What VM-creation software do you recommend for the Linux Desktop?

I’m using LMDE5 (a Debian 11 derivative), which has the Cinnamon desktop. I want to create a few VMs to do some linux testing of other distros. I’m not creating any Windows VMs, just Linux.

I want an easy-to-install, easy-to-use desktop VM solution. I want to:

  • easily create VMs in a GUI (not some arcane text file which I edit, and defines a VM that I want created)
  • easily install the guest additions necessary to get faster hardware performance - especially disk - inside the VMs. Having said this, do I need a Desktop environment inside those guest VMs? No, not necessarily. I’m content to use the CLI within the guest VMs. So that simplifies things.
  • back them up, while they’re offline (just by copying a single folder)

I have past experience with Oracle Virtualbox, and VMware Workstation, and disliked both of them. Last time I tried Gnome “Boxes”, it was really immature.

Are there any good VM apps satisfying the above that you’d recommend?

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I’ve had a very good experience with virt-manager for several years.

It includes spice as the default VM viewer, to get clipboard sharing and auto-resize install the following in the guest:

apt/dnf/yum install spice-vdagent

Restart the vm (thanks @esbeeb) and in the spice window check: view > scale display > auto-resize…

Note: auto-resize doesn’t work on some X11 desktops, guide to get around that here: Auto resizing Xfce and MATE resolution in Spice (VM guide)


What I love about KVM (virt-manager) is that there are tools for remote management, meaning you to configure the VM settings remotely.

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I would go with QEMU & virt-manager if your running it from your PC.
Or if you have an extra PC you could dedicate maybe try TrueNas scale or ProxMox for the full on type 1 hypervisor

I gave it a try (virt-manager 3.2.0-3, spice-client-gtk 0.39-1, these are normal Debian 11 packages). When creating a new VM, it was difficult to comprehend how to attach a debian install .iso as a Virtual CD drive.

I found a tutorial here, which solved it:

PS: when the tutorial urged me to start manually editing /etc/network/interfaces, that’s where I quit following the tutorial. I noticed that a new network interface “virbr0” does get created earlier on. I cleverly used that interface name, when setting up bridged networking for my VM. An average user would certainly have a hard time knowing to find that “virbr0” interface and specifying it for the network interface (of type “Bridged”).

Definitely not very user-friendly, but I got by.

Thanks for the tips. I guess for free software, you get what you get. :wink:


I used the LXQT desktop in Debian 11 in a guest VM. A reboot ended up being necessary, not just logging out and back in.

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Editted post and updated guide, thank you. I checked ye’ old notes and it’s a general thing.

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I use qemu-desktop with KVM, and libvirt to manage the Virtual machines. I use virt-manager as a GUI frontend for libvirt and I’ve always been able to use these with no hitches (at least no memorable ones).


The best is Virtualbox and I use it since 2009. It is easy to use, it has an good performance especially, since it uses the vmware 3d video drivers. Official up-to-date drivers for Windows and Linux guests are part of the Virtualbox package. I run Linux games like SuperTuxKart and Extreme Tux Racer in a VM with ~75% load on the iGPU (1080p; 60Hz). It boots the Xubuntu VM in 5.5 seconds, the average for Linux VMs is 8 to 10 seconds. The bloated Windows 11 Pro VM boots the first time in ~40 seconds and afterwards in 22 seconds according to IObit Advanced SystemCare.

I tried virt-manager a few times, but some options do not work and the video performance is bad, last time I tried it 3D video did not work on my PC. I tried Boxes and I like it, in combination with virt-manager it might be useful. Probably I will not convert my ~70 VMs too much hassle and no real advantages.

My system is the 2nd slowest Ryzen CPU available; the Ryzen 3 2200G (4C4T, 3.7GHz OC); 16GB DDR4 (3000MHz); 512GB Silicon Power nvme (3400/2300MB/s). The Host runs a minimal install of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS using OpenZFS with a 4GB L1ARC (memory cache). Note that storage and caches are lz4 compressed. My L1ARC hit rate is 99%.

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I’ve tried Boxes, virt-manager and VirtualBox and find all of them have various uses, though it’s VirtualBox I use the most.

Now that I’ve spent a couple of weeks getting to know virt-manager, I’m happy with it, and will very likely never return to Virtualbox or VMware.

That initial learning curve - with attaching the installation .iso and configuring the virtual networking - those were the only difficulties to speak of.

I was happy with how snapshots worked, and used that quite a few times (creating, rolling back, deleting, editing notes). The snapshots worked like a charm. The UI for managing them was very well designed. That’s a feature which means a lot to me.