What you need to know:

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a complete virtualization solution that is bundled with the Linux kernel and is available in most modern Linux distributions. Thanks to KVM, you can create and run multiple virtual machines that have Linux or Windows as their OS and each of them has virtualized components like graphics cards, network cards, disk storage, and more. All that is needed to take advantage of KVM is to have a host computer running Linux and a CPU that has virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V).

Have you ever wanted to operate multiple single-purpose computers that perform a single task but without spending money on additional hardware? If so, you should try using virtualization software like KVM to emulate an entire virtual machine that has its own components and computing resources. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what a virtual machine is and we’ll also showcase KVM and its capabilities.

Table of Contents:

What Is KVM?

KVM, which stands for Kernel-based Virtual Machine, is a virtualization technology that is capable of creating, managing, and running virtual machines that work independently of one another thanks to virtual components like network cards, disk storage, graphics cards, sound card and more. The virtual machines can use either Linux or Windows as their OS while the host computer must use Linux since KVM has been bundled with the Linux kernel since early 2007. In addition to running Linux, the host computer must also have a CPU that supports virtualization extensions Intel VT or AMD-V.

What Is a Virtual Machine?

A Virtual Machine (or VM for short) is a sophisticated computer process that emulates an entire computer system. Every virtual machine has virtualized components like a network card, a graphics card, disk storage, and more. You can install any regular operating system on a VM such as Windows or Linux. What is more, you can interact with your VMs just like with any other regular computer and install additional applications as needed. To learn more, check our article on virtual machines.

Use Cases

Since KVM comes bundled with most Linux distributions, KVM virtualization is popular in places where computers with Linux are commonplace. Two such examples are software development and web hosting.

Software developers often depend on KVM and similar virtualization solutions to emulate different environments and systems to thoroughly test their products. Web hosting companies, on the other hand, may leverage KVM to build sophisticated server systems that separate the various hosting services that are offered to customers.

Here at AwardSpace, we see KVM as a crucial piece of technology and use it extensively throughout our services. For example, if you purchase a VPS from us, you will be using a VM that is powered by KVM.

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KVM Advantages

KVM has a lot going for it. Below, we will list the biggest advantages KVM has over the competition:

  • KVM is free and open-source.
  • Ships with most modern Linux distributions.
  • A single hardware platform is provided for all VMs which eliminates possible driver conflicts.
  • Each VM can be scaled dynamically in real-time as its usage and resource requirements change.
  • Each VM has its own virtualized components like a graphics card, network card, disk storage, and more.
  • KVM supports virtual machines running Linux and Windows.
  • There is full snapshot support for backup purposes.
  • Live migration is possible, allowing you to move a VM from one computer to another without shutting it down.
  • You can automate the administration of VMs through libvirt.

KVM Disadvantages

Of course, there are a couple of downsides to using KVM as well. The two most notable are:

  • The centralized hardware approach where one physical computer powers multiple VMs increases the risk of downtime for the virtual machines in case the physical computer experiences a malfunction.
  • Since KVM is built into Linux, you need to have a Linux host computer to use KVM.


KVM can be an incredibly useful technology for companies, professionals, and tech enthusiasts alike. Whether it’s software testing, neatly separating web services in their own containers, or using multiple operating systems at a time on a single computer, there are many scenarios where a virtualization solution like KVM can be used.

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