Tag Archives: virt-tools

New(ish) in libguestfs 1.27.23 — add firstboot batch files to Windows guests

You’ve been able to do this for a while by hand but now virt-sysprep & virt-customize ≥ 1.27.23 let you easily install firstboot scripts into Windows guests:

$ cat /tmp/test.bat
echo Hello I am a batch file
$ virt-customize -a win7.qcow2 --firstboot /tmp/test.bat

Next time the guest boots, check the log file in C:\Program Files\Red Hat\Firstboot\log.txt

This works well for me in Windows 7 guests. It ought to work in other Windows guests too. So far the only other Windows flavour I tested was W2K3 where the service crashed for some unfathomable reason (I’m not very patient with debugging Windows problems).

So let us know how it goes and we’ll try to fix the bugs as we go along.

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Tip: Use gdbserver to debug qemu running under libguestfs

If qemu crashes or fails when run under libguestfs, it can be a bit hard to debug things. However a small qemu wrapper and gdbserver can help.

Create a file called qemu-wrapper chmod +x and containing:

#!/bin/bash -

if ! echo "$@" | grep -sqE -- '-help|-version|-device \?' ; then
  gdbserver="gdbserver :1234"

exec $gdbserver /usr/bin/qemu-system-x86_64 "$@"

Set your environment variables so libguestfs will use the qemu wrapper instead of running qemu directly:

$ export LIBGUESTFS_BACKEND=direct
$ export LIBGUESTFS_HV=/path/to/qemu-wrapper

Now we run guestfish or another virt tool as normal:

$ guestfish -a /dev/null -v -x run

When qemu starts up, gdbserver will run and halt the process, printing:

Listening on port 1234

At this point you can connect gdb:

$ gdb
(gdb) file /usr/bin/qemu-system-x86_64
(gdb) target remote tcp::1234
set breakpoints etc here
(gdb) cont

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CentOS 7

CentOS 7 is out.

Although there are no cloud images available right now, I have put up a virt-builder image, so you can install CentOS 7 right now just by doing:

$ virt-builder centos-7.0

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Super-nested KVM

Regular readers of this blog will of course be familiar with the joys of virtualization. One of those joys is nested virtualization — running a virtual machine in a virtual machine. Nested KVM is a thing too — that is, emulating the virtualization extensions in the CPU so that the second level guest gets at least some of the acceleration benefits that a normal first level guest would get.

My question is: How deeply can you nest KVM?

This is not so easy to test at the moment, so I’ve created a small project / disk image which when booted on KVM will launch a nested guest, which launches a nested guest, and so on until (usually) the host crashes, or you run out of memory, or your patience is exhausted by the poor performance of nested KVM.

The answer, by the way, is just 3 levels [on AMD hardware], which is rather disappointing. Hopefully this will encourage the developers to take a closer look at the bugs in nested virt.

Git repo: http://git.annexia.org/?p=supernested.git;a=summary
Binary images: http://oirase.annexia.org/supernested/

How does this work?

Building a simple appliance is easy. I’m using supermin to do that.

The problem is how does the appliance run another appliance? How do you put the same appliance inside the appliance? Obviously that’s impossible (right?)

The way it works is inside the Lx hypervisor it runs the L(x+1) qemu on /dev/sda, with a protective overlay stored in memory so we don’t disrupt the Lx hypervisor. Since /dev/sda literally is the appliance disk image, this all kinda works.


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nbdkit now supports cURL — HTTP, FTP, and SSH connections

nbdkit is a liberally licensed NBD (Network Block Device) server designed to let you connect all sorts of crazy disk images sources (like Amazon, Glance, VMware VDDK) to the universal network protocol for sharing disk images: NBD.

New in nbdkit 1.1.8: cURL support. This lets you turn any HTTP, FTP, TFTP or SSH server that hosts a disk image into an NBD server.

For example:

$ nbdkit -r curl url=http://onuma/scratch/boot.iso

and then you can read the disk image using guestfish, qemu or any other nbd client:

$ guestfish --ro -a nbd://localhost -i

Welcome to guestfish, the guest filesystem shell for
editing virtual machine filesystems and disk images.

Type: 'help' for help on commands
      'man' to read the manual
      'quit' to quit the shell

/dev/sda mounted on /

><fs> _

If you are using a normal SSH server like OpenSSH which supports the SSH File Transfer Protocol (aka SFTP), then you can use SFTP to access images:

$ nbdkit -r curl url=sftp://rjones@localhost/~/fedora-20.img

I’m hoping to enable write support in a future version.

It doesn’t work at the moment because I haven’t worked out how to switch between read (GET) and write (POST) requests in a single cURL handle. Perhaps I need to use two handles? The documentation is confusing.


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virt-log now supports the Windows Event Log

New virt tool virt-log now supports the Windows Event Log. If you have a recent Windows guest you can display the System event log by doing:

$ virt-log -d Win8 | less

What you will see is a very long XML file.

This requires an Evtx parser. I have now chosen this library for Fedora (it needs a reviewer, as you can see). The code is sensible and maintained.

It also only works for Windows ≥ Vista, because Microsoft completely rewrote the way that log files are stored, from one strange binary format to another strange binary format [so a little different from the systemd journal …].

As usual, patches to virt-log to support other guest operating systems are welcome.

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New in libguestfs: virt-log

In libguestfs ≥ 1.27.17, there’s a new tool called virt-log for displaying the log files from a disk image or virtual machine:

$ virt-log -a disk.img | less

Previously you could write:

$ virt-cat -a disk.img /var/log/messages

That worked for some Linux guests, but several things happened:

Virt-log is designed to do the right thing automatically (although at the moment Windows support is not finished). In particular it will automatically decode and display the systemd journal, and it knows the different locations that some Linux distros store their plain text log files.


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