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Optimizing KVM/QEMU Windows VMs with Virtio Drivers

Installing Virtio Storage, Network and QXL Display Drivers on KVM/QEMU Windows VMs

If you have ever worked with virtual machines (VMs), you understand the importance of having the right drivers installed. When running KVM/QEMU Windows VMs, it is crucial to install virtio drivers to maximize the VMs’ performance.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of downloading and installing Virtio Storage, Network, and QXL Display drivers to your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs.

Downloading the Virtio Windows ISO

The first step in installing Virtio drivers is to download the Virtio Windows ISO. This ISO contains the Virtio drivers required to optimize the performance of your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs. You can download the ISO from the official Virtio website or from the website of your KVM/QEMU distribution.

Adding the Virtio ISO to the VM

Once you have downloaded the Virtio Windows ISO, the next step is to add the ISO to the VM. You can add the ISO to the KVM ISO pool, which allows you to access it from all the VMs running on the KVM host.

Alternatively, you can add the ISO to the VM’s CDROM device.

Installing Virtio Storage Driver

The Virtio Storage driver is essential in ensuring that your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs have optimal storage performance. To install the Virtio Storage driver, follow these steps:

1.

In Windows, open the Device Manager by pressing the Windows key + X and selecting Device Manager from the menu. 2.

Locate the SCSI controllers section and click on the entry for your Windows Storage device. This entry will likely be labeled with the name of your VM storage disk.

3. Right-click on the entry and select “Update driver.”

4.

In the driver update wizard, select “Browse my computer for driver software.”

5. Browse to the location of the Virtio ISO and navigate to the folder for the Windows version you are running.

Select the virtio-win.iso.vfd file and click “Next.”

6. The Windows installer will load the Virtio drivers.

Select the “Red Hat VirtIO SCSI controller” driver and click “Next.”

7. You may receive a warning that the driver is not signed.

Click “Install anyway” to continue the installation. 8.

After the driver is installed, you will need to reboot the VM to complete the installation.

Installing Virtio Network Driver

The Virtio Network driver is essential in ensuring that your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs have optimal network performance. To install the Virtio Network driver, follow these steps:

1.

In Windows, open the Device Manager by pressing the Windows key + X and selecting Device Manager from the menu. 2.

Locate the Network adapters section and click on the entry for your virtual NIC. 3.

Right-click on the entry and select “Update driver.”

4. In the driver update wizard, select “Browse my computer for driver software.”

5.

Browse to the location of the Virtio ISO and navigate to the folder for the Windows version you are running. Select the virtio-win.iso.vfd file and click “Next.”

6.

The Windows installer will load the Virtio drivers. Select the “Red Hat VirtIO Ethernet Adapter” driver and click “Next.”

7.

You may receive a warning that the driver is not signed. Click “Install anyway” to continue the installation.

8. After the driver is installed, you will need to reboot the VM to complete the installation.

Installing QXL Display Driver

The QXL Display driver is essential in ensuring that your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs have optimal graphics performance. To install the QXL Display driver, follow these steps:

1.

In Windows, open the Device Manager by pressing the Windows key + X and selecting Device Manager from the menu. 2.

Locate the Display adapters section and click on the entry for your virtual graphics adapter. 3.

Right-click on the entry and select “Update driver.”

4. In the driver update wizard, select “Browse my computer for driver software.”

5.

Browse to the location of the Virtio ISO and navigate to the folder for the Windows version you are running. Select the virtio-win.iso.vfd file and click “Next.”

6.

The Windows installer will load the Virtio drivers. Select the “QXL display driver for Windows” driver and click “Next.”

7.

You may receive a warning that the driver is not signed. Click “Install anyway” to continue the installation.

8. After the driver is installed, you will need to reboot the VM to complete the installation.

Setting up CDROM Devices for Virtio Drivers

If you have a new KVM/QEMU Windows VM, you need to configure it to access the Virtio Windows ISO. You can create a CDROM device for Windows installation or Virtio driver installation.

Here’s how:

Adding a CDROM Device for Windows Installation

1. Open the VM configuration file.

2. Under “Devices,” add a new “CD-ROM” device.

3. In the “Source” section, set the “Dev” parameter to “hda.”

4.

In the “Source” section, set the “File” parameter to the path to the Windows installation ISO.

Adding a CDROM Device for Virtio Driver Installation

1. In the VM console window, log in as an administrator.

2. Mount the Virtio ISO by running the following command: mount /dev/cdrom /mnt

3.

Navigate to the appropriate version’s folder and find the required driver. 4.

Copy the driver files to a safe location in the VM. 5.

In the VM configuration file, add a new “CD-ROM” device. 6.

In the “Source” section, set the “Dev” parameter to “hdb.”

7. In the “Source” section, set the “File” parameter to the path to the virtio-win.iso file in the VM.

Final Thoughts

Optimizing the performance of your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs is crucial to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity. Appropriate Virtio drivers installation is a crucial step in ensuring the best performance from your virtual machines.

In this article, we have comprehensively explained how to download and install the Virtio Storage, Network and QXL Display drivers on your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs. These instructions will help you set up CDROM devices for Windows installation and Virtio driver installation. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your VMs have optimal storage, network, and graphics performance.

Configuring Device Settings for Virtio Drivers

In addition to installing Virtio drivers on your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs, it is also important to configure device settings to enable Virtio hardware acceleration. By changing the disk bus to Virtio and the network device model to Virtio, you can ensure that your VMs are running at optimal performance.

In this section, we will guide you through the process of configuring device settings for Virtio drivers.

Changing Disk Bus to Virtio

By default, Windows VMs use the IDE or SCSI disk bus to access storage. However, using the Virtio interface provides better performance as it is optimized for virtualization scenarios.

To change the disk bus to Virtio, follow these steps:

1. Shut down the Windows VM.

2. Open the VM configuration file.

3. In the “Disk” section, change the “bus” parameter to “virtio.”

4.

Save the configuration file and start the VM. 5.

Once the VM has booted, open the Device Manager. 6.

Locate the entry for your storage device and check whether it is using the Virtio Storage driver. 7.

If the storage device is not using the Virtio Storage driver, update the driver by following the instructions outlined in the first section of this article.

Changing Network Device Model to Virtio

Similar to changing the disk bus to Virtio, changing the network device model to Virtio also provides better performance in Windows VMs.

To change the network device model to Virtio, follow these steps:

1. Shut down the Windows VM.

2. Open the VM configuration file.

3. In the “Network” section, change the “model” parameter to “virtio.”

4.

Save the configuration file and start the VM. 5.

Once the VM has booted, open the Device Manager. 6.

Locate the entry for your network device and check whether it is using the Virtio Network driver. 7.

If the network device is not using the Virtio Network driver, update the driver by following the instructions outlined in the second section of this article.

Final Thoughts

Configuring device settings for Virtio drivers is essential to ensure that your KVM/QEMU Windows VMs are running at their optimal performance. By switching the disk bus to Virtio and the network device model to Virtio, you can achieve better storage and network performance.

These configuration changes will also allow your VMs to take full advantage of the Virtio drivers that you have previously installed. Following these steps will result in a faster and more efficient virtualization environment, which is crucial for any organization that uses Windows VMs on a regular basis.

In this comprehensive article, we have discussed the importance of installing Virtio drivers and configuring device settings for optimal performance of KVM/QEMU Windows VMs. We have outlined step-by-step instructions for downloading and installing the Virtio Storage, Network, and QXL Display drivers, as well as the process of setting up CDROM devices for Virtio driver installation. We have also explored how changing the disk bus to Virtio and network device model to Virtio can further enhance the performance of your VMs. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your virtualization environment is more efficient and productive, which is crucial for any organization that uses Windows VMs regularly.

The takeaways from this article include the critical nature of Virtio drivers, the benefits of configuring device settings for hardware acceleration, and the importance of optimized virtualization for productivity.

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