KVM Virtual Machine hypervisor installed into your Mint 17.1 64-bit desktop

  9 years ago

Linux KVM QEMU SPICE on LInux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon really rocks...

It is quite easy to add the QEMU/KVM virtualization hypervisor to your Mint desktop. The hypervisor provides a virtualized system that you can build virtual machines in. You can perform virtualized networking and run an entire array of virtual machines within the hypervisor. In addition, if you want a virtual desktop experience that provides full acclerated 2D video at the client, then add SPICE.

You will need a multicore processor desktop or server system that includes hardware virtualization extensions (AMD or Intel). Most modern 64 bit processors include these extensions. It is possible that they may have to be enabled in the host BIOS settings as some systems have virtualization support disabled by default.

Management of the KVM hypervisor can be accomplished through a graphical managment program called virt-manager. Virt-manager is a lot like a typical virtual machine manager and supports remote connections to other hypervisors for management of those resources. In this case it can be used to manage VM and virtual network at the local host. Virt-manager also provide a very flexible virtual network management and storage facility, providing the ability to creat and manage virtual networks and specialized routing infrastructures within the hypervisor.

I started out with a Mint 17.1 Cinnamon 64 bit system, fully updated with the latest components. To this system we perform the following:

Virtualization with virt-manager:
# apt-get install qemu-system
# apt-get install qemu-utils
# apt-get install libvirt-bin
# apt-get install virt-manager

Installing SPICE for KVM remote and local access to VMs
# apt-get install python-spice-client-gtk
# apt-get install virt-viewer

Any users that want to manage VMs will need to be added to the "libvirtd" group.

Once these components and their related dependencies are installed, shut-down and restart your system. Bring the system back up and login to your desktop. Now you can run virt-manager. The virt-manager interface appears to be very simple at first glance, but dig a little deeper into it and you can see some very advanced features for virtual maching management and virtualized network management.

Once you create your first VM you will be hooked. Virtualization totally rocks! You can't beat Linux virtualization with KVM.

Virtual machines, by default will use VNC for viewing them. You can also use Spice for the display component of the VM.

VDI Get Spicy...

To create a high performance virtual desktop interface (VDI), use SPICE as the display device in your VM detail "Display" settings instead of VNC. Spice can be configured to serve desktops to remote clients. Spice efficiently provides an accelerated video interface to the view client. It can be so fast that you don't realize that you are running in a remote VM. There are Spice clients for all major operating systems. On windows systems the Spice client is called virt-viewer. On Linux systems the view client is called remote-viewer. Other spice clients are available as well.

To change your VM from default VNC to Spice; Go into the details, remove the Display device. Add a new Display device and specify Spice as the interface. Set it to listen on all public interfaces if you want to access it remotely. You can also set a password for access at this point. The port is normally assigned from a pool of values starting at 5900 automatically whenever the VM is started, but you can set it to a static value, such as 5999 using the virt-manager GUI when you are adding the Spice virtual display device.

There are other ways to manage KVM as well, such as with virsh, the virtualization management command line utility.

I have set up KVM/QEMU with Spice on many Linux systems, including high end Cisco UCS servers. I normally use it on servers in our enterprise environment.

Accessing the VM:

You can use always virt-manager to access the VM and interact with the guest, BUT for full capability VDI you should use "Remote Viewer" remote-viewer on Linux or Windows desktops. Remote viewer provides full screen auto resizing capability for the guest VM connection and full accelerated 2D video to the VM running at the hypervisor.

VM guest software agents and drivers:

Most Linux distributions can simply use the spice-vdagent utilities for copy-paste from remote and auto screen resize to the client.

Windows VM guests require guest-tools for accessing the VM using spice. This is called Windows guest tools: http://www.spice-space.org/download.html. Windows also requires the QXL video driver be installed into the guest which supports direct connection to the hypervisor Spice adapter.

I kid you not, this stuff really works and works well. I have been using it on systems for a couple of years now. It is very stable.

- updated 2014-07-13 for setup on Linux Mint 17 64-bit

- updated 2015-02-17 for setup on Linux Mint 17.1 64-bit

I have details, with graphics, detailed at my website here:


sanjoo 3 years ago

can you provide complete set of instructions for installing & using kvm for lmde 4 cinnamon ?

edwinb77 8 years ago

very nice tutorial and seems a good step of doing away with our hyper-v environment. Can you enlighten me on how you do the backup of the machines? Backup software with graphical interface preferable.

Kalyk 9 years ago

Thanks, good tutorial. Works flawlessly. And it installs much better then both VMware and VirtualBox.

zman58 9 years ago

If you want to setup KVM on a headless server, I recommend using CentOS 7. I have setup KVM virtualization on many servers. I have detailed instructions at my website here:


KVM also runs very well using Linux Mint. My son runs Windows CAD "Solid works" on his Linux Mint laptop using KVM/Qemu/Spice. It is the only time he uses Windows--had to for engineering school. It runs full screen and runs extremely fast in a VM--just like being installed on native hardware.

zman58 9 years ago

I will post update for Mint 17 shortly. I have set it up and it works extremely well. Very solid.

Make sure you have a processor that supports hardware virtualization extensions. KVM requires hardware supported virtualization extentions in the processor. So higher end AMD or Intel 64-bit processors are required. Core 2 duo or better. AMD Athlon 64 X2 or better.

zman58 9 years ago

Spice is similar to VMware View but much better. It connects directly to the machine instead of using only a desktop login as View does--requiring View Server.

When you attach using Spice you connect directly to the VM at the virtual machine level. You log directly into your VM using any account that that you have set up on the guest. When you restart your guest you can seen the full restart process, including the splash screen for the virtual bios. It is really like having a full separate machine you can use. In this regard it is far better than View. You can password protect access. If you use QXL you get full acclerated video at the client VDI. You can watch full screen video right through the client.

VinCenT_VeGa 10 years ago

Is it like vmware view?