QEMU/Linux guest

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This article describes the setup of a Gentoo Linux guest using QEMU.



To create a disk image for the virtual machine, run:

user $qemu-img create -f qcow2 Gentoo-VM.img 15G

Download a minimal Gentoo LiveCD from here.

Since QEMU requires a lot of options, it would be a good idea to put them into a shell script, e.g.:

FILE start_Gentoo_VM.sh
exec qemu-system-x86_64 -enable-kvm \
        -cpu host \
        -drive file=Gentoo-VM.img,if=virtio \
        -netdev user,id=vmnic,hostname=Gentoo-VM \
        -device virtio-net,netdev=vmnic \
        -device virtio-rng-pci \
        -m 512M \
        -smp 2 \
        -monitor stdio \
        -name "Gentoo VM" \

Change the path to your disk image Gentoo-VM.img in the script. You can additional options when calling the script. To boot the disk image, run:

user $./start_Gentoo_VM.sh -boot d -cdrom install-amd64-minimal-20120621.iso

Install the guest per the Gentoo Handbook. See the guest section for optimum support. After the installation start the script without the additional options.


Hard drive

The VirtIO hard drive is mapped to /dev/vda. Where the handbook refers to /dev/sdaX, always use /dev/vdaX when configuring the guest.


If you use genkernel do not build the VirtIO drivers as modules, compile them into the kernel.

Processor type and features  --->
    [*] Linux guest support --->
        [*] Enable Paravirtualization code
        [*] KVM Guest support (including kvmclock)
Device Drivers  --->
    [*] Virtio drivers  --->
        <*> PCI driver for virtio devices
    [*] Block devices  --->
        <*> Virtio block driver
    SCSI device support  --->
        [*] SCSI low-level drivers  --->
            [*] virtio-scsi support
    [*] Network device support  --->
        [*] Network core driver support
            <*> Virtio network driver
    Graphics support  --->
        <*> Virtio GPU driver
    Character devices ---> 
       <*>   Hardware Random Number Generator Core support --->
           <*>   VirtIO Random Number Generator support

As an alternative, use these commands after emerging the kernel sources:

(chroot) livecd / #cd /usr/src/linux
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #make defconfig
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #make kvmconfig


For a minimal grub BIOS install:

(chroot) livecd / #echo 'GRUB_PLATFORMS="pc"' >> /etc/portage/make.conf
(chroot) livecd / #echo 'sys-boot/grub -fonts -nls -themes' > /etc/portage/package.use/grub
(chroot) livecd / #emerge --ask sys-boot/grub:2

Install grub on the guest disk:

(chroot) livecd / #grub-install /dev/vda
Installing for i386-pc platform.
Installation finished. No error reported.

Configure grub for the kernel build earlier:

(chroot) livecd / #grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Generating grub.cfg ...
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.9.16-gentoo


Optional post install guest IPv6 setup

For IPv6 networking see the IPv6 subarticle.

Run images as service

To conveniently configure, start and stop a Linux (or any other) guest, check out this great init script.

Mount guest image

To access the guest disk from the host (and e.g. chroot into the guest), use a "Network Block Device":

root # modprobe nbd max_part=16
root # qemu-nbd -c /dev/nbd0 Gentoo-VM.img
root # mount /dev/nbd0p4 /mnt/gentoo

Make any changes required and clean up:

root # umount /mnt/gentoo
root # qemu-nbd -d /dev/nbd0


Boot hangs at syslog-ng

If the guest boots slow, or if the boot hangs on * Checking your configfile (/etc/syslog-ng/syslog-ng.conf) or there are syslog messages like [ 1.264763] random: dbus-deamon: uninitialized urandom read (12 bytes read) or [ 12.667558] random: crng init done (12 seconds after booting), this is likely due to the lack of entropy. A way to fix this is to enable the "VirtIO Random Number Generator support" (HW_RANDOM_VIRTIO=y) in the guest kernel and boot with the QEMU virtio-rng-pci device.

Another way to solve this is to enable "Trust the CPU manufacturer to initialize Linux's CRNG" (RANDOM_TRUST_CPU=y) in the guest kernel. However, there are security concerns with this approach.