I am trying to set up a Ubuntu server VM (CLI only) on a Debian host (CLI only) using virt-install (version 1.0.1).

But following install:

sudo virt-install --name=<name> --disk path=/home/locadm/kvm/images/ubuntu/bionic-image1.img,format=raw,device=disk,bus=virtio,cache=none --memory=1024 --vcpu=1 --cdrom=./ubuntu-18.04.4-live-server-amd64.iso

I get:

WARNING CDROM media does not print to the text console by default, so you likely will not see text install output. You might want to use --location. Starting install... Creating domain... | 0 B 00:00 Connected to domain Escape character is ^]

There is no response to any keyboard input (except the escape command). I used this when creating the VM:


From what i've read I could instead use:

--location=<URL PATH TO INSTALLER> \ --extra-args console=ttyS0

(which may resolve the issue)

but the problem is I have no internet connection so cannot use a url. I have tried mounting the iso file and specifying that as a location but that failed.

  • You did use "--cdrom=<LOCAL PATH TO ISO> --extra-args console=ttyS0" ? Apr 21, 2020 at 17:20
  • Sorry rephrased
    – 2one
    Apr 21, 2020 at 19:45
  • And you've started the VM ? Apr 21, 2020 at 20:04
  • virsh list indicates the vm is running but then I'd need to log in a install. Is there another option other than the virsh console?
    – 2one
    Apr 22, 2020 at 8:02
  • 1
    Can you document your installation command? Perhaps also the output you got from it and from "virsh list" ? Apr 22, 2020 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


I decided to give up on Ubuntu for the time being although this solution would probably work for a ubuntu iso also.

I did the following:

  1. Create disk:

qemu-img create -f raw disk.img +2G

  1. Download netinst VM iso from here:


i.e. I copied the file https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/amd64/iso-cd/debian-10.3.0-amd64-netinst.iso to the VM host.

  1. VM setup

virt-install --accelerate --hvm --connect qemu:///system --cdrom debian-10.3.0-amd64-netinst.iso --name <vm_name> --ram 256 --disk path=disk.img,size=3 --vnc

  1. On a Windows 10 machine (on the same network) I set up a SSH tunnel (using Putty / Powershell) for VNC to my new VM:

ssh -N -T <username>@<vm_host_machine> -L 5900: -v

I worked out that the port for my new VM was 5906 using the following command on the VM host:

virsh vncdisplay <vm_name>

  1. Back on Windows 10 machine:

I opened "VNC Viewer" and created a new vnc server connection (File > New connection) to "localhost:5900" and voila a GUI with the Debian installer for my new VM popped up!

Convoluted but it works.

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