a distributed VM management tool

Installing minimega

Obtaining minimega

There are two ways to get minimega: by downloading a pre-compiled binary distribution, or by building from source yourself. Using a binary distribution is more convenient, but building from source means you can get the most up-to-date development version if desired.

Binary distribution

minimega is available as a prebuilt, x86-64 debian package, or as a standalone tarball. The debian package is known to work on debian 7-9. The latest debian release, debian 10 (buster), is known not to work.

Current, stable release: minimega-2.7.deb

For other x86-64 systems, use the prebuilt tarball: minimega-2.7.tar.bz2

Simply unpack minimega and run it from the top level directory:

$ tar xjf minimega.tar.bz2 && cd minimega
$ ./bin/minimega

You may find it convenient to place the minimega directory in /opt.

For previous versions of minimega, visit our downloads page

Building from source

To build from source you will need Go (version 1.10 or 1.11) and libpcap headers. On a Debian-type system, you can install compile-time dependencies with:

$ apt-get install libpcap-dev

Having installed the dependencies, grab the minimega source:

$ git clone
$ cd minimega

Next, check out the 2.7 release. If you wish to run the development version ("tip") of minimega, skip this command.

$ git checkout 2.7

Finally, compile minimega:

$ ./all.bash

This will build and test each of the libraries and tools in the minimega distribution and create a bin/ sudirectory containing each of the minimega tools. If you have a Windows cross compiler for Go set up, it will also build windows binaries of several tools.

Deploying minimega

minimega is a single binary and needs no configuration files. However, because minimega makes use of external programs, you'll need to have some things installed--see the section "System requirements and runtime dependencies" below.

To deploy minimega to any number of nodes, simply copy the binary to each node. See the usage article for information about launching minimega.

Depending on your cluster configuration, it is also possible to have minimega deploy itself. By launching minimega on a single node, you can use the deploy API which will cause minimega to copy itself and run remotely using ssh on a provided list of nodes. See the API documentation on deploy for more information, or read the article on setting up a cluster.

System requirements and runtime dependencies

minimega is designed to be simple to deploy. It has only one runtime dependency, libpcap, which is included on almost all standard Linux distros.

To launch containers, the kernel must support OverlayFS, which was added in Linux 3.18.

minimega also has a number of external tools it executes. When you start minimega, it will check to see if each of the tools it may need are available in $PATH. Depending on your intended use case, you may not need every single external program.

If you plan to launch and maintain VMs, you'll need the following programs at a minimum:

  • kvm - qemu-kvm with the kvm kernel module loaded (minimum version 1.6)
  • ip - ip tool for manipulating devices
  • ovs-vsctl - Open vSwitch switch control with daemon running and kernel module loaded (minimum version 1.11)
  • ovs-ofctl - Open vSwitch openflow control with daemon running and kernel module loaded

We also recommend installing the following; they are not strictly necessary for basic VM use but are required for some more advanced operations:

  • dhclient - dhcp client
  • dnsmasq - DNS and DHCP server (minimum version 2.73)
  • qemu-nbd/qemu-img - tool for interacting with qemu disk images (in the Debian package "qemu-tools")
  • mkdosfs - used when creating router images
  • taskset - set CPU affinity for VMs
  • ntfs-3g - NTFS with write support for injecting files into NTFS images
  • ssh/scp - used to deploy minimega to other nodes in a cluster
  • tc - used by QoS API to set latency and bandwidth for VMs

The following debian packages should install most of the dependencies:

openvswitch-switch qemu-kvm qemu-utils dnsmasq ntfs-3g iproute

Grub note

If you intend to run Linux containers, you need to have the memory cgroup enabled, but Debian (and some other distros) do not enable it by default. If you try to start a container and get an error, you may need to enable the memory cgroup.

To enable it, add the following to your kernel boot parameters:


On Debian, you can do this by opening /etc/default/grub and adding that parameter to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT line. It should end up looking something like this:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet cgroup_enable=memory"

Then run update-grub and reboot for the change to take effect.

Getting help

The mailing list is the primary resource for both developers and users.


The minimega authors

21 Sep 2017