Getting started with KVM

This is the first in my series of KVM tutorials. this guide will walk you through the installation and configuration of KVM.

Getting the system ready for KVM Virtualization

For those of you that have played with Xen you would have noticed that is normally necessary to have the correct version of the kernel to run it, with KVM this is not the case. With todays versions of Linux they will more than likely be ready to support KVM from within their kernels, all that is left for you to do is to install the KVM kernel module.
With a standard installation the modules and tools are not installed by default that is unless you specifically select them, for example within the RHEL 6 installation process for instance.
To install KVM from the command prompt, execute the following command in a terminal window with root privileges:

yum install kvm virt-manager libvirt

If the installation fails just check that you have not attempted to install KVM on a 32-bit system, or a 64-bit system running a 32-bit version of RHEL 6:

Error: libvirt conflicts with kvm

Once the installation of KVM is complete it is recommended to reboot the system once you have closed any running applications.
Once the system has restarted you can check that everything is OK with the installation by making sure that two specific running modules have been loaded into the kernel. This can be done by running the following command:

su -
lsmod | grep kvm

The above command should look similar to the following:

lsmod | grep kvm
kvm_intel              45578  0
kvm                   291875  1 kvm_intel

The installation should have configured the libvirtd daemon to run in the background. Using a terminal window with super user privileges, run the following command to check that libvirtd is running:

/sbin/service libvirtd status
libvirtd (pid  xxxx) is running...

If the process is not running, it can be started as follows:

/sbin/service libvirtd start

You’re now ready to launch the Virtual Machine Manager “virt-manager” by selecting Applications > System Tools > Virtual Machine Manager. If the QEMU entry is not listed, select the File -> Add Connection menu option and select the QEMU/KVM hypervisor before clicking on the Connect button.
If all went OK then you should now be ready to create virtual machines into which guest operating systems may be installed.
In the next post we shall look at virtual machine creation and general configuration for KVM such as Disks, Networks and system management.

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