Tag Archives: virt-ifconfig

Tip: Code for getting DHCP address from a virtual machine disk image

Previously (1) and previously (2) I showed there are many different ways to get the IP address from a virtual machine.

The example below shows one way to use libguestfs and hivex from a C program (virt-dhcp-address) to get the DHCP address that a virtual machine has picked up.

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Tip: Find the IP address of a virtual machine

Update: see comments

Virtual machines are given a virtual network, but have to decide on their own IP address, which they would usually get from DHCP or by static assignment. This is analogous to the physical case: a physical machine is plugged into a network port, but has to choose its own IP address somehow.

The problem with this is how do you know what IP address the virtual machine has picked?

There are several methods, but by far the simplest is to look at the output of the arp command on the same network segment (usually, just running arp -an on the host will do). As long as the VM has sent anything over the network, it will have sent out its IP address in an ARP response, and the host will have picked that up and added it to the ARP table.

For example, the one virtual machine I am running now has broadcast its IP address to the host:

$ arp -an
? (192.168.0.**) at **:**:**:23:06:bb [ether] on eth0
? (192.168.0.**) at **:**:**:74:02:28 [ether] on eth0
? ( at 52:54:00:18:04:63 [ether] on virbr0
? (192.168.0.**) at **:**:**:7c:8b:7e [ether] on eth0

I already described this and it works well if you have one or a few virtual machines, but if you have many, how do you know which MAC address corresponds to the one you want?

libvirt knows the MAC address which was assigned to each virtual machine’s network card. It is in the libvirt XML for the domain, and you can get it from libvirt using the command virsh dumpxml.

If we put all this together, we can write a short script which queries libvirt for the MAC address, then looks that up in the ARP table. All you need to do is to write:

# virt-addr F14x64

Note: As it stands this would only work as root, but you can make it also work for non-root by setting this environment variable:

$ export LIBVIRT_DEFAULT_URI=qemu:///system
$ virt-addr F14x64
$ ssh $(virt-addr F14x64)
rjones@'s password: ***
Last login: Sat Oct 16 16:56:17 2010 from
[rjones@f14x64 ~]$ 

The script follows below.

#!/usr/bin/perl -w

use strict;
use XML::XPath;
use XML::XPath::XMLParser;
use Sys::Virt;

# Open libvirt connection and get the domain.
my $conn = Sys::Virt->new (readonly => 1);
my $dom = $conn->get_domain_by_name ($ARGV[0]);

# Get the libvirt XML for the domain.
my $xml = $dom->get_xml_description ();

# Parse out the MAC addresses using an XPath expression.
my $xp = XML::XPath->new (xml => $xml);
my $nodes = $xp->find ("//devices/interface[\@type='network']/mac/\@address");
my $node;
my @mac_addrs;
foreach $node ($nodes->get_nodelist) {
    push @mac_addrs, lc ($node->getData)

# Look up the MAC addresses in the output of 'arp -an'.
my @arp_lines = split /\n/, `arp -an`;
foreach (@arp_lines) {
    if (/\((.*?)\) at (.*?) /) {
        my $this_addr = lc $2;
        if (list_member ($this_addr, @mac_addrs)) {
            print "$1\n";

sub list_member
    local $_;
    my $item = shift;
    foreach (@_) {
        return 1 if $item eq $_;
    return 0;


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Quick tip: Find the IP address of a virtual machine

virt-ifconfig will eventually fix this “properly”, although it’s yet again back on the drawing board while people upstream talk about heavyweight “guest agents”.

But while we’re waiting for that to happen, here’s a very quick and easy way to find out what IP address your virtual machine just acquired:

$ /sbin/arp -an
? ( at 00:17:f2:d8:db:3f [ether] on eth0
? ( at 52:54:00:37:a8:f8 [ether] on virbr0

That’s right — just run /sbin/arp -an and look for the new IP address that’s appeared. If you want to be clever you can look up the MAC address from the output of “virsh dumpxml” and match it to the MAC addresses from ARP, but usually that’s overkill.


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Today I finished off a tool which everyone has been asking for, virt-ifconfig – list the IP addresses of your virtual machines:

# virt-ifconfig
Guest                Iface   Family  IP address
CentOS5x32           eth0    inet
CentOS5x32           eth0    inet6   fe80::5652:ff:fe3c:7611

You can grab some very experimental source code from this repository.

Next up will be: virt-ps, virt-uname, virt-route, virt-dmesg, and more …


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