Is there a way to get the top output from a KVM virtual machine guest from the KVM host? I didn't see a way to get the list of processes using virsh.

I'd really like to know what one of my virtual machines that is being managed by one of my customers is doing. There is high CPU usage, and I'd like to get a snapshot of what's going on in that particular virtual machine from the hypervisor host (it's a Linux guest).

As a more generic question, is there a good way to even monitor what each guest is doing from the host? Packet capturing should be possible, correct? Are there any programs that allow you to monitor and obtain information about the KVM guest from the host without having root access or VNC access to the KVM guest? Because the network operates as a bridge for the guests, would iptables rules applied on the host even affect guests?

It's possible to manage the virtual machine from the host (reboot, start, stop, etc), but what about monitoring what's going on in the guests themselves from the host?

Any help is appreciated.

  • 1
    It's pretty much a black box. If this is causing a problem, have a chat with the customer. Sep 11, 2016 at 0:29
  • Once you hand the machine over to the customer you (should) loose all visibility as to what is happening inside it.
    – user9517
    Sep 11, 2016 at 17:05

2 Answers 2


The VM is a separate machine, you can, from the host, see how much CPU/RAM/disk it utilizes (from the hosts's point of view of course), but you will not get in-guest details from the host, for that you need to monitor the guest. The whole point of virtualization is this segregation, otherwise, imagine amazon could get into your machines in AWS without your consent, would you like that?

  • No, but it would sure be nice if I could figure out for them which process is using too much CPU and let them know about it as oppose to a generic message of "fix it", but I get it. Thanks for the explanation.
    – OwN
    Sep 20, 2016 at 13:06
  • It would be nice, and with containers you can do that. But as I said, full VMs don't work like that
    – dyasny
    Sep 20, 2016 at 13:19

Only container virtualization like OpenVZ or LXC can be monitored directly from your host. You have to use additional software for KVM or VMware.

You should try Proxmox to manage easily your KVM VM.

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