I'm new to KVM. I'm preparing an instance of pfSense in KVM; running this gets me close but is not completely working:

virt-install \
    --name pfsense \
    --os-variant freebsd11.2 \
    --virt-type kvm \
    --hvm \
    --vcpus 2 \
    --memory 2048 \
    --graphics none \
    --boot hd \
    --disk format=raw,readonly=on,path=/var/lib/libvirt/boot/pfSense-CE-memstick-serial-2.4.4-RELEASE-p1-amd64.img \
    --disk size=16,bus=virtio \

The above did run successfully with an interactive textual terminal, but the ASCII art used by the installer was all wrong (line art was replaced by latin letters, mostly "q"). I'm considering the following additional arguments to accommodate a simple, text-mode-only installation, with keyboard and screen attached directly to the host:

  • --boot useserial=on
  • --extra-args 'console=ttyS0'
  • --serial pipe or --serial pty
  • --channel pipe or --channel pty
  • --console pty,target_type=virtio
  • Omit --noautoconsole


KVM Guest installed from console. But how to get to the guest's console? - Does require a text terminal, but doesn't go into detail on the above options, nor is it about pfSense.


  • What is the difference between --serial, --channel, --console and --extra-args 'console=ttyS0', particularly what they do to the host versus guest?
  • What combination of them would be most appropriate to use for a pfSense guest?
  • How do I fix the ASCII art rendering issue?
  • 1
    Does the pfSense ISO even do serial console at all? I thought only the memstick-serial media did. – Michael Hampton Feb 11 '19 at 3:43
  • @MichaelHampton I can't tell, so I'm switching to memstick-serial - along with replacing --cdrom with --location, and --paravirt with --hvm by necessity. – Reinderien Feb 11 '19 at 16:29
  • @MichaelHampton I did end up switching to memstick-serial, but rather than location I ended up needing to use disk. That part works but the serial connection is still a little wonky. – Reinderien Feb 11 '19 at 18:18
  • Have you considered just doing a normal installation and setting up the serial console later (or not at all)? – Michael Hampton Feb 11 '19 at 20:39
  • 1
    Unfortunately this environment is long gone 😔 – Reinderien Nov 9 '20 at 15:14

I am using this configuration for start pfsense installation in KVM (qemu):

virt-install --hvm --connect qemu:///system --network type=direct,source=p1p1,source_mode=bridge --mac=52:54:00:13:aa:f0 --network type=direct,source=p1p2,source_mode=bridge --mac=52:54:00:13:aa:f1 --network type=direct,source=p1p2,source_mode=bridge --mac=52:54:00:13:aa:f2 --name fw-01.juvie.org --ram=2048 --vcpus=2 --cpu=kvm64 --os-type=freebsd --os-variant=freebsd11.0 --disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/iso/pfSense-CE-memstick-serial-2.4.5-RELEASE-amd64.img --boot hd,menu=on,useserial=on  --disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/production_adata/fw-01.juvie.org.qcow2,size=20 --graphics none --console target_type=serial

Maybe it will be help for you.

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