Running Vagrant and QEMU 1.4 on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Jan 19, 2014 00:00 · 830 words · 4 minutes read linux ubuntu vagrant qemu

I’ve been using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as operating system for work and home use exclusively ever since it was released on these days I mostly develop in C++ or in PHP to build Symfony 2 applications.

Now if you happen to use PhpStorm you may have noticed there was a feature introduced to use Vagrant with your projects.

Portable development environments. You should try out Vagrant.

The basic premise of Vagrant is that you should and now can easily can test whatever software you build. With Vagrant you can either chose from existing system templates or craft your own, to test your projects on a fresh, clean system environment. And the best thing is: you can configure the environment using Puppet or Chef, and whatever you break on it, you can always bring up a clean system within seconds.

But as with all interesting features this comes with a price. You have the choice to use either VirtualBox or libvirt based hypervisor to create and run virtual machines.

Wait, where is the issue here? I do not like to use VirtualBox, since it feels alien to run in under Linux. Linux IMHO is kvm/libvirt, and there is a good reason to use it: it works damn fine.

Thus if things would be perfect I would love to run a recent Vagrant version, extended with two plugins, namely

  • vagrant-mutate – allowing me to use and convert VirtualBox Vagrant boxes to kvm/libvirt format,
  • vagrant-libvirt – allowing me to use libvirt based hypervisor.

The problem

Ubuntu 12.04 – being almost two years old – does lack recent packages, such as an up to date version of qemu which is sitting at version 1.0.

Now that does not play too damn well into wanting to use Vagrant, since Vagrant relies on host images in the VirtualBox format, which qemu supported starting with version 1.2.

The solution

Lucky for me – and you – Hiroshi Miura provides a PPA with the current QEMU version packaged for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS at

We will add this PPA and use QEMU and a few other packages from here:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:miurahr/vagrant && sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install -y bridge-utils libvirt-bin python-vm-builder qemu-kvm qemu-system

If you have a previous installation of QEMU and related packages, I would recommend to purge them from your system, and then add the PPA and install the new packages.

Now that we have a recent QEMU version – 1.4 as of writing this article – we can grab Vagrant. It should be noted that I explicitly use Vagrant 1.3.5 here, since there is a bug in the Vagrant plugin for libvirt which prevents using it with the Vagrant 1.4 (see this issue).

$ wget -q
$ sudo dpkg --install vagrant_1.3.5_x86_64.deb

With Vagrant installed a quick vagrant -v should print out Vagrant 1.3.5.

We’re not done yet, let us add the mutate and libvirt plugins.

libvirt-dev is installed as we need it to install the vagrant-libvirt plugin.

$ sudo apt-get install -y libvirt-dev
$ vagrant plugin install vagrant-mutate && vagrant plugin install vagrant-libvirt
$ vagrant mutate libvirt

Once this is done we are almost ready to go. Since VirtualBox is the default hypervisor for Vagrant we have to tell Vagrant about our love for libvirt.

This can be done individually when starting a Vagrant deployment using vagrant up --provider libvirt which IMHO is tedious if you work on multiple projects and often have to up and destroy machines.

Thus you can also edit your .bashrc file, and export the default Vagrant provider:


With this done, relog and you can simply use vagrant up to start machines using libvirt.

Is that all?

In a perfect world this would be everything but in reality there is a tiny addendum. The Vagrantfile created by vagrant init usually comes with a section to configure VirtualBox, and there is a similar section required for libvirt.

The vagrant libvirt plugins has a few more options. Note that I skipped the setting to that libvirt directly calls qemu://.

# -*- mode: ruby -*-
# vi: set ft=ruby :

# Vagrantfile API/syntax version. Don't touch unless you know what you're doing!

Vagrant.configure(VAGRANTFILE_API_VERSION) do |config|
    # All Vagrant configuration is done here. The most common configuration
    # options are documented and commented below. For a complete reference,
    # please see the online documentation at

    # Every Vagrant virtual environment requires a box to build off of. = "precise64"

    # The url from where the '' box will be fetched if it
    # doesn't already exist on the user's system.
    config.vm.box_url = ""

    # Provider-specific configuration so you can fine-tune various
    # backing providers for Vagrant. These expose provider-specific options.
    config.vm.provider :libvirt do |libvirt|
        libvirt.driver = "qemu"
        libvirt.connect_via_ssh = false
        libvirt.username = "root"
        libvirt.storage_pool_name = "default"


With this done, we can use Vagrant for our projects. Enjoy the pretty development environments, and make good use of them.

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