How to Get Started Using Virtual Machine Manager in Linux

Virtual Machine Manager Featured

Virtual Machine Manager is one of the best hypervisors available for the Linux desktop. It’s a well-rounded, well-performing piece of software QEMU/KVM virtualization to take virtualization on your Linux desktop to the next level.

How to Install Virtual Machine Manager

To install Virtual Machine Manager, simply enter the following command in the terminal.

# For Debian/Ubuntu
sudo apt install virt-manager
# For Fedora/RHEL/CentOS
sudo dnf install virt-manager

From there, you can open your Applications menu and either look for or search for Virtual Machine Manager. 

Launching virtual media manager

You can also run the following command to open the application.


Creating a Virtual Machine

The application will open, and you’ll be greeted with a screen that looks like the following image. 

Vmm Opening App

The next thing you’ll want to do is get a hold of the .iso file or files that you want to use to create your virtual machines. You can use any Linux distro that you would like, Windows virtual machines, or you can follow online tutorials to get a macOS virtual machine running. 

Remember where you’re storing the .iso files. I have a folder called ISO-files in my Documents folder, but you can do whatever makes sense to you. This tutorial will take you through creating a CentOS 8 Virtual Machine.

The first thing to do is click the icon in the upper-right corner. This is the icon to create a new VM.

You’ll see a message confirming where you’d like to your VM install to initiate. Leave it on “Local install media (ISO image or CDROM)” and click “Forward.”

On the next screen, click, “Browse … ”. This will bring you to a screen that has only one default path, at “/var/lib/libvirt/images.” You’ll add another one by clicking the little plus at the bottom-left corner. 

Create new virtual machine

Click the “+”. Name the folder whatever you would like. This is your ISO-files folder, so name it something that’ll help you remember that. Click “Browse” again. This will bring you to a screen where you can navigate to your ISO-files folder and choose that as a storage path. Navigate to wherever you’re storing your .iso files and click “Open” in the top-right corner. Then click “Finish.” 

Vmm Browse Iso Files Path

Now your new storage path should appear in the sidebar. Click it, select the .iso file you want to use, and click, “Choose volume.” Unless you have an .iso file from a lesser-known distro, Virtual Machine Manager will automatically pick up which Operating System you have. In the case of this tutorial, it did. Click “Forward.”

Vmm Selecting Iso
Vmm Os Autodiscover

Now you can set your virtual memory and processors. Virtual Machine Manager will configure a default amount based on the OS it detected in the previous screen. You can change this to whatever you would like, but keep in mind that if you go below the default amount, things may not run well. Choose your memory amounts and click “Forward.”

Vmm Mem Vcpus

The next screen is for choosing the storage path. You can keep the default, which is at “/var/lib/libvirt/images,” or you can create another path using the same steps as above. You can also choose to disable storage for the virtual machine, which can come in handy if you’re using a system like Kali Linux or TAILS. Those don’t generally need storage, so there’s no point in creating any and using up disk space. Set your storage amount and click “Forward.” 

Vmm Storage

Now you can set the name of your virtual machine and also change any other configurations you’d like by checking the “Customize configuration before install” checkbox. If you’d like to add other storage devices, other network hardware, or change the way you can remotely access the virtual machine, that’s the box to check to do it. You can also change those settings later, but it’s more convenient to do it before the install. 

You can also specify your network connection information. You can leave it at the default of “NAT” or change it to something else. Something to note: even using NAT, you can still connect to these virtual machines over the network using the “virbr0 network adapter” that was created when you installed Virtual Machine Manager. You can run virtual servers headlessly and connect them remotely at that IP address range using SSH or other means. 

Vmm Final Screen With Net Selection

Click “Finish” to start your install.

When prompted with the “Virtual Network is not active” message, click “Yes” to start the network.

Virtual Network Not Active

Note: in the future when you need to run the virtual machine, you will need to start the virtual network first. You can do it with the command:

sudo virsh net-start default

You’ll be presented with a screen that shows the connection to the virtual machine as well as the containment of other settings. You can customize the virtual hardware, take snapshots of your virtual machine, send shutdown and reboot signals, and send key combinations like Ctrl + Alt + Delete and Ctrl + Alt + F2 to switch to TTY on a Linux guest.

Virtual Machine Manager Starting

You are now up and running. I have had great success with running a wide variety of guest OSes in Virtual Machine Manager, so I encourage you to check out some of the best Linux distros using your new hypervisor. There are also some more advanced features of Virtual Machine Manager that will be covered in a later article.

John Perkins
John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

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