How to use virt-install to install new virtual machines within libvirt/kvm

I've been using KVM and virt-install to manage virtual machines on one of my servers, this post shows how to use virt-install.

According to the package management system I'm having the following packages installed:

root@edgewalker ~ # dpkg -l | grep virt
ii  libvirt-bin                         1.1.1-0ubuntu8.1                    amd64        programs for the libvirt library
ii  libvirt0                            1.1.1-0ubuntu8.1                    amd64        library for interfacing with different virtualization systems
ii  munin-libvirt-plugins               0.0.6-1                             all          Munin plugins using libvirt
ii  openvpn                             2.3.2-4ubuntu1                      amd64        virtual private network daemon
ii  python-libvirt                      1.1.1-0ubuntu8.1                    amd64        libvirt Python bindings
ii  qemu-kvm                            1.5.0+dfsg-3ubuntu5                 amd64        QEMU Full virtualization on x86 hardware (transitional package)
ii  virt-top                            1.0.7-1                             amd64        show stats of virtualized domains
ii  virtinst                            0.600.4-2ubuntu2.1                  all          Programs to create and clone virtual machines

Storage-wise I'm using a LVM volume group called 'vg0' (which was imported into the libvirt configuration).

How to use virt-install

To setup a new guest machine I'm using the following command:

$ virt-install -n virtual_machine_name -r 4096 --os-type=linux --os-variant=debianwheezy --disk pool=vg0,size=40,bus=virtio,sparse=false,cache=none,io=native -w bridge=virbr0,model=virtio --graphics none -l http://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/wheezy/main/installer-amd64/ --autostart -x console=ttyS0,115200n8

That's mostly it. The parameters configure the following

Parameter Value Why?
-n virtual_machine_name the name of the virtual machine, d'oh
-r 4096 virtual memory size, this would be 4GB
-l, -os* .. which operating system to install
–disk .. create a new LVM volume with 40GB, use virtio drivers for higher performance
-w .. network configuration, use the default bridge
–graphics none we don't need not graphical user interface
–autostart none automatically start installation
-x console .. also create a virtual console, this will allow us to finish installation

The host-bridge setup (created by the debian installation) will assign a private IP address to the virtual machine through DHCP. I'm using the virtio drivers as those should yield better performance than the rest.

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