Love your virtual machines. Or low key vm manager, or
lovm is a minimalist, idempotent command-line tool for
managing local virtual machines (i.e. VMs you run on your computer).
I use regularly use VMs during development to test deployment scripts and configuration, and to install things I don't want to commingle with my desktop environment.
I used to use Vagrant but I found that I spent enormous amounts of time building and maintaining Vagrant boxes; ultimately, not the best use of my time.
I want to satisfy these minimum requirements for day-to-day use:
- Clone a VM (installing the OS is outside the scope of
lovm, we'll just clone one that works already)
- Share a folder with the VM
- Start the VM
- Discover the VM's IP address
- SSH to the VM
- Stop the VM
- Delete the VM when I'm done using it, or when I need to wipe out my changes
- Does not get in the way
go get github.com/cbednarski/lovm
lovm clone <source> Clone a VM. Start here! lovm start Start the VM lovm stop Stop the VM lovm restart Stop and then start the VM lovm ssh Open an SSH session to the VM lovm ip Write the VM's IP address to stdout lovm mount <host path> <guest path> Mount a host folder into the VM lovm delete Delete the VM; get your space back
How do I ssh to my box?
lovm ssh calls
ssh with the IP address returned by
lovm ip, but will pass
through any additional flags directly to the underlying
ssh command. The SSH
prompt is interactive, so you can also type in your password in response to a
prompt. For example:
lovm ssh -l root -i ~/.ssh/my_key.pem
Since you can't use
user@ip syntax to change the ssh login, use
Do I have to use VMware Workstation Pro or Fusion Pro?
lovm uses linked clones, which use copy-on-write to make cloning
extremely fast. The non-Pro versions of these products do not (at time of
writing) support linked clones. You may also use VirtualBox, which is free.
How do I create my own VM?
There are many options. The easiest way is to use the GUI for VMware or VirtualBox. VMware has an "easy install" option that will automatically install popular operating systems for you. You can use a VM image created using Packer or provided by a third party. You can even use a Vagrant Box, though you will need to unpack it first.
In order to clone the VM, the source VM must be in a powered-off state (not suspended), or must have a powered-off snaphot. Since the original VM is non- destructively cloned each time you run it, you only need to create it once.
How do I clone a snapshot?
You can clone a snapshot by adding
: and the snapshot name to the clone
source. For example:
lovm clone /path/to/vm:snapshot-name
What is the
Linked clones in VirtualBox and VMware require a snapshot so
lovm-clone the first time it clones a VM. If you make changes to
the original VM afterward, be sure to delete this snapshot so the next clone
operation will create a new snapshot with the latest change. You can also create
this snapshot manually.
Having more than one snapshot named
lovm-clone on a single VM will result in
What about all the other virtualization tools, like bhyve and kvm?
I don't use those. I only use VMware, and most people I know only use VirtualBox.
What about Windows?
lovm doesn't currently run on Windows, though it can run Windows VMs on Linux.
I don't currently develop on Windows, but I know a lot of people do, so I may
add Windows host support later.
What about managing snapshots, multiple VMs, or [feature X], or [platform Y]?
There are a lot of features and platforms I don't use and don't have time to support. Feel free to clone or fork the project for your own needs. :)
Comparisons to Other Tools
Vagrant has many more features like Vagrantfiles (ruby), packaging (Vagrant Boxes), upload / download of boxes, provisioning, plugins, triggers, remote VM access (sharing), management of multiple machines, and more. Vagrant has numerous workflows for working with teams, mass-distribution of VMs, and support for custom behavior. Vagrant supports VMware through a paid plugin.
lovm only supports SSH and basic VM controls. However, it works with VMs that
you already have and does not require extra packaging. VMware is supported out
of the box.
Docker Desktop runs a Linux VM and installs some host-native client tools (like the Docker CLI) to make docker workflows easy. Docker desktop does not support other guest operating systems and does not support power management workflows (instead it runs the VM like an application).
lovm manages VMs and does not have any docker-specific features.
Just using VMware or VirtualBox
lovm wraps the CLI tools included with VMware and VirtualBox.
on the native CLI's ergonomics, speeds things up by using linked clones, and
also quickly identifies the IP address when you start a VM.
I built this for my own use, and I only intend to maintain this program so I can use it. Please do feel free to open bugs or PRs or ask questions, but don't feel bad if I don't respond or don't merge your PR. It's not you. It's me! :)
This is not a roadmap.