Monthly Archives: October 2014

LinuxCon/KVMForum/CloudOpen Eu 2014

While the Linux Foundation’s colocated events (LinuxCon/KVMForum/CloudOpen, Plumbers and a bunch of others) are still in progress (Düsseldorf, Germany), thought I’d quickly write a note here.

Some slides and demo notes on managing snapshots/disk image chains with libvirt/QEMU. And, some additional examples with a bit of commentary. (Thanks to Eric Blake, of libvirt project, for reviewing some of the details there.)

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libvirt blockcommit: shorten disk image chain by live merging the current active disk content

When using QCOW2-based external snapshots, it is desirable to reduce an entire disk image chain to a single disk to retain performance and increase while the guest is running. Upstream QEMU and libvirt has recently acquired the ability to do that. Relevant git commits for QEMU (Jeff Cody) and libvirt (Eric Blake).

This is best illustrated with a quick example.

Let’s start with the below disk image chain as below for a guest called vm1. For simplicity’s sake:

[base] <-- [sn1] <-- [sn2] <-- [current] (live QEMU)

Once live active block commit operation is complete (step 5 below), the result will be a flattened disk image chain where data from sn1, sn2 and current are live commited into base:

 [base] (live QEMU)

(1) List the current active image in use:

$ virsh domblklist vm1
Target     Source
vda        /export/images/base.qcow2

(2) For a quick test, create external snapshots. (And, repeat the above operation two more times, so we have the chain: [base] <– [sn1] <– [sn2] <– [current] )

$ virsh snapshot-create-as \
   --domain vm1 snap1 \
   --diskspec vda,file=/export/images/sn1.qcow2 \
   --disk-only --atomic

(3) Enumerate the backing file chain:

$ qemu-img info --backing-chain current.qcow2
[. . .] # output discarded for brevity

(4) Again, check the current active disk image:

$ virsh domblklist vm1
Target     Source
vda        /export/images/current.qcow2

(5) Live Active commit an entire chain, including pivot:

$ virsh blockcommit vm1 vda \
   --active --pivot --verbose
Block Commit: [100 %]
Successfully pivoted


  • –active: It performs a two stage operation: first stage – it commits the contents from top images into base (i.e. sn1, sn2, current into base); in the second stage, the block operation remains awake to synchronize any further changes (from top images into base), here the user can take two actions: cancel the job, or pivot the job, i.e. adjust the base image as the current active image.
  • –pivot: Once data is committed from sn1, sn2 and current into base, it pivots the live QEMU to use base as the active image.
  • –verbose: Displays a progress of block operation.
  • Finally, the disk image backing chain is shortened to a single disk image.

(6) Optionally, list the current active image in use. It’s now back to ‘base’ which has all the contents from current, sn2, sn1):

$ virsh domblklist vm1
Target     Source
vda        /export/images/base.qcow2


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