|Developer(s)||The Linux Kernel community|
|Platform||ARM, PowerPC, ESA/390, IA-32, x86-64|
|License||GNU GPL or LGPL|
Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is a free and open-source virtualization module in the Linux kernel that allows the kernel to function as a hypervisor. It was merged into the mainline Linux kernel in version 2.6.20, which was released on February 5, 2007. KVM requires a processor with hardware virtualization extensions, such as Intel VT or AMD-V. KVM has also been ported to other operating systems such as FreeBSD and illumos in the form of loadable kernel modules.
KVM supports hardware-assisted virtualization for a wide variety of guest operating systems including BSD, Solaris, Windows, Haiku, ReactOS, Plan 9, AROS, macOS, and even other Linux systems. In addition, Android 2.2, GNU/Hurd (Debian K16), Minix 3.1.2a, Solaris 10 U3 and Darwin 8.0.1, together with other operating systems and some newer versions of these listed, are known to work with certain limitations.
Additionally, KVM provides paravirtualization support for Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Plan 9 and Windows guests using the VirtIO API. This includes a paravirtual Ethernet card, disk I/O controller, balloon driver, and a VGA graphics interface using SPICE or VMware drivers.
KVM is maintained by Paolo Bonzini.
KVM provides device abstraction but no processor emulation. It exposes the /dev/kvm interface, which a user mode host can then use to:
- Set up the guest VM's address space. The host must also supply a firmware image (usually a custom BIOS when emulating PCs) that the guest can use to bootstrap into its main OS.
- Feed the guest simulated I/O.
- Map the guest's video display back onto the system host.
Originally, a forked version of QEMU was provided to launch guests and deal with hardware emulation that isn't handled by the kernel. That support was eventually merged into the upstream project. There are now numerous Virtual Machine Monitors (VMMs) which can utilise the KVM interface including kvmtool, crosvm and Firecracker and numerous specialised VMMs build with frameworks such as rust-vmm.
KVM has had support for hot swappable vCPUs, dynamic memory management, and Live Migration since February 2007. It also reduces the impact that memory write-intensive workloads have on the migration process.
KVM provides the following emulated devices:
Graphical management tools
- Kimchi – web-based virtualization management tool for KVM
- Virtual Machine Manager – supports creating, editing, starting, and stopping KVM-based virtual machines, as well as live or cold drag-and-drop migration of VMs between hosts.
- Proxmox Virtual Environment – an open-source virtualization management package including KVM and LXC. It has a bare-metal installer, a web-based remote management GUI, a HA cluster stack, unified storage, flexible network, and optional commercial support.
- OpenQRM – management platform for managing heterogeneous data center infrastructures
- GNOME Boxes – Gnome interface for managing libvirt guests on Linux
- oVirt – open-source virtualization management tool for KVM built on top of libvirt
- "Linux kernel 2.6.20, Section 2.2. Virtualization support through KVM". kernelnewbies.org. 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- KVM FAQ: What do I need to use KVM?
- "FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report: Porting Linux KVM to FreeBSD".
- "KVM on illumos".
- "Gmane - Mail To News And Back Again". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
- Gmane Loom Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
- "KVM/ARM Open Source Project". Archived from the original on 2013-03-10. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
- "kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git: KVM: ia64: remove".
- "KVM wiki: Guest support status". Retrieved 2007-05-27.
- "Running Mac OS X as a QEMU/KVM Guest". Retrieved 2014-08-20.
- "status". Gnu.org. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
- "Guest Support Status - KVM". Linux-kvm.org. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
- "OpenBSD man page virtio(4)". Retrieved 2018-02-04.
- "virtio binary packages for FreeBSD". Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "NetBSD man page virtio(4)". Archived from the original on 2019-11-13. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "plan9front". Retrieved 2013-02-11.
- "An API for virtual I/O: virtio". LWN.net. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
- "SCSI target for KVM wiki". linux-iscsi.org. 2012-08-07. Archived from the original on 2020-06-05. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- Interview: Avi Kivity Archived 2007-04-26 at the Wayback Machine on KernelTrap
- "Red Hat Advances Virtualization Leadership with Qumranet, Inc. Acquisition". Red Hat. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
- "KVM 15 equipped with live migration | IT World Canada News". 7 March 2007.
- Libby Clark (7 April 2015). "Git Success Stories and Tips from KVM Maintainer Paolo Bonzini". Linux.com. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- Khoa Huynh; Stefan Hajnoczi (2010). "KVM/QEMU Storage Stack Performance Discussion" (PDF). IBM. Linux Plumbers Conference. Retrieved January 3, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "SeaBIOS". seabios.org. 2013-12-21. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "Hot Plugging Virtual CPUs with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager".
- "Faq - KVM".
- "KVM-15 release [LWN.net]".
- "Migration - KVM".
- "Daniel P. Berrangé » Blog Archive » Analysis of techniques for ensuring migration completion with KVM".
- "The Definitive KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) API Documentation — the Linux Kernel documentation".
- "Linux kernel licensing rules — The Linux Kernel documentation". www.kernel.org. Archived from the original on 7 March 2020. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
- Amit Shah (2016-11-02). "Ten years of KVM". lwn.net. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- Official website
- Best practices for the Kernel-based Virtual Machine, IBM, second edition, April 2012
- Virtio-blk Performance Improvement, KVM Forum 2012, November 8, 2012, by Asias He
- Wikibook QEMU & KVM
- crosvm - chrome OS virtual machine monitor
- Firecracker VMM for KVM