How to boot a PowerPC KVM guest from virtio-fs


Virtio-fs is a shared file system that lets virtual machines access a directory tree on the host. Unlike existing approaches, it is designed to offer local file system semantics and performance. Virtio-fs was started at Red Hat and is being developed in the Linux, QEMU, FUSE, and Kata Containers communities that are affected by code changes. More details on virtio-fs can be found here.

This blog gives a step by step guide on how to setup an PowerPC KVM Environment to boot a KVM guest from virtio-fs as rootfs.

Environment used:


1. Create a working directory on host.

  • mkdir -p /home/virtio-fs
  • cd /home/virtio-fs

    For rest of the blog this folder is referred as $PWD

2. Needs a Guest kernel that supports virtio-fs as bootdisk, let’s build one.

Get kernel:

  • git clone -b virtio-fs

    Mainline kernel has support for virtio-fs already, my above branch has two additional patches to get rootfs feature and kernel configs to enable it for my defconfig used below:

    • Patch from to get virtio-fs as rootfs support.

    • Patch to enable virtio fs kernel configs to support on guest kernel.

Compile kernel:

  • cd linux
  • make ppc64le_guest_defconfig
  • make -j 120 -s
  • cd ..

Now we have guest kernel at $PWD/linux/vmlinux

3. Needs a qemu that supports virtio-fs, let’s build one.

Get Qemu:

Compile Qemu:

  • cd qemu
  • ./configure --target-list=ppc64-softmmu --enable-debug --disable-werrormake
  • make -j 120 -s
  • cd ..

Now we have qemu binary at $PWD/qemu/ppc64-softmmu/qemu-system-ppc64

4. Needs a virtiofs daemon, let’s build one.

  • cd qemu
  • make -j 8 virtiofsd
  • cd ..

Now we have virtio fs daemon binary at $PWD/qemu/virtiofsd

5. Let’s build a Fedora root file system based on F32:

  • mkdir $PWD/virtio-fs-root
  • dnf --installroot=$PWD/virtio-fs-root --releasever=32 install system-release vim-minimal systemd passwd dnf rootfiles pciutils

    Select yes to install packages.

    Incase to install additional packages, use below commandline,

    dnf –installroot=$PWD/virtio-fs-root –releasever=32 install “packages to install”

  • openssl passwd -1 123456


    let’s create a passwd for guest root file system, in above command 123456 is our guest password and output generated is md5 password of same, change the password as per your need and use the generated one in shadow file.

  • Edit password field of $PWD/virtio-fs-root/etc/shadow with above md5sum password.

    Before edit:

    $ head -1 $PWD/virtio-fs-root/etc/shadow


    After edit:

    $ head -1 $PWD/virtio-fs-root/etc/shadow root:$1$sWUb0J.r$cyjCLYRfstQ0xEHVZ45UZ/:18292:0:99999:7:::

  • mknod $PWD/virtio-fs-root/dev/hvc0 c 1 2

    This creates serial device for guest console

  • cp $PWD/virtio-fs-root/usr/lib/systemd/system/serial-getty@.service $PWD/virtio-fs-root/etc/systemd/system/
  • cd $PWD/virtio-fs-root/etc/systemd/system/
  • ln -s serial-getty@hvc0.service getty@hvc0.service
  • Edit getty@hvc0.service with below changes

    this is needed to get the guest serial console working fine.

  • cd /home/virtio-fs

6. Let’s Boot PowerPC KVM guest using qemu cmdline with virtio-fs.

  • $PWD/qemu/virtiofsd -o --socket-path=/tmp/vhostqemu -o source=$PWD/virtio-fs-root -o cache=none &

    this command starts the virtio fs daemon in background

  • Run below qemu command to start a KVM guest
    $PWD/qemu/ppc64-softmmu/qemu-system-ppc64 \
          -m 4096 -object memory-backend-file,id=mem,size=4G,mem-path=/dev/shm,share=on -numa node,memdev=mem \
          -smp 4 -enable-kvm -serial mon:stdio -vga none -nographic \
          -kernel $PWD/linux/vmlinux \
          -append "rootfstype=virtiofs root=myfs rw" \
          -chardev socket,id=char0,path=/tmp/vhostqemu \
          -device vhost-user-fs-pci,queue-size=1024,chardev=char0,tag=myfs

Login using the password created in previous steps, this blog used 123456 as guest root password, let’s use that to login, below are command outputs inside kvm guest.

localhost login:
localhost login: root
Last login: Tue May 12 14:30:59 on hvc0
[   16.610692] id (134) used greatest stack depth: 10736 bytes left
[root@localhost ~]#
# lscpu
Architecture:                    ppc64le
Byte Order:                      Little Endian
CPU(s):                          4
On-line CPU(s) list:             0-3
Thread(s) per core:              1
Core(s) per socket:              1
Socket(s):                       4
NUMA node(s):                    1
Model:                           2.3 (pvr 004e 1203)
Model name:                      POWER9 (architected), altivec supported
Hypervisor vendor:               KVM
Virtualization type:             para
L1d cache:                       128 KiB
L1i cache:                       128 KiB
NUMA node0 CPU(s):               0-3
Vulnerability Itlb multihit:     Not affected
Vulnerability L1tf:              Mitigation; RFI Flush, L1D private per thread
Vulnerability Mds:               Not affected
Vulnerability Meltdown:          Mitigation; RFI Flush, L1D private per thread
Vulnerability Spec store bypass: Mitigation; Kernel entry/exit barrier (eieio)
Vulnerability Spectre v1:        Mitigation; __user pointer sanitization, ori31
                                 speculation barrier enabled
Vulnerability Spectre v2:        Mitigation; Software count cache flush, Softwar
                                 e link stack flush
Vulnerability Tsx async abort:   Not affected

[root@localhost ~]# cat /etc/os-release
VERSION="32 (Thirty Two)"
PRETTY_NAME="Fedora 32 (Thirty Two)"
[root@localhost ~]# uname -a
Linux localhost 5.7.0-rc5-g7aa8a99a5-dirty #5 SMP Tue May 12 07:33:17 EDT 2020 ppc64le ppc64le ppc64le GNU/Linux
[root@localhost ~]# lspci
00:00.0 Mass storage controller: Red Hat, Inc. Device 105a (rev 01)

Now We have PowerPC KVM guest booted with virtio-fs as bootdisk.

This blog is written based on below reference documents on virtio-fs and my additional steps that are needed for setup on PowerPC environment.

Thanks for reading, Hope this blog helps you in someways :-)