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Getting Started

A quick start guide to get KubeVirt up and running inside our container based development cluster.


The KubeVirt build system runs completely inside docker. In order to build KubeVirt you need to have docker and rsync installed. You also need to have docker running, and have the permissions to access it.

Note: For running KubeVirt in the dockerized cluster, nested virtualization must be enabled - see here for instructions for Fedora. As an alternative software emulation can be allowed. Enabling nested virtualization should be preferred.

Dockerized environment

Runs master and nodes containers, when each one of them run virtual machine via QEMU. In additional it runs dnsmasq and docker registry containers.


The minimum compatible Kubernetes version is 1.10.0. Important features required for scheduling and memory are missing or incompatible with previous versions.

Compile and run it

To build all required artifacts and launch the dockerizied environment, clone the KubeVirt repository, cd into it, and:

# Build and deploy KubeVirt on Kubernetes 1.10.4 in our vms inside containers
export KUBEVIRT_PROVIDER=k8s-1.10.4 # this is also the default if no KUBEVIRT_PROVIDER is set
make cluster-up
make cluster-sync

This will create a virtual machine called node01 which acts as node and master. To create more nodes which will register themselves on master, you can use the KUBEVIRT_NUM_NODES environment variable. This would create a master and one node:

export KUBEVIRT_NUM_NODES=2 # schedulable master + one additional node
make cluster-up

You could also run some build steps individually:

# To build all binaries

# Or to build just one binary
make build WHAT=cmd/virt-controller

# To build all kubevirt containers
make docker

To destroy the created cluster, type

make cluster-down

Note: Whenever you type make cluster-down && make cluster-up, you will have a completely fresh cluster to play with.

Accessing the containerized nodes via ssh

The containerized nodes are named starting from node01, node02, and so forth. node01 is always the master of the cluster.

Every node can be accessed via its name:

cluster/ ssh node01

To execute a remote command, e.g ls, simply type

cluster/ ssh node01 -- ls -lh

Automatic Code Generation

Some of the code in our source tree is auto-generated (see git ls-files|grep '^pkg/.*generated.*go$'). On certain occasions (but not when building git-cloned code), you would need to regenerate it with

make generate

Typical cases where code regeneration should be triggered are:

  • When changing APIs, REST paths or their comments (gets reflected in the api documentation, clients, generated cloners...)
  • When changing mocked interfaces (the mock generator needs to update the generated mocks then)

We have a check in our CI system, so that you don't miss when make generate needs to be called.


After a successful build you can run the unit tests:

    make test

They do not need a running KubeVirt environment to succeed. To run the functional tests, make sure you have set up a dockerizied environment. Then run

    make cluster-sync # synchronize with your code, if necessary
    make functest # run the functional tests against the dockerized VMs

If you'd like to run specific functional tests only, you can leverage ginkgo command line options as follows (run a specified suite):

    FUNC_TEST_ARGS='-ginkgo.focus=vmi_networking_test -ginkgo.regexScansFilePath' make functest

In addition, if you want to run a specific test or tests you can prepend any Describe, Context and It statements of your test with an F and Ginkgo will only run items that are marked with the prefix. Remember to remove the prefix before issuing your pull request.

For additional information check out the Ginkgo focused specs documentation


Congratulations you are still with us and you have build KubeVirt.

Now it's time to get hands on and give it a try.

Create a first Virtual Machine

Finally start a VMI called vmi-ephemeral:

    # This can be done from your GIT repo, no need to log into a VMI

    # Create a VMI
    ./cluster/ create -f cluster/examples/vmi-ephemeral.yaml

    # Sure? Let's list all created VMIs
    ./cluster/ get vmis

    # Enough, let's get rid of it
    ./cluster/ delete -f cluster/examples/vmi-ephemeral.yaml

    # You can actually use to introspect the cluster in general
    ./cluster/ get pods

    # To check the running kubevirt services you need to introspect the `kube-system` namespace:
    ./cluster/ -n kube-system get pods

This will start a VMI on master or one of the running nodes with a macvtap and a tap networking device attached.


$ ./cluster/ create -f cluster/examples/vmi-ephemeral.yaml
vm "vmi-ephemeral" created

$ ./cluster/ -n kube-system get pods
NAME                              READY     STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
virt-api                          1/1       Running   1          10h
virt-controller                   1/1       Running   1          10h
virt-handler-z90mp                1/1       Running   1          10h
virt-launcher-vmi-ephemeral9q7es  1/1       Running   0          10s

$ ./cluster/ get vmis
NAME           LABELS                        DATA
vmi-ephemera   {"apiVersion":"","kind":"VMI","...

$ ./cluster/ get vmis -o json
    "kind": "List",
    "apiVersion": "v1",
    "metadata": {},
    "items": [
            "apiVersion": "",
            "kind": "VirtualMachine",
            "metadata": {
                "creationTimestamp": "2016-12-09T17:54:52Z",
                "labels": {
                    "": "master"
                "name": "vmi-ephemeral",
                "namespace": "default",
                "resourceVersion": "102534",
                "selfLink": "/apis/",
                "uid": "7e89280a-be62-11e6-a69f-525400efd09f"
            "spec": {

Accessing the Domain via VNC

First make sure you have remote-viewer installed. On Fedora run

dnf install virt-viewer

Then, after you made sure that the VMI vmi-ephemeral is running, type

cluster/ vnc vmi-ephemeral

to start a remote session with remote-viewer.

cluster/ is a wrapper around virtctl. virtctl brings all virtual machine specific commands with it. It is supplement to kubectl.

Note: If accessing your cluster through ssh, be sure to forward your X11 session in order to launch virtctl vnc.