January 16, 2010

Fedora virtualization has rough edges

After seeing lots of buzz about Virtualization improvements in Fedora 11 and 12 it was time to give it a try. I have experience using desktop virtualization over 10 years; mainly VMWare in beginning and in last few years mostly VirtualBox, but also qemu with kqemu via command line. VirtualBox is the preferable one because of it's ease of use for desktop virtualization.
After installing virt-manager in Fedora 12 I hit first speed bump on the road to native linux virtualization - it failed to install libvirt (bug reported). Without libvirt virt-manager GUI just sits dead in the water. How such an obvious thing got unnoticed so far? Is anybody actually using virt-manager after installing Fedora 12 from live cd?
It was a simple thing to install libvirt and start the service, but something that basic should be done automatically. After starting virt-manager I was pleased with it clean looking UI.
The idea was to install Ubuntu and see how it performed in this virtual environment, but virt-manager only offers root partition as storage location of virtual image. That is just not acceptable for various reasons.
On my system root is used only for Fedora, also usually reformated on every new Fedora release. Root partition on my system is 10GB - plenty of room for Fedora but not for additional virtual images. There is no reason why virt-manager shouldn't have a choice where to save your virtual images, I guess that I'm not the only one who would like to save virtaulization storage images in /home partition (bug reported).
After consulting qemu wiki it was a simple step of issuing qemu-img create -f qcow2 .virt-manager/ubuntu.img 6000M and choose that image in virt-manager. Installation went flawless, resizing VM display to fit my window worked great.
One thing that is missing are tools similar to VirtualBox Guest Additions that enable mouse to be used in both VM and on Fedora without VM needing exclusive right to use the mouse, and then pressing CTRL+ALT keys to ungrab the mouse to make is available on Fedora desktop again. And also clipboard sharing.
Native linux virtualization for desktops looks closer and closer to being a really nice experience, I know that virt-manager guys will fix these issues so go ahead and try it out and share your experience with it.