Emulating Haiku in KVM

For Google Code-In 2019, Vrondir created a video on how to install Haiku in KVM [79 MiB].

Virtual instances of operating systems are perfect for all kinds of testing purposes that need to be done in a safe and isolated environment. Therefore, installing Haiku in a virtual machine is an ideal solution for people who do not want to install it on their physical computers but want to become familiar with it.

This guide was tested extensively in a Manjaro Linux installation, but it should work on any distribution of Linux that can run KVM.

In this guide, we will be using a nightly anyboot image because nightlies contain the latest Haiku changes - it can be obtained here. We recommend using the official release of Haiku for stability.

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Installing KVM

Ubuntu Linux/Debian

If you are using Ubuntu or generally more traditional Debian-based Linux distributions, you will need to run the following commands:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-daemon-system libvirt-clients virt-manager

In older versions (Ubuntu 18.04, Debian Stretch or older), you will need to run these commands instead:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin virt-manager

To start libvirtd at boot, enter the following command in the terminal:

sudo systemctl enable --now libvirtd

Arch Linux

If you are using Arch Linux, you should enter the following commands in the terminal:

sudo pacman -Syu qemu virt-manager

Make sure to enable libvirtd, which is not enabled by default:

sudo systemctl enable --now libvirtd

Installing and running Haiku from an anyboot image

Once the archive with the anyboot image is downloaded and unpacked, you can start the installation.

First, create a new virtual machine.


Secondly, choose the method of OS installation, which should be Local install media in our case. Then, click Forward


Find the anyboot image you have decompressed and select the operating system you are installing. virt-manager can detect the operating system you’re attempting to install. Although virt-manager can detect the operating system you’re attempting to install under normal circumstances, it may be unable to do so. In that case, just uncheck the Automatically detect checkbox and just type in the OS name. Then, click Forward


You can now choose the memory and CPU settings. What you should select here, depends on the system you have. It is better to assign more than 384 MiB of RAM for smooth running; too much, on the other hand, may cause a lag for the host. Once again, after choosing your desired memory size and CPU, click Forward


You can also adjust the size of the disk image. When done, click Forward


Name the virtual machine, verify the settings of your virtual machine, click Finish


A popup saying Virtual Network is not active may appear. Don’t worry, it’s just asking you to enable the 'default' network. Just click Yes and everything should be fine. If this goes wrong, consult the Troubleshooting section. The VM will now boot the Haiku image file. You can choose to install Haiku or boot to the desktop. Installation is simple and does not differ significantly from a physical one (follow the guides on this page if you are not familiar with the installation process).


After finishing the installation of your VM, if you run into an error that says Unable to complete install: network default is not active or something along those lines, make sure that libvirtd is running by entering sudo systemctl start libvirtd in terminal. If the error still occurs do the following steps:

Step 1. Check if you have a defined network by running:
sudo virsh net-list --all
  • If you don’t have a defined network, the output will look like this:
Name                 State      Autostart     Persistent
  • If you do have a defined network, the output will look like this:
 Name      State      Autostart   Persistent
 default   inactive   no          yes

Skip to Step 3 if your output does look like this.

Step 2. Define the 'default' network by copy-pasting the following lines into a file called default.xml:
  <forward mode='nat'/>
  <bridge name='virbr0' stp='on' delay='0'/>
  <mac address='52:54:00:0a:cd:21'/>
  <ip address='' netmask=''>
      <range start='' end=''/>

Run the following to add that network permanently to the KVM host:

sudo virsh net-define --file default.xml
Step 3. To manually start the network, run:
sudo virsh net-start default

There’s a chance that you may receive the following error when you run the aforementioned command:

$ sudo virsh net-start default
error: Failed to start network default
error: internal error: Failed to initialize a valid firewall backend

To fix that, you will need to install firewalld.

After installing the package, run the following commands to enable the service and make networking work again:

sudo systemctl enable --now firewalld
sudo systemctl restart libvirtd

If you want your virtual network to start automatically in the future, run the following command:

sudo virsh net-autostart --network default

Running sudo virsh net-list -all should now return the following:

 Name      State      Autostart   Persistent
 default   inactive   yes         yes