An VirtualMachine provides additional management capabilities to a VirtualMachineInstance inside the cluster. That includes:

  • ABI stability
  • Start/stop/restart capabilities on the controller level
  • Offline configuration change with propagation on VirtualMachineInstance recreation
  • Ensure that the VirtualMachineInstance is running if it should be running

It focuses on a 1:1 relationship between the controller instance and a virtual machine instance. In many ways it is very similar to a StatefulSet with spec.replica set to 1.

How to use a VirtualMachine

A VirtualMachine will make sure that a VirtualMachineInstance object with an identical name will be present in the cluster, if spec.running is set to true. Further it will make sure that a VirtualMachineInstance will be removed from the cluster if spec.running is set to false.

Starting and stopping

After creating a VirtualMachine it can be switched on or off like this:

# Start the virtual machine:
virtctl start myvm

# Stop the virtual machine:
virtctl stop myvm

kubectl can be used too:

# Start the virtual machine:
kubectl patch virtualmachine myvm --type merge -p \

# Stop the virtual machine:
kubectl patch virtualmachine myvm --type merge -p \

Controller status

Once a VirtualMachineInstance is created, its state will be tracked via status.created and status.ready. If a VirtualMachineInstance exists in the cluster, status.created will equal to true. If the VirtualMachineInstance is also ready, status.ready will equal true too.

If a VirtualMachineInstance reaches a final state but the spec.running equals true, the VirtualMachine controller will set status.ready to false and re-create the VirtualMachineInstance.


A VirtualMachineInstance restart can be triggered by deleting the VirtualMachineInstance. This will also propagate configuration changes from the template in the VirtualMachine:

# Restart the virtual machine (you delete the instance!):
kubectl delete virtualmachineinstance myvm

Fencing considerations

A VirtualMachine will never restart or re-create a VirtualMachineInstance until the current instance of the VirtualMachineInstance is deleted from the cluster.

Exposing as a Service

A VirtualMachine can be exposed as a service. The actual service will be available once the VirtualMachineInstance starts without additional interaction.

For example, exposing SSH port (22) as a ClusterIP service using virtctl after the OfflineVirtualMAchine was created, but before it started:

$ virtctl expose virtualmachine vmi-ephemeral --name vmiservice --port 27017 --target-port 22

All service exposure options that apply to a VirtualMachineInstance apply to a VirtualMachine. See Exposing VirtualMachineInstance for more details.

When to use a VirtualMachine

When ABI stability is required between restarts

A VirtualMachine makes sure that VirtualMachineInstance ABI configurations are consistent between restarts. A classical example are licenses which are bound to the firmware UUID of a virtual machine. The VirtualMachine makes sure that the UUID will always stay the same without the user having to take care of it.

One of the main benefits is that a user can still make use of defaulting logic, although a stable ABI is needed.

When config updates should be picked up on the next restart

If the VirtualMachineInstance configuration should be modifyable inside the cluster and these changes should be picked up on the next VirtualMachineInstance restart. This means that no hotplug is involved.

When you want to let the cluster manage your individual VirtualMachineInstance

Kubernetes as a declarative system can help you to manage the VirtualMachineInstance.

You tell it that you want this VirtualMachineInstance with your application running, the VirtualMachine will try to make sure it stays running.

Note: The current believe is that if it is defined that the VirtualMachineInstance should be running, it should be running. This is different to many classical virtualization platforms, where VMs stay down if they were switched off. Restart policies may be added if needed. Please provide your use-case if you need this!


kind: VirtualMachine
  creationTimestamp: null
  labels: vm-cirros
  name: vm-cirros
  running: false
      creationTimestamp: null
      labels: vm-cirros
          - disk:
              bus: virtio
            name: registrydisk
            volumeName: registryvolume
          - disk:
              bus: virtio
            name: cloudinitdisk
            volumeName: cloudinitvolume
          type: ""
            memory: 64M
      terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 0
      - name: registryvolume
          image: kubevirt/cirros-registry-disk-demo:latest
      - cloudInitNoCloud:
          userDataBase64: IyEvYmluL3NoCgplY2hvICdwcmludGVkIGZyb20gY2xvdWQtaW5pdCB1c2VyZGF0YScK
        name: cloudinitvolume

Saving this manifest into vm.yaml and submitting it to Kubernetes will create the controller instance:

$ kubectl create -f vm.yaml
virtualmachine "vm-cirros" created

Since spec.running is set to false, no vmi will be created:

$ kubectl get vmis
No resources found.

Let’s start the VirtualMachine:

$ virtctl start omv vm-cirros

As expected, a VirtualMachineInstance called vm-cirros got created:

$ kubectl describe vm vm-cirros
Name:         vm-cirros
Namespace:    default
Annotations:  <none>
API Version:
Kind:         VirtualMachine
  Cluster Name:        
  Creation Timestamp:  2018-04-30T09:25:08Z
  Generation:          0
  Resource Version:    6418
  Self Link:           /apis/
  UID:                 60043358-4c58-11e8-8653-525500d15501
  Running:  true
      Creation Timestamp:  <nil>
        Kubevirt . Io / Ovmi:  vm-cirros
              Bus:        virtio
            Name:         registrydisk
            Volume Name:  registryvolume
              Bus:        virtio
            Name:         cloudinitdisk
            Volume Name:  cloudinitvolume
            Memory:                      64M
      Termination Grace Period Seconds:  0
        Name:  registryvolume
        Registry Disk:
          Image:  kubevirt/cirros-registry-disk-demo:latest
        Cloud Init No Cloud:
          User Data Base 64:  IyEvYmluL3NoCgplY2hvICdwcmludGVkIGZyb20gY2xvdWQtaW5pdCB1c2VyZGF0YScK
        Name:                 cloudinitvolume
  Created:  true
  Ready:    true
  Type    Reason            Age   From                              Message
  ----    ------            ----  ----                              -------
  Normal  SuccessfulCreate  15s   virtualmachine-controller  Created virtual machine: vm-cirros

kubectl commandline interactions

Whenever you want to manipulate the VirtualMachine through the commandline you can use the kubectl command. The following are examples demonstrating how to do it.

# Define a virtual machine:
kubectl create -f myvm.yaml

# Start the virtual machine:
kubectl patch virtualmachine myvm --type merge -p \

# Look at virtual machine status and associated events:
kubectl describe virtualmachine myvm

# Look at the now created virtual machine instance status and associated events:
kubectl describe virtualmachineinstance myvm

# Stop the virtual machine instance:
kubectl patch virtualmachine myvm --type merge -p \

# Restart the virtual machine (you delete the instance!):
kubectl delete virtualmachineinstance myvm

# Implicit cascade delete (first deletes the virtual machine and then the virtual machine)
kubectl delete virtualmachine myvm

# Explicit cascade delete (first deletes the virtual machine and then the virtual machine)
kubectl delete virtualmachine myvm --cascade=true

# Orphan delete (The running virtual machine is only detached, not deleted)
# Recreating the virtual machine would lead to the adoption of the virtual machine instance
kubectl delete virtualmachine myvm --cascade=false