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Testing Ubuntu Core with QEMU

You can test Ubuntu Core without specific hardware from within a virtual machine.

To test Ubuntu Core with QEMU (https://www.qemu.org/) on Ubuntu, first install the qemu-kvm package and test it with kvm-ok (a utility that comes with the cpu-checker package):

$ sudo apt install qemu-kvm
$ kvm-ok
INFO: /dev/kvm exists
KVM acceleration can be used
$

To ensure compatibility with the required UEFI features in Ubuntu Core 22 and 20, also install the OVMF package:

$ sudo apt install ovmf

Download the preferred Ubuntu Core image for your device platform. See Supported platforms for links to images.

By default, images are compressed with xz and can be expanded from the Linux command line with the following command:

$ xz -d <image-name>.img.xz

Booting an Ubuntu Core image with QEMU

The exact QEMU command to run will depend on your host hardware capabilities, such as available memory and CPU cores, but the following should work in the majority of cases:

For Ubuntu Core 22 and 20:

We recommend first installing a test snap that emulates TPM in software with libtpms :

 $ snap install --edge test-snapd-swtpm

The path to the snap’s libtpms-based socket (/var/snap/test-snapd-swtpm/current/swtpm-sock) is passed to the QEMU command:

$ sudo qemu-system-x86_64 \
 -enable-kvm \
 -smp 1 \
 -m 2048 \
 -machine q35 \
 -cpu host \
 -global ICH9-LPC.disable_s3=1 \
 -net nic,model=virtio \
 -net user,hostfwd=tcp::8022-:22,hostfwd=tcp::8090-:80  \
 -drive file=/usr/share/OVMF/OVMF_CODE.secboot.fd,if=pflash,format=raw,unit=0,readonly=on \
 -drive file=/usr/share/OVMF/OVMF_VARS.ms.fd,if=pflash,format=raw,unit=1 \
 -chardev socket,id=chrtpm,path="/var/snap/test-snapd-swtpm/current/swtpm-sock" \
 -tpmdev emulator,id=tpm0,chardev=chrtpm \
 -device tpm-tis,tpmdev=tpm0 \
 -drive "file=uc.img",if=none,format=raw,id=disk1 \
 -device virtio-blk-pci,drive=disk1,bootindex=1 \
 -serial mon:stdio

To test Ubuntu Core 22 and 20 without TPM emulation, omit the three lines that reference the TPM device:

$ sudo qemu-system-x86_64 \
 -enable-kvm \
 -smp 1 \
 -m 2048 \
 -machine q35 \
 -cpu host \
 -global ICH9-LPC.disable_s3=1 \
 -net nic,model=virtio \
 -net user,hostfwd=tcp::8022-:22,hostfwd=tcp::8090-:80  \
 -drive file=/usr/share/OVMF/OVMF_CODE.secboot.fd,if=pflash,format=raw,unit=0,readonly=on \
 -drive file=/usr/share/OVMF/OVMF_VARS.ms.fd,if=pflash,format=raw,unit=1 \
 -drive "file=uc.img",if=none,format=raw,id=disk1 \
 -device virtio-blk-pci,drive=disk1,bootindex=1 \
 -serial mon:stdio

For Ubuntu Core 18:

$ qemu-system-x86_64 \ 
 -enable-kvm \ 
 -smp 2 \
 -m 1500 \
 -netdev user,id=mynet0,hostfwd=tcp::8022-:22,hostfwd=tcp::8090-:80 \
 -device virtio-net-pci,netdev=mynet0 \
 -drive file=uc.img,format=raw

In both of the above commands, the Ubuntu Core image is called uc.img and we forward the virtual SSH port 22 to port 8022 on the host, and 80 to 8090 for any web server application you wish to install in the VM. You can also use a VNC client to connect to the session on vnc://localhost:5900.

To access this configuration from your host machine, type the following:

$ ssh -i <path-to-private-key> <sso-username>@localhost -p 8022

In addition to SSH access, QEMU will start a VNC-shared console which can be accessed at vnc://localhost:5900 on the system.

For a brief introduction on how to get started with Ubuntu Core, see Using Ubuntu Core.

Last updated a month ago. Help improve this document in the forum.