Monday, October 18, 2021

Use Virtual Machine Manager to create a Raspberry Pi virtual machine on Ubuntu

I tried to use the Virtual Machine Manager (virt-manager)'s graphical user interface on Ubuntu to create a Raspberry Pi virtual machine. I found it to be a little tricky having to know the right parameters and configuration. This post describes the steps I went through to successfully create and run the Raspberry Pi virtual machine.

Install software prerequisites

If virt-manager and/or QEMU are not installed on the Ubuntu host, then run the following commands to install them.

$ sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-clients libvirt-daemon-system bridge-utils virtinst libvirt-daemon virt-manager

Download a Raspberry Pi OS image

  1. Open up a browser to

  2. Click on a Raspberry Pi OS image of your choice to download. For example, Raspberry Pi OS Lite.

  3. Unzip the download file and place the extracted image file e.g. 2021-05-raspios-buster-armhf-lite.img to a folder, e.g. /path/to/folder/.

Download a QEMU kernel and the device tree blob (.dtb) for Raspberry Pi

  1. Open up a browser and browse to the repository

  2. Click on kernel-qemu-4.19.50-buster and download the kernel to a folder, e.g. /path/to/folder/.

  3. Next, click on versatile-pb-buster.dtb and download the file to a folder, e.g. /path/to/folder/.

Create a new VM

  1. On the Ubuntu host, run virt-manager.

    The Virtual Machine Manager graphical application appears.
  2. Click the Create a new virtual machine button.

    The New VM dialog box wizard appears.

  3. In the Architecture options drop down, choose armv6l in the Architecture combo box. Then select versatilepb in the Machine Type combo box. Press Forward.

    Step 2 page appears.
  4. In the Provide the existing storage path field, click Browse.

    The Choose Storage Volume dialog appears.

  5. Click Browse Local and choose to open the previously downloaded Raspberry Pi OS image, e.g. /path/to/folder/2021-05-raspios-buster-armhf-lite.img.

  6. In the Kernel path field, click the Browse button.

    The Choose Storage Volume appears again.

  7. Click Browse Local and choose to open the previously downloaded kernel file, e.g. /path/to/folder/kernel-qemu-4.19.50-buster.

  8. In the DTB path field, click the Browse button.

    The Choose Storage Volume appears.

  9. Click Browse Local and choose to open the previously downloaded dtb file, e.g. /path/to/folder/versatile-pb-buster.dtb.

  10. In the Kernel args field, type in the following:

    root=/dev/vda2 panic=1

  11. Finally, in the Choose the operating system you are installing field, type and choose the following:

    Generic default (generic)

    The Step 2 of the New VM dialog should look like the screen below.

  12. Click Forward.

    Page Step 3 appears.

  13. In the Memory field, change the value to 256.

  14. Click Forward.

    Page 4 appears.

  15. Optional. Change the Name from vm-armv6l if necessary.

  16. Toggle on Customize configuration before install. In the Network selection drop down, select Specify shared device name. Then type in virbr0 in the Bridge name.

  17. Click Finish.

    The vm-armv6l on QEMU/KVM dialog box appears.

Customize configuration

  1. Click CPUs. Then in the Model combo box, choose arm1176. Then click Apply to save the change.

  2. Click Boot Options. Toggle on Enable boot menu. Then Toggle on IDE Disk 1. Click Apply.

  3. Click on IDE Disk 1. Then click the Advanced options drop down. In the Disk bus field, change from IDE to VirtIO. Click Apply.

  4. Click the NIC icon. Then change the Device model to virtio. Click Apply.

  5. Optional. Click Add Hardware to add additional peripherals such as Serial mouse, Video card etc. if necessary.

  6. Click Begin Installation.

    The processing messages appear and the Raspberry Pi VM is created.

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