When I first started using KVM, I was quite disappointed with the graphical management abilities of KVM. Basically if you want to manage via the command line KVM is a fantasical dream world where anything is possible and it is all “musical sunshine” and “double rainbows” but if you want the ability to manage graphically it was a world which was very one sided in that if you wanted the ability to graphically manage your VMs then you had to use Linux. Or so I thought…
Graphical Management of Guests
The standard utility for graphical management of guests is virt-manager which is comparable to Hyper-V Manager, in that it can manage the specifics of a given virtual machine on either a local or remote server. You can also connect to the console regardless of network connectivity, and create and destroy guests. This is not enterprise management, for that you would need to look at Convirt or RHEV. Now as you will see there is no Windows version of Virt-Manager. So how can we use Windows to graphically manage KVM? X11 Forwarding through SSH. This requires 2 bits of software to be installed on the Windows machine (1) a X Window Server, I used XMing which is freely available (2) a SSH Client, XMing will install PuTTy for you, if you are using a different X Window Server you may or may not need to install PuTTy manually.
When installing XMing simply accept all defaults. Then to initiate the connection, launch XMing which will launch into the background. Then setup your PuTTy connection and under the SSH options enable X11 Forwarding. Then initiate your connection to the server and launch virt-manager.
On the server side the only configuration that needs to take place is the installation of the utility you wish to use (virt-manager, virt-viewer, etc).
Figure 1 – Showing the X Window server (XMing) running in the taskbar.
Figure 2 – Showing the X11 Forwarding configuration for PuTTy connections.
Figure 3 – Showing the PuTTy session where we launch the virt-manager utility which is running in the background.
Figure 4 – Showing the Console view of a VM via virt-manager running in Windows 7 by X11 Forwarding.
Figure 5 – Showing the Details view of a VM via virt-manager running in Windows 7 by X11 Forwarding.
One small caveat that I have noticed with this configuration, when redirecting X, virt-manager does not close all of the processes it is using when you close it, thus when you go to exit the PuTTy session it hangs. If you close your X Window server on Windows (in my case XMing) it will close your PuTTy as well (as long as you have already exited from the session). If you are redirecting X on Linux, a control + c will kill the process.