gui/.profile
export XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/home/gui/.xdg_runtime_dir
export WAYLAND_DISPLAY=wayland-0
export QT_QPA_PLATFORM=wayland
export DISPLAY=:0.0

Now inside your container the gui user can launch X or wayland applications. On Wayland host, Xwayland :0.0 needs to be launched before X applications can work from containers. See also Xwayland -help for more parameters, like -geometry.

Troubleshooting

First things to do when facing problems is to check the containers log, incus's log and system log.

user $incus start <instance_name> --debug
user $incus info <instance_name> --show-log

Attach immediately to systart:

user $incus start <instance_name> ; incus console --show-log <instance_name>

By default incus's logs can be found from /var/log/incus/ - this can also be modified from conf.d and service files.

Upstream discussion forum is a great resource for finding answers to many different kind of issues.


Adding a disk device with incus-user fails to "Disk source path not allowed"

With incus-user by default the disk access is restricted. Check if this is the cause:

user $incus project get user-1000 restricted.devices.disk.paths

And if yes, unset or edit it:

user $incus project unset user-1000 restricted.devices.disk.paths
user $incus project set user-1000 restricted.devices.disk.paths "/home/larry,/var/cache/distfiles,/tmp/.X11-unix,/run/user/1000"

Containers or virtual machines (OpenRC) not shutting down properly

If the container freezes during the stop command with

user $incus stop my-container

while using OpenRC, try to turn it off directly with poweroff:

user $incus exec my-container -- poweroff

If that works, edit the /etc/inittab file in the container adding following part:

FILE /etc/inittab
pf:12345:powerwait:/sbin/halt

Shutdown the container with poweroff, and next time it is booted, the container should work like normal and incus stop should work as expected. Be careful when doing world updates to not blindly merge changes to /etc/inittab.

Fresh containers fail to start with a cryptic "newuidmap failed to write mapping" message

Important
This should be fixed in incus >=0.5, as it got completely new logic in handling the subuid/subgid ranges. When using incus >=0.5 completely clean the subuid/subgid files first, only leaving root:1000000:1000000000 in there! Then work adding whatever is needed. incus-user will automatically idmap your user's ID's to containers.

This is an unfortunate and annoying bug when using incus-user. The easiest and fastest way to "fix" it is to issue incus profile unset default raw.idmap and re-launching the container with a new name, since idmaps are issued when the container is spawned. Make sure to fix the profile you're using, or make sure the new container will inherit the default profile.

If raw.idmaps are desired, another way is to carefully observe the numerical idmaps in the error message, and allow them manually in /etc/lxc/default, /etc/subuid and /etc/subgid files. For example, these could look like:

FILE /etc/lxc/default
lxc.idmap = u 0 100000 1000
lxc.idmap = g 0 100000 1000
lxc.idmap = u 1000 1000 1
lxc.idmap = g 1000 1000 1
lxc.idmap = u 1001 101001 0
lxc.idmap = g 1001 101001 0
lxc.idmap = u 1001 1001 1
lxc.idmap = g 1001 1001 1
lxc.idmap = u 1002 101002 0
lxc.idmap = g 1002 101002 0
lxc.idmap = u 1002 1002 1
lxc.idmap = g 1002 1002 1
lxc.idmap = u 1003 101003 0
lxc.idmap = g 1003 101003 0
lxc.idmap = u 1003 1003 1
lxc.idmap = g 1003 1003 1
FILE /etc/subuid
root:1000:1
root:1001:1
root:1002:1
root:1003:1
root:100000:65536
incus:100000:65536
FILE /etc/subgid
root:1000:1
root:1001:1
root:1002:1
root:1003:1
root:100000:65536
incus:100000:65536
Important
After editing these files, the incus and incus-user services must be restarted!

Various dnsmasq related issues

Can't create new network bridge incusbr0

Most likely wrongly configured /etc/dnsmasq.conf - check the file's configuration, or create the network bridge manually:

user $incus network create incusbr0 ipv4.address=192.168.100.1/24 ipv6.address=none ipv4.nat=yes ipv4.dhcp=yes ipv4.dhcp.ranges=192.168.100.1-192.168.100.100,infinite ipv4.dhcp.gateway=192.168.100.1

incus-user

When opting to use incus-user, if the user can't use incus command it may be related to dnsmasq permissions. Add the user to dnsmasq group:

root #usermod --append --groups dnsmasq larry

Relog/Reboot, just make sure the user is in the group!

user $groups
... incus dnsmasq ...

IPv6

When primarily using ipv6, make sure net-dns/dnsmasq is built with the +ipv6 use flag.

Launching containers fails with "dnsmasq: bad command line options: bad dhcp-range"

Most likely wrongly configured /etc/dnsmasq.conf - check the file's configuration.

FILE /etc/dnsmasq.conf
bind-interfaces
except-interface=incusbr0
dhcp-range=192.168.100.1,192.168.100.100,infinite

See also