Testing SMM with QEMU, KVM and libvirt

Laszlo Ersek edited this page Jul 12, 2017 · 11 revisions
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This article describes an example setup for testing the edk2 SMM driver stack as it is built into OVMF, on QEMU/KVM, managed by libvirt. The setup uses hardware virtualization (KVM) and requires a Linux host machine.

We assume that the host machine is dedicated to the above kind of testing (i.e., it is not a general purpose / interactive workstation or desktop computer); we'll be using the root user. It's also assumed that the host is in a protected internal network and not exposed on the public internet.

The examples below will use Fedora, for both host and (one) guest operating system; feel free to use any other Linux distribution that you like.

Hardware requirements

Please use an x86_64 machine with at least 4 logical processors (quad core with HT disabled, or dual core with HT enabled). The machine should have at least 8GB of RAM, and support Intel hardware virtualization (VT-x).

For now, EPT support is also required.

(In the longer term, SMM emulation in KVM should work without EPT. RHBZ#1348092 tracks this issue.)

Commands for verifying the host CPU features will be provided in the next section.

(There's no reason why an AMD host wouldn't be appropriate; this article assumes an Intel host only because such seem to be more widely available.)

Regarding disk space, a few hundred GB should be plenty. An SSD is strongly recommended.

Install the host operating system

Obtain the Live installation image for Fedora 26 Workstation (direct link), and boot it.

Before starting the installation, select Try Fedora on the GUI, open a terminal in the Live environment, and verify that the hardware requirements are satisfied. All of the following commands should return nonzero line counts (the actual counts should match the number of logical processors on your host):

grep -c -w vmx /proc/cpuinfo
grep -c -w ept /proc/cpuinfo

Furthermore, for performance reasons, a virtualization host is recommended (but not required) where the following command outputs Y:

cat /sys/module/kvm_intel/parameters/unrestricted_guest

Proceed with the installation. For help, please refer to the Installation Guide.

In general, stick with the defaults. On the Configuration and Installation Progress screen, do not create a non-root user, only set the root password.

Perform an initial system update

Although this step is mentioned in the Installation Guide under Common Post-installation Tasks, it is worth mentioning here.

After booting the installed host OS, switch to a character console with Ctrl+Alt+F2, log in as root, install any available updates, and reboot:

dnf --refresh upgrade

Remote access

After the installation and the initial system update, it is more convenient to access the virtualization host remotely.

  • Users on Linux desktops can run virsh and virt-manager locally, and implicitly connect to the remote libvirt daemon over SSH.

  • For Windows users, it is recommended to set up a local X server, and an SSH client for forwarding X11 traffic. A succinct guide can be found here.

    This is an optional step, not a requirement. However, without it, there's no easy way to bring the default virtual machine management GUI, virt-manager, from the Linux virtualization host to one's familiar Windows productivity environment.

For both options above, the SSH daemon should be enabled and started on the virtualization host. Log in as root on the GUI (if necessary, click the Not listed? label on the login screen, and enter root plus the appropriate password). Open a terminal, and run the following commands:

systemctl enable sshd
systemctl start sshd

If the second option (X11 forwarding) is selected, then the following command is necessary as well:

dnf install xorg-x11-xauth

These are the last actions that, in the optimal case, should be performed with direct physical access to the virtualization host.

Install QEMU and libvirt

In this step no low-level system components are installed, therefore it's enough to log in to the virtualization host via SSH. Run the following commands:

dnf group install --with-optional virtualization

systemctl enable libvirtd
systemctl start libvirtd

systemctl enable virtlogd
systemctl start virtlogd

Enable nested virtualization

In this article, we have no use for nested virtualization, except as a somewhat obscure test case (described below) for edk2's EFI_PEI_MP_SERVICES_PPI implementation (which lives in UefiCpuPkg/CpuMpPei and UefiCpuPkg/Library/MpInitLib). Given that multiprocessing is a primary building block for the most important SMM driver in edk2 (UefiCpuPkg/PiSmmCpuDxeSmm), it makes sense to test multiprocessing with a less demanding exercise as well.

Enabling nested virtualization in KVM, on the host, is ultimately one possible trigger for OVMF to program the MSR_IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL register of all VCPUs in parallel, exposing VT-x to the guest OS. (Please see the RFE for details.) For this, OVMF uses EFI_PEI_MP_SERVICES_PPI.

Permanently enable nested virtualization with the following commands:

sed --regexp-extended --in-place=.bak \
  --expression='s,^#(options kvm_intel nested=1)$,\1,' \

rmmod kvm_intel
modprobe kvm_intel

Verify the setting -- the following command should print Y:

cat /sys/module/kvm_intel/parameters/nested

Install OVMF from source

  • Install build dependencies:

    dnf install gcc-c++ nasm libuuid-devel acpica-tools
  • Clone the upstream edk2 repository:

    git clone https://github.com/tianocore/edk2.git $EDK2_SOURCE
  • Download and embed OpenSSL into the edk2 source tree as instructed in the $EDK2_SOURCE/CryptoPkg/Library/OpensslLib/OpenSSL-HOWTO.txt file.

    At the time of this writing (2017-Jul-12), upstream edk2 still uses OpenSSL version 1.1.0e, although the OpenSSL project has released 1.1.0f meanwhile (on 2017-May-25). Therefore, the commands from OpenSSL-HOWTO.txt can currently be condensed like written below -- please double-check the sanctioned version in OpenSSL-HOWTO.txt first, and update the OPENSSL_VER assignment below as necessary:

    wget -q -O - http://www.openssl.org/source/${OPENSSL_VER}.tar.gz \
    | tar -C $EDK2_SOURCE/CryptoPkg/Library/OpensslLib -x -z
    ln -s ${OPENSSL_VER} $EDK2_SOURCE/CryptoPkg/Library/OpensslLib/openssl
  • Build OVMF:

    cd $EDK2_SOURCE
    source edksetup.sh
    make -C "$EDK_TOOLS_PATH"
    build -a IA32 -a X64 -p OvmfPkg/OvmfPkgIa32X64.dsc \
      -t GCC5 \
      -b NOOPT \
      -n $(getconf _NPROCESSORS_ONLN)
    build -a IA32 -p OvmfPkg/OvmfPkgIa32.dsc \
      -t GCC5 \
      -b NOOPT \
      -n $(getconf _NPROCESSORS_ONLN)
    • We build the Ia32 (32-bit PEI and DXE) and Ia32X64 (32-bit PEI, 64-bit DXE) OVMF platforms because they support ACPI S3 suspend/resume and SMM at the same time. S3 is a demanding use case for the SMM infrastructure, therefore we should enable this combination.

    • The X64 build of OVMF does not support the same yet (UefiCpuPkg/Universal/Acpi/S3Resume2Pei forces OVMF to choose between S3 and SMM). Thankfully, the PEI bitness is entirely irrelevant to guest OSes, thus the Ia32X64 platform can be used identically, as far as OS-facing functionality is concerned.

    • The Ia32 platform has more readily exposed instabilities in the edk2 SMM driver stack (as built into OVMF and run on QEMU), historically, than the Ia32X64 platform. Therefore it makes sense to build Ia32 too.

    • 32-bit UEFI OSes are not covered in the current version of this article (2017-Jul-12).

  • Install OVMF (the split firmware binaries and variable store template):

    mkdir -p -v $OVMF_INSTALL
    install -m 0644 -v \
      ${EDK2_SOURCE}/Build/Ovmf3264/NOOPT_GCC5/FV/OVMF_CODE.fd \
    install -m 0644 -v \
      ${EDK2_SOURCE}/Build/Ovmf3264/NOOPT_GCC5/FV/OVMF_VARS.fd \
    install -m 0644 -v \
      ${EDK2_SOURCE}/Build/OvmfIa32/NOOPT_GCC5/FV/OVMF_CODE.fd \
    chcon -v --reference=/usr/share/edk2/ovmf/OVMF_CODE.secboot.fd \
    • In the last step, we copy the SELinux context from one of the Fedora-provided OVMF files to our manually built files, so that the latter too can be used with libvirt. (Fedora's own OVMF binaries are perfectly usable for end-users, it's just that the target audience of this article is people interested in edk2 development and analysis.)

Create disk images for the virtual machines

In this section, we create two disk images (one for a Fedora 26 guest, another for a Windows 10 guest). We also place a number of ISO images in the right place, so that we can install the guests from zero.

Fedora 26

  • Copy or move the image file Fedora-Workstation-Live-x86_64-26-1.5.iso, which we also used for installing the virtualization host, to the directory /var/lib/libvirt/images/.

  • Create an empty disk for the guest:

    qemu-img create -f qcow2 \
      -o compat=1.1 -o cluster_size=65536 \
      -o preallocation=metadata -o lazy_refcounts=on \
      /var/lib/libvirt/images/ovmf.fedora.q35.img 100G

    The image file will have a nominal 100GB size, but it will only consume as much disk space on the host as necessary. In addition, whenever the fstrim utility is executed in the guest, unused space will be returned to the host.

Windows 10

  • Download en_windows_10_enterprise_2015_ltsb_n_x64_dvd_6848316.iso from MSDN, and place it under /var/lib/libvirt/images/.

  • Create an empty disk for the guest, similarly to the Fedora 26 command:

    qemu-img create -f qcow2 \
      -o compat=1.1 -o cluster_size=65536 \
      -o preallocation=metadata -o lazy_refcounts=on \
      /var/lib/libvirt/images/ovmf.win10.q35.img 100G
  • When installing the Windows 10 guest, we'll need the VirtIO drivers. The following instructions have been distilled from the Fedora Project Wiki:

    wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/virtio-win.repo \
    dnf install virtio-win

    The ISO image with the drivers becomes available through the /usr/share/virtio-win/virtio-win.iso symlink.

Install the Fedora 26 guest

Libvirt domain definition (Fedora 26 guest)

Download the file ovmf.fedora.q35.template to the virtualization host, and define the guest from it:

virsh define ovmf.fedora.q35.template

After this step, the template file can be deleted.

Note that the template hard-codes a number of pathnames from the above sections. If you changed any of those pathnames, please update the template file accordingly, before running the virsh define command above. (Most of the defined domain's characteristics can be edited later as well, with virsh edit or virt-manager.)

This domain configuration can be used for both installing the guest and booting the installed guest.

Guest installation (Fedora 26 guest)

  • On the virtualization host, start virt-manager.

    Windows users should preferably do this via SSH, with X11 forwarding; see under Remote Access above.

    (Linux users should preferably run virt-manager on their desktops instead, and connect to the remote libvirt daemon directly.)

  • Select the guest name ovmf.fedora.q35, and click Open in the menu bar.

    virt-manager overview

  • In the ovmf.fedora.q35 guest's window, click the Play icon in the menu bar. This powers on the virtual machine. The TianoCore splash screen appears.

    OVMF splash

  • The Fedora Live environment is booted then. Proceed with the installation similarly to how the virtualization host was installed.

    It may be necessary to select View | Resize to VM in the menu bar.

Tests to perform in the installed guest (Fedora 26 guest)

Confirm "simple" multiprocessing during boot

This is the test that we enabled with nested virtualization.

  • Install the rdmsr utility with the following command:

    dnf install msr-tools
  • Query the Feature Control MSR on all VCPUs:

    rdmsr -a 0x3a
  • The output should be the same nonzero value (0x5 or 0x100005) for all four VCPUs in the guest.

UEFI variable access test

  • Open a new terminal window, and run the following commands:

    time taskset -c 0 efibootmgr
    time taskset -c 1 efibootmgr

    They exercise the runtime UEFI variable services, running the services bound to VCPU-0 (BSP) and VCPU-1 (first AP) respectively. They trigger different parts of the SMM synchronization code in edk2.

  • The result for both commands should be the same, including closely matched (short) running times.

ACPI S3 suspend/resume loop

  • Under Activities | Settings | Personal | Privacy | Screen Lock, set Automatic Screen Lock to Off.

  • Open a new terminal window, and input the following shell script:

    while read -p "about to suspend"; do
      systemctl suspend
      echo -n "iteration=$((X++)) #VCPUs="
      grep -c -i '^processor' /proc/cpuinfo
  • Whenever the prompt appears, hit Enter. (Hit Control-C instead of Enter to terminate the test.) The guest should be suspended; its status in the Virt Manager overview window changes from Running to Suspended.

  • Hit Enter again, at the screen that is now black. The guest should resume without problems. The iteration counter should increase, while the number of VCPUs should remain 4.

  • After a good number of iterations, abort the test, and repeat the UEFI variable access test.

Install the Windows 10 guest

Libvirt domain definition (Windows 10 guest)

Download the file ovmf.win10.q35.template to the virtualization host, and define the guest from it:

virsh define ovmf.win10.q35.template

After this step, the template file can be deleted.

If you changed any of the pathnames in the earlier sections, then the same warning applies as to the Fedora 26 guest.

Again, this domain configuration can be used for both installing the guest and booting the installed guest.

Guest installation (Windows 10 guest)

The same general comments apply as to the Fedora 26 guest. However, the Windows 10 install media does not contain VirtIO drivers. Therefore the Windows 10 domain configuration includes an additional CD-ROM drive, which is not on a VirtIO SCSI bus, but on a SATA bus.

The Windows 10 installer is booted off the VirtIO SCSI CD-ROM, using the UEFI protocol stack (at the bottom of which is the OvmfPkg/VirtioScsiDxe driver in this scenario). With the user's help, the installer can then fetch the native VirtIO SCSI driver from the virtio-win SATA CD-ROM (using the built-in Windows SATA driver).

selecting the VirtIO SCSI driver for Windows 10 during install

After the final reboot during installation, the guest is usable, but its display has no 2D acceleration (it uses the framebuffer inherited from OVMF's EFI_GRAPHICS_OUTPUT_PROTOCOL). A few other VirtIO devices miss their drivers too. Install them all in the Device Manager as follows (see again the Fedora Project Wiki).

QXL Display Only Driver

select the QXL DOD for Windows 10 in Device Manager

VirtIO Network Card

select the NetKVM driver for Windows 10 in Device Manager

VirtIO Balloon Device

select the Balloon driver for Windows 10 in Device Manager

VirtIO Serial Console

select the vioserial driver for Windows 10 in Device Manager

"HID Button over Interrupt Driver"

You may have noticed the stubborn yellow triangle in the above screenshots. This device is incorrectly recognized due to a typing error in Windows; please refer to RHBZ#1377155.

Tests to perform in the installed guest (Windows 10 guest)

ACPI S3 suspend/resume

  • Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, click on the Power Button icon in the lower right corner, then select Sleep.

  • The status of the ovmf.win10.q35 guest should change to Suspended in the Virt Manager overview. The guest screen goes dark.

  • Hit Enter in the (black) guest window, then move the mouse. The guest resumes, and the lock / Sign In screen is displayed.