Terraform is a well-known open-source infrastructure as code (IaC) tool developed by HashiCorp. It allows users to define and provision infrastructure using a declarative configuration language. In homelab environment, it can also interacts with Linux libvirt hypervisor with the help of a third-party provider. This greatly simplifies the homelab VM management with a unified IaC language that can also be used to provision resources on public cloud like AWS, Azure and GCP. In this post, I will briefly introduce how to install libvirt on major Linux distros, and how to use terraform to interact with libvirt to create/provision VMs.

Install libvirt

For Ubuntu,

sudo apt install qemu-kvm libvirt-daemon-system genisoimage
sudo apt install virt-manager

For CentOS like,

sudo yum module install virt
sudo yum install virt-install virt-viewer
sudo systemctl start libvirtd

After installation, virt-host-validate helps to verify the system is prepared to be a virtualization host.

To manage virtual machines without sudo, make sure the user is added to the group libvirt.

sudo adduser $USER libvirt

virsh is the command line utility to manage VMs. Common use cases include:

  • List running VMs: virsh list
  • Start, shutdown, reboot VMs
  • Delete VM: virsh undefine <VM name>

In my use cases, virsh is used mainly to monitor the VMs. In most situations I prefer to provision VMs with Terraform.


To install terraform, simply download the binary (https://developer.hashicorp.com/terraform/install) and place the executable at a location available on your $PATH. The official website also have a list of tutorials to cover the basics of terraform.

For libvirt provider, a template configuration file I used to create VMs is shown below.

terraform {
  required_providers {
    libvirt = {
      source = "dmacvicar/libvirt"

provider "libvirt" {
  uri = "qemu:///system"

locals {
  vm_name = "dev1"
  ip_addr = ""

resource "libvirt_pool" "server_pool" {
  name = "pool-${local.vm_name}"
  type = "dir"
  path = "/home/yeguang/libvirt_pool/pool-${local.vm_name}"

resource "libvirt_volume" "ubuntu_base" {
  name   = "ubuntu.qcow2"
  pool   = libvirt_pool.server_pool.name
  source = "${path.module}/jammy-server-cloudimg-amd64.img"
  format = "qcow2"

resource "libvirt_volume" "server_disk" {
  name           = "disk.qcow2"
  size           = 10740000000
  pool           = libvirt_pool.server_pool.name
  base_volume_id = libvirt_volume.ubuntu_base.id

resource "libvirt_cloudinit_disk" "commoninit" {
  name           = "commoninit.iso"
  user_data      = templatefile("${path.module}/config/cloud_init.cfg", { hostname = local.vm_name })
  network_config = templatefile("${path.module}/config/network_config.cfg", { ip_addr = local.ip_addr })
  pool           = libvirt_pool.server_pool.name

resource "libvirt_domain" "vm" {
  name      = local.vm_name
  memory    = "8192"
  vcpu      = 4
  cloudinit = libvirt_cloudinit_disk.commoninit.id

  cpu {
    mode = "host-passthrough"

  disk {
    volume_id = libvirt_volume.server_disk.id
    scsi      = "true"

  network_interface {
    bridge = "virbr0"

  console {
    type        = "pty"
    target_type = "serial"
    target_port = "0"

cloud_init.cfg is used to initialize users, groups, and ssh_authorized_keys. Some examples can be found here: https://cloudinit.readthedocs.io/en/latest/reference/examples.html

network_config.cfg is used to initialize network interfaces. The template I use is the following:

version: 2
      name: en*
    dhcp4: no
    optional: true
    addresses: [${ip_addr}/24]
      addresses: []

Note in terraform I used templatefile function to reuse the same network_config.cfg when provisioning multiple VMs.

After cd into the folder, terraform init will install the required provider plugin dmacvicar/libvirt. To apply the config and create VM, first preview the changes with terraform plan. Once OK with the changes, simply apply the config:

terraform apply

To destroy all the resources, just use terraform destroy.


  1. https://ubuntu.com/server/docs/virtualization-libvirt
  2. https://developer.hashicorp.com/terraform/tutorials
  3. https://registry.terraform.io/providers/dmacvicar/libvirt/latest/docs
  4. https://github.com/dmacvicar/terraform-provider-libvirt/issues/546