Creating and using HVM (fully virtualized) domains
What are HVM domains?
HVM domains (Hardware VM), in contrast to PV domains (Paravirtualized domains), allow one to create domains based on any OS for which one has an installation ISO. For example, this allows one to have Windows-based VMs in Qubes.
Interested readers might want to check this article to learn why it took so long for Qubes OS to support HVM domains (Qubes 1 only supported Linux based PV domains). As of Qubes 4, every VM is HVM by default (see here).
Creating an HVM domain
First, let’s create a new HVM domain. Use the
--hvm switch to
qvm-create, or choose HVM type in the Qubes Manager VM creation dialog box:
qvm-create win7 --hvm --label green
The name of the domain (“win7”) as well as its label (“green”) are just exemplary of course.
Note: It is unnecessary for Qubes 4 users to pass in the
--hvm switch. To create a StandaloneVM in Qubes 4, use the –class option, as VMs are template-based by default:
qvm-create win7 --class StandaloneVM --label green
If you receive an error like this one, then you must first enable VT-x in your BIOS:
libvirt.libvirtError: invalid argument: could not find capabilities for arch=x86_64
Now we need to install an OS inside this VM. This can be done by attaching an installation ISO to and starting the VM (this can currently only be done from command line, but in the future we will surely add an option to do this also from the manager):
qvm-start win7 --cdrom=/usr/local/iso/win7_en.iso
The above command assumes the installation ISO was transferred to Dom0 (copied using
dd command from an installation CDROM for example). If one wishes to use the actual physical media without copying it first to a file, then one can just pass
/dev/cdrom as an argument to
qvm-start win7 --cdrom=/dev/cdrom
Next, the VM will start booting from the attached CDROM device (which in the example above just happens to be a Windows 7 installation disk). Depending on the OS being installed in the VM, one might be required to start the VM several times (as is the case with Windows 7 installations), because whenever the installer wants to “reboot the system” it actually shutdowns the VM and Qubes won’t automatically start it. Several invocations of qvm-start command (as shown above) might be needed.
Note: If your Windows installation gets stuck at the glowing Windows logo, you might want to read Issue 2488 for a solution.
Using Installation ISOs located in other VMs
Sometimes one wants to download the installation ISO from the Web and use it for HVM creation. For security reasons, networking is disabled for Qubes Dom0, which makes it impossible to download an ISO within Dom0. Qubes also does not provide any easy to use mechanisms for copying files between AppVMs and Dom0 and generally tries to discourage such actions. Due to these factors it would be inconvenient to require that the installation ISO for an HVM domain be always located in Dom0. The good news, however, is that this is indeed not required. One can use the following syntax when specifying the location of an installation ISO (such as the Windows 7 installation ISO):
Assuming that an installation ISO named
ubuntu-12.10-desktop-i386.iso has been downloaded in
work-web AppVM and is located within the
/home/user/Downloads directory within this AppVM, one can immediately create a new HVM using this ISO as an installation media with the following command issued in Dom0:
qvm-create --hvm ubuntu --label red qvm-start ubuntu --cdrom=work-web:/home/user/Downloads/ubuntu-12.10-desktop-i386.iso
The AppVM where the ISO is kept must be running for this to work as this VM is now serving the ISO and acting as a disk backend.
Converting VirtualBox VM to HVM
Microsoft provides free 90 day evaluation VirtualBox VMs for browser testing.
About 60 GB of disk space is required for conversion, use external harddrive if needed. Final root.img size is 40 GB.
In Debian AppVM, install qemu-utils and unzip:
sudo apt install qemu-utils unzip
Unzip VirtualBox zip file:
Extract OVA tar archive:
tar -xvf *.ova
Convert vmdk to raw:
qemu-img convert -O raw *.vmdk win10.raw
Create new HVM in Dom0, with amount of RAM in MB you wish:
qvm-create --hvm win10 --label red --mem=4096
Copy file to Dom0:
qvm-run --pass-io untrusted 'cat "/media/user/externalhd/win10.raw"' > /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win10/root.img
Start win10 VM:
Optional ways to get more information
Filetype of OVA file:
List files of OVA tar archive:
tar -tf *.ova
List filetypes supported by qemu-img:
qemu-img -h | tail -n1
Setting up networking for HVM domains
Just like standard paravirtualized AppVMs, the HVM domains get fixed IP addresses centrally assigned by Qubes. Normally Qubes agent scripts running within each AppVM are responsible for setting up networking within the VM according the configuration created by Qubes. Such centrally managed networking infrastructure allows for advanced networking configuration.
A generic HVM domain such as a standard Windows or Ubuntu installation, however, has no Qubes agent scripts running inside it initially and thus requires manual networking configuration so that it match the values assigned by Qubes for this domain.
Even though we do have a small DHCP server that runs inside HVM untrusted stub domain to make the manual network configuration not necessary for many VMs, this won’t work for most modern Linux distributions which contain Xen networking PV drivers (but not Qubes tools) built in which bypass the stub-domain networking (their net frontends connect directly to the net backend in the netvm). In this instance our DHCP server is not useful.
In order to manually configure networking in a VM, one should first find out the IP/netmask/gateway assigned to the particular VM by Qubes. This can be seen e.g. in the Qubes Manager in the VM’s properties:
Alternatively, one can use
qvm-ls -n command to obtain the same information. One should configure the networking within the HVM according to those settings (IP/netmask/gateway). One should set DNS addresses to the same IP as gateway.
Only IPv4 networking is currently supported in Qubes.
Note: If one plans on installing Qubes Tools for Windows guests (see below) it is ‘not’ necessary to configure networking manually as described in this section, because the tools will take care of setting the networking automatically for such Windows domains.
Using Template-based HVM domains
Please see our dedicated page on installing and using Windows-based AppVMs.
Cloning HVM domains
Just like normal AppVMs, the HVM domains can also be cloned either using a command-line
qvm-clone command or via manager’s ‘Clone VM’ option in the right-click menu.
The cloned VM will get identical root and private image and will essentially be an identical of the original VM except that it will get a different MAC address for the networking interface:
[joanna@dom0 ~]$ qvm-prefs win7 name : win7 label : green type : HVM netvm : firewallvm updateable? : True installed by RPM? : False include in backups: False dir : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7 config : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7/win7.conf pcidevs :  root img : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7/root.img private img : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7/private.img vcpus : 4 memory : 512 maxmem : 512 MAC : 00:16:3E:5E:6C:05 (auto) debug : off default user : user qrexec_installed : False qrexec timeout : 60 drive : None timezone : localtime [joanna@dom0 ~]$ qvm-clone win7 win7-copy /.../ [joanna@dom0 ~]$ qvm-prefs win7-copy name : win7-copy label : green type : HVM netvm : firewallvm updateable? : True installed by RPM? : False include in backups: False dir : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy config : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy/win7-copy.conf pcidevs :  root img : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy/root.img private img : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy/private.img vcpus : 4 memory : 512 maxmem : 512 MAC : 00:16:3E:5E:6C:01 (auto) debug : off default user : user qrexec_installed : False qrexec timeout : 60 drive : None timezone : localtime
Note how the MAC addresses differ between those two otherwise identical VMs. The IP addresses assigned by Qubes will also be different of course to allow networking to function properly:
[joanna@dom0 ~]$ qvm-ls -n /.../ win7-copy | | Halted | Yes | | *firewallvm | green | 10.137.2.3 | n/a | 10.137.2.1 | win7 | | Halted | Yes | | *firewallvm | green | 10.137.2.7 | n/a | 10.137.2.1 | /.../
If for any reason one would like to make sure that the two VMs have the same MAC address, one can use qvm-prefs to set a fixed MAC address for the VM:
[joanna@dom0 ~]$ qvm-prefs win7-copy -s mac 00:16:3E:5E:6C:05 [joanna@dom0 ~]$ qvm-prefs win7-copy name : win7-copy label : green type : HVM netvm : firewallvm updateable? : True installed by RPM? : False include in backups: False dir : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy config : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy/win7-copy.conf pcidevs :  root img : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy/root.img private img : /var/lib/qubes/appvms/win7-copy/private.img vcpus : 4 memory : 512 maxmem : 512 MAC : 00:16:3E:5E:6C:05 debug : off default user : user qrexec_installed : False qrexec timeout : 60 drive : None timezone : localtime
Installing Qubes support tools in Windows 7 VMs
Windows specific steps are described on separate page.
Assigning PCI devices to HVM domains
HVM domains (including Windows VMs) can be assigned PCI devices just like normal AppVMs. E.g. one can assign one of the USB controllers to the Windows VM and should be able to use various devices that require Windows software, such as phones, electronic devices that are configured via FTDI, etc.
One problem at the moment however, is that after the whole system gets suspended into S3 sleep and subsequently resumed, some attached devices may stop working and should be restarted within the VM. This can be achieved under a Windows HVM by opening the Device Manager, selecting the actual device (such as a USB controller), ‘Disabling’ the device, and then ‘Enabling’ the device again. This is illustrated on the screenshot below:
Other documents related to HVM: