Chapitre 13. Managing virtual devices

One of the most effective ways to manage the functionality, features, and performance of a virtual machine (VM) is to adjust its virtual devices.

The following sections provide a general overview of what virtual devices are, and instructions on how to manage them using the CLI or the web console.

13.1. How virtual devices work

Just like physical machines, virtual machines (VMs) require specialized devices to provide functions to the system, such as processing power, memory, storage, networking, or graphics. Physical systems usually use hardware devices for these purposes. However, because VMs work as software implements, they need to use software abstractions of such devices instead, referred to as virtual devices.

The basics

Virtual devices attached to a VM can be configured when creating the VM, and can also be managed on an existing VM. Generally, virtual devices can be attached or detached from a VM only when the VM is shut off, but some can be added or removed when the VM is running. This feature is referred to as device hot plug and hot unplug.

When creating a new VM, libvirt automatically creates and configures a default set of essential virtual devices, unless specified otherwise by the user. These are based on the host system architecture and machine type, and usually include:

  • the CPU
  • memory
  • a keyboard
  • a network interface controller (NIC)
  • various device controllers
  • a video card
  • a sound card

To manage virtual devices after the VM is created, use the command-line interface (CLI). However, to manage virtual storage devices and NICs, you can also use the RHEL 9 web console.

Performance or flexibility

For some types of devices, RHEL 9 supports multiple implementations, often with a trade-off between performance and flexibility.

For example, the physical storage used for virtual disks can be represented by files in various formats, such as qcow2 or raw, and presented to the VM using a variety of controllers:

  • an emulated controller
  • virtio-scsi
  • virtio-blk

An emulated controller is slower than a virtio controller, because virtio devices are designed specifically for virtualization purposes. On the other hand, emulated controllers make it possible to run operating systems that have no drivers for virtio devices. Similarly, virtio-scsi offers a more complete support for SCSI commands, and makes it possible to attach a larger number of disks to the VM. Finally, virtio-blk provides better performance than both virtio-scsi and emulated controllers, but a more limited range of use-cases. For example, attaching a physical disk as a LUN device to a VM is not possible when using virtio-blk.

For more information on types of virtual devices, see Types of virtual devices.