Skip to content

Running SmartOS on OmniOS KVM

Why would you do that?

In all honestly, if you have the choice, don't! VMware Fusion / Workstation / ESXi is a far better platform to run a SmartOS VM on.

In my case, I am away from home a lot and I do not have access to my normal workstation. I do have a NAS running OmniOS which is on all the time. I tried it before but always abandoned the idea. But I recently got it to work with a few caveats.


  • no complex cpu topology
    • passing -smp 4 works
    • passing -smp 4,sockets=1,cores=2,threads=2 makes illumos kernel barf
  • no vioif
    • we're stuck with e1000 nic emulation which is not the fastest



  • OmniOS r151012
    • other versions should work too, but untested by me
  • kvmadm
    • available in obd repository (mostly to make things easier to manage)

Adding the additional repository

pfexec pkg set-publisher -g
pfexec pkg refresh --full

Installing required packages

pfexec pkg install -nv system/kvm obd/system/kvmadm obd/system/kvmcon
pfexec pkg install -v system/kvm obd/system/kvmadm obd/system/kvmcon

Creating the VM with kvmadm

Substitude your own pool and paths below (my VM is called muon)

pfexec zfs create -o quota=25G core/vms/hosts/muon
pfexec zfs create -V 20G -o compression=lz4 core/vms/hosts/muon/disk0


   "muon" : {
      "nics" : [
            "index" : "0",
            "over" : "trunk0",
            "nic_name" : "vmuon0",
            "model" : "e1000",
            "vlan_id" : "0"
      "cpu_type" : "qemu64,+aes,+sse4.2,+sse4.1,+ssse3",
      "vnc" : "sock",
      "hpet" : "true",
      "disks" : [
            "index" : "0",
            "disk_path" : "/vms/hosts/muon/smartos-latest.iso",
            "media": "cdrom",
            "model" : "ide"
            "index" : "1",
            "disk_path" : "core/vms/hosts/muon/disk0",
            "model" : "virtio"
      "boot_order" : "dc",
      "shutdown" : "kill",
      "vcpus" : "4",
      "serials" : [
            "index" : "0",
            "serial_name" : "console"
      "cleanup" : "true",
      "ram" : "4096",
      "time_base" : "utc"

Import it

pfexec kvmadm import /vms/hosts/muon/muon.json

Getting networking to work in your zones

This is the real critical part, if you simple boot the VM as is, you will have networking in SmartOS's Global Zone but networking in zones will not work.

This is because a vnic only allows traffic form its MAC to make it up the stack.

Retrieve the mac from your recently created zone

If you have more than one NIC in a zone, make sure to get all the MACs.

SmartOS Global Zone

vmadm get UUID | json nics | json -a mac

Make sure to include all MACs here.

OmniOS Global Zone

pfexec dladm set-linkprop -p secondary-macs=aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:01,aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:02,aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:03,aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:04 vmuon0

Your zones should now have network connectivity.

Managing the VM

Starting the VM

pfexec svcadm enable svc:/system/kvm:muon

Stopping the VM

pfexec svcadm disable svc:/system/kvm:muon

Connecting to the VGA console

pfexec kvmcon vnc muon

Connecting to the Serial console

pfexec kvmcon console muon

Connecting to the monitor console. Norm al there is no need to view this, but it can be handy for debugging.

pfexec kvmcon monitor muon