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How to identify that Linux is running as a Virtual Machine?

tuxFor troubleshooting or in scripts you might want to identify if you Linux is running as a Virtual Machine. If you work with puppet you might be familiar with facter which provides the facts "is_virtual" (true or false) and "virtual" (Virtualization type).

There is another handy tool called virt-what that is available in Fedora (13+), Red Hat Enterprise Linux (5.7+ and 6.1+), Debian, Ubuntu, ArchLinux and Gentoo, and it can be compiled from source on just about any Linux.

virt-what is a shell script which can be used to detect if the program is running in a virtual machine. The program prints out a list of facts about the virtual machine, derived from heuristics. One fact is printed per line.

Example 1: Ubuntu 12.04.5 LTS, running on ESXi 5.5:

root@mail01:~# virt-what

In that case, the system is running on a VMware based Hypervisor (ESXi/Workstation/Fusion)

If there is no output and the script exits with code 0 the systen is either running on bare-metal or the hypervizor cannot be detected.

Example 2: Raspbian GNU/Linux 7 running on Raspberry Pi:

root@raspberrypi:~# virt-what
root@raspberrypi:~# echo $?

In scripts virt-what can also be handy when you want a functions to be only executed when the system is running as a virtual machine. This little snippet can be used to run your code only when the virtual machine is running on a VMware based hypervisor:

/usr/sbin/virt-what | grep 'vmware' &> /dev/null
if [ $? == 0 ]; then
  echo "VMware detected"
  #do something

The script can detect the following hypervisor types:

  • hyperv: Microsoft Hyper-V
  • ibm_systemz: IBM SystemZ
  • ibm_systemz-zvm: z/VM guest in a LPAR on an IBM SystemZ
  • linux_vserver: Linux VServer container
  • kvm: KVM hypervisor
  • openvz: OpenVZ/Virtuozzo
  • parallels: Parallels Desktop/Parallels Server
  • powervm_lx86: IBM PowerVM Lx86 Linux/x86 emulator
  • qemu: QEMU software emulation
  • uml: User-Mode Linux (UML) guest
  • virtage: Hitachi Virtualization Manager (HVM)
  • virtualbox: VirtualBox guest.
  • virtualpc: Microsoft VirtualPC
  • vmware: VMware ESXi/Workstation/Fusion
  • xen: Xen hypervisor
  • xen-dom0: Xen privileged domain
  • xen-domU: Xen paravirtualized guest domain
  • xen-hvm: Xen guest fully virtualized (HVM)
  • virt: Unspecified Virtualization

2 thoughts on “How to identify that Linux is running as a Virtual Machine?”

  1. Pingback: How to hide a Virtual Machine |

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