This error message shows:
libvirt is working;
The QEMU process failed to start up; and
libvirt quits when trying to connect QEMU or the QEMU agent monitor socket.
To understand the error details, examine the guest log:
# cat /var/log/libvirt/qemu/name_of_guest.log
LC_ALL=C PATH=/sbin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin QEMU_AUDIO_DRV=none /usr/bin/qemu-kvm -S -M pc -enable-kvm -m 768 -smp 1,sockets=1,cores=1,threads=1 -name name_of_guest -uuid ebfaadbe-e908-ba92-fdb8-3fa2db557a42 -nodefaults -chardev socket,id=monitor,path=/var/lib/libvirt/qemu/name_of_guest.monitor,server,nowait -mon chardev=monitor,mode=readline -no-reboot -boot c -kernel /var/lib/libvirt/boot/vmlinuz -initrd /var/lib/libvirt/boot/initrd.img -append method=http://www.example.com/pub/product/release/version/x86_64/os/ -drive file=/var/lib/libvirt/images/name_of_guest.img,if=none,id=drive-ide0-0-0,boot=on -device ide-drive,bus=ide.0,unit=0,drive=drive-ide0-0-0,id=ide0-0-0 -device virtio-net-pci,vlan=0,id=net0,mac=52:40:00:f4:f1:0a,bus=pci.0,addr=0x4 -net tap,fd=42,vlan=0,name=hostnet0 -chardev pty,id=serial0 -device isa-serial,chardev=serial0 -usb -vnc 127.0.0.1:0 -k en-gb -vga cirrus -device virtio-balloon-pci,id=balloon0,bus=pci.0,
char device redirected to /dev/pts/1
qemu: could not load kernel '/var/lib/libvirt/boot/vmlinuz':
The guest log contains the details needed to fix the error.
If a host is shut down while the guest is still running a libvirt version prior to 0.9.5, the libvirt-guest's init script attempts to perform a managed save of the guest. If the managed save was incomplete (for example, due to loss of power before the managed save image was flushed to disk), the save image is corrupted and will not be loaded by QEMU. The older version of libvirt does not recognize the corruption, making the problem perpetual. In this case, the guest log will show an attempt to use
-incoming as one of its arguments, meaning that libvirt is trying to start QEMU by migrating in the saved state file.
This problem can be fixed by running
virsh managedsave-remove name_of_guest to remove the corrupted managed save image. Newer versions of libvirt take steps to avoid the corruption in the first place, as well as adding
virsh start --force-boot name_of_guest to bypass any managed save image.