|13 Nov 2023
|13 Nov 2023
This guide is intended to get you up and running with this tool quickly with the most common settings. For a thorough review of all options, refer to the official documentation.
A computer running macOS with Apple Silicon or an Arm Linux computer with KVM enabled is required to complete the installation.
Multipass provides cloud style virtual machines (VMs). Multipass is popular among developers for efficient, local testing. When run on macOS with Apple Silicon or on Linux with a Raspberry Pi 5, Multipass provides a similar experience to cloud instances. A local, software compatible equivalent of an Arm cloud instance on your desk with good performance is an important option for developers.
Multipass provides a clear CLI to easily start virtual machine instances, do development tasks, and clean the VMs from your computer.
Multipass runs on a variety of platforms and host operating systems. The information below covers running Multipass on macOS with Apple Silicon and Arm Linux with the goal of creating a compatible Ubuntu Linux environment for developers working on cloud instances.
Multipass uses the terms virtual machine and instance synonymously.
Download Multipass for macOS.
Install the download using the package command.
sudo installer -pkg multipass-1.12.0+mac-Darwin.pkg -target /
The getting started instructions below use the command line interface. Multipass installs a tray icon for those who want to access basic features from the user interface.
Multipass is now installed. Proceed to Get Started with Multipass .
Multipass can be used on Arm Linux computers such as the Raspberry Pi 5.
Running Multipass on Linux requires the KVM hypervisor. KVM does not typically work on virtual machines, it requires bare metal.
The instructions have been tested on a Raspberry Pi 5 running Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu.
Install and run the
kvm-ok command to confirm KVM is available.
kvm-ok on Debian based Linux distributions using:
sudo apt install cpu-checker -y
To check if KVM is available run:
If KVM is available the output will be similar to:
INFO: /dev/kvm exists
KVM acceleration can be used
If KVM is not available the output will be similar to:
INFO: /dev/kvm does not exist
HINT: sudo modprobe kvm
INFO: For more detailed results, you should run this as root
HINT: sudo /usr/sbin/kvm-ok
If KVM is available, proceed with the install.
You may need to install the Snap daemon,
snapd, before installing Multipass.
If you are not sure if it is running, execute the command:
If the command is found and version information is printed, then
snapd is running.
If you need to install
sudo apt install snapd -y
LXD is also required for Multipass.
sudo snap install lxd
You can select from three Multipass releases: stable, beta, or edge. The default version is stable.
--edge to the install command below to select these more recent versions.
sudo snap install multipass
Multipass is now installed.
To confirm multipass is installed run the
multipass command is not found, you can add
/snap/bin to the Bash search path using:
Multipass runs Ubuntu images. The last three LTS (long-term support) versions are available. A Docker environment with Portainer is also available as well as a few other images.
To see the available images run the
find command. Any of the listed images can be used to create a new instance.
The output from
find will be similar to the below.
Image Aliases Version Description
20.04 focal 20231011 Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
22.04 jammy,lts 20231026 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS
23.04 lunar 20231025 Ubuntu 23.04
23.10 mantic,devel 20231011 Ubuntu 23.10
Blueprint Aliases Version Description
anbox-cloud-appliance latest Anbox Cloud Appliance
charm-dev latest A development and testing environment for charmers
docker 0.4 A Docker environment with Portainer and related tools
jellyfin latest Jellyfin is a Free Software Media System that puts you in control of managing and streaming your media.
minikube latest minikube is local Kubernetes
ros-noetic 0.1 A development and testing environment for ROS Noetic.
ros2-humble 0.1 A development and testing environment for ROS 2 Humble.
The default values for launching instances allocate 1 CPU, create a small disk (5 Gb), and limited memory (1 Gb). By default, the name of the instance is automatically assigned.
Most developers are likely to want to modify the defaults.
Use the command below to launch a virtual machine instance with non-default values.
multipass launch lts --name m1u --cpus 4 --disk 16G --memory 4G
Once launched, the command prompt returns and the instance is running in the background.
list command to identify created instances. Make note of the instance names as the name is used in other commands.
To start a command line shell on a running instance use the
multipass shell m1u
To run a specific command from the host on the instance use the
exec command. The command to be run comes after the
multipass exec m1u -- uname -a
uname output will look similar to:
Linux m1u 5.15.0-58-generic #64-Ubuntu SMP Thu Jan 5 12:06:43 UTC 2023 aarch64 aarch64 aarch64 GNU/Linux
It’s helpful to demonstrate a few other common commands by downloading and installing an application. To demonstrate file copy, the download is done from macOS and the file is copied into the instance.
Download and install OpenVSCode Server .
On the macOS host computer use
wget for the download.
To copy a file to the instance
multipass transfer openvscode-server-v1.79.2-linux-arm64.tar.gz m1u:/home/ubuntu
Now switch to the instance and extract the download and run the application.
If you don’t already have an open shell run.
multipass shell m1u
Extract the download.
tar xvfz openvscode-server-v1.79.2-linux-arm64.tar.gz
Run the application.
./openvscode-server-v1.79.2-linux-arm64/bin/openvscode-server --host=0.0.0.0 --without-connection-token
Connect to OpenVSCode Server using a browser. From the macOS host computer use the
info command to get the IP address of the instance.
info command prints information about the instance, including the IP address.
multipass info m1u
Copy the IP address from the info output and paste it into a browser with port 3000.
Modify the IP address to use your information, for example:
You now have a running VS Code Server in your Multipass instance with Ubuntu 22.04 running on Arm.
To access a large number of files on the host machine without copying or transferring them into the instance use the
mount command. This command makes a host directory visible in the instance and all files can be accessed. Modifications made from inside the instance will directly change the files on the host.
For example, to mount a host directory called
dev and have it appear in the instance use the
multipass mount dev m1u:/home/ubuntu/dev
There are also options to adjust the user and group IDs as needed to avoid permission problems.
umount command to unmount the directory.
multipass umount m1u:/home/ubuntu/dev
Directories can be dynamically mounted and unmounted without stopping the instance.
Multipass instances can be stopped and started quickly.
To stop the instance.
multipass stop m1u
Following the stop the state will change to Stopped on the list command.
To start the instance.
multipass start m1u
Multipass instances are easy to delete. There is one extra level of protection to recover deleted instances before they are fully deleted.
delete command to delete.
multipass delete m1u
After delete, the state will change to Deleted, but it is still recoverable.
multipass recover m1u
purge command to permanently remove all deleted instances.
Purged instances are no longer recoverable.
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