Canonical developed Ubuntu Multipass, a command-line utility for quickly and easily creating Ubuntu virtual machines on all major operating systems.
As the name implies, Ubuntu Multipass can launch virtual instances of Ubuntu and other custom images. It can be configured with cloud-init exactly like any other public cloud and can create a virtual Ubuntu environment with a single command.
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We can use it for a variety of purposes, including software development and testing, as well as creating our own mini cloud. In this tutorial, we will learn how to install Ubuntu Multipass on Linux, Windows, and Mac, as well as how to create our first Ubuntu VM. We’ll also learn how to use the command-line interface to configure and manage our virtual machines.
Purpose of Using Multipass
Before we proceed, consider why someone would need to use Ubuntu Multipass when there are numerous alternatives.
Ubuntu Multipass lets you run Ubuntu VMs with a single command, and managing different VMs is just as simple. We can install it on a server and launch VMs to perform our services without interfering with the host server.
We can also use it to quickly access Ubuntu command-line by installing it on Windows and Mac, which would have been a little more difficult otherwise.
As stated previously, Multipass allows users to configure their virtual machines with cloud-init. We can use cloud-init to install/update packages, launch/configure packages, generate and run shell scripts, and so on.
Install Ubuntu Mulipass
Ubuntu Multipass is available for Windows, Mac, and, of course, any Linux version.
Install Ubuntu Multipass in Linux
Ubuntu Multipass is available as a snap package on Linux distributions. So , we’ll need snapd installed on our distributions.
Ubuntu comes with snap pre-installed. If you’re running a customized/minimal version of Ubuntu or another Linux distribution that doesn’t have snapd installed (such as Linux Mint), you can install it with the command –
sudo apt install snapd
Once you have installed
snapd on your Linux distribution, we can use
snap command to install Ubuntu Multipass.
sudo snap install multipass
Install Ubuntu Multipass in Windows
On Windows, we will need Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise/Education v 1803 or later, or any Windows version with VirtualBox installed.
Install Ubuntu Multpass in Mac
Just like Windows, you can download and install Ubuntu Multipass binary on Mac.
Ubuntu Multipass Commands
Launch an instance
Creating an instance with Ubuntu Multipass is a breeze.
multipass launch <image-name>
If we do not pass any parameter to the
launch command, it’ll create an instance of the latest Ubuntu release.
multipass launch ubuntu --name UbuntuLTS
--name argument, we can rename our instance.
multipass launch docker --name dockerInstance --memory 2G
launch failed: Requested Memory size is less than Blueprint minimum of 4G. The error can be resolved by using
--memoryargument to allocate the minimum required memory to the instance.
--memory argument, we can allocate the memory to our virtual instance.
multipass launch kinetic --name ubuntu2210 --memory 2G --cpus 1
--cpus argument, we can allocate the number of cpu cores to the instance.
multipass launch jellyfin --name jellyFin --memory 4G --cpus 2 --disk 40G
--disk argument, we can allocate the amount of storage to the instance.
find command lists all the available images.
sandy@LinuxAndUbuntu:~$ multipass find Image Aliases Version Description snapcraft:core18 18.04 20201111 Snapcraft builder for Core 18 snapcraft:core20 20.04 20210921 Snapcraft builder for Core 20 snapcraft:core22 22.04 20220426 Snapcraft builder for Core 22 snapcraft:devel 20230213 Snapcraft builder for the devel series core core16 20200818 Ubuntu Core 16 core18 20211124 Ubuntu Core 18 core20 20230119 Ubuntu Core 20 core22 20230119 Ubuntu Core 22 18.04 bionic 20230210 Ubuntu 18.04 LTS 20.04 focal 20230209 Ubuntu 20.04 LTS 22.04 jammy,lts 20230210 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS 22.10 kinetic 20230202 Ubuntu 22.10 daily:23.04 devel,lunar 20230202 Ubuntu 23.04 appliance:adguard-home 20200812 Ubuntu AdGuard Home Appliance appliance:mosquitto 20200812 Ubuntu Mosquitto Appliance appliance:nextcloud 20200812 Ubuntu Nextcloud Appliance appliance:openhab 20200812 Ubuntu openHAB Home Appliance appliance:plexmediaserver 20200812 Ubuntu Plex Media Server Appliance 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
Stop an instance
multipass stop <instance-name>
stop command followed by the instance name will shutdown the instance immediately. We can also pass
-t parameter to schedule a shutdown.
-t argument accepts the number of minutes to shutdown.
multipass stop jellyFin -t 3
Once the instance is scheduled to shutdown, the instance state will change from Running to Delayed Shutdown.
We can also cancel a scheduled shutdown by using
-c argument to the
multipass stop jellyFin -c
Restart an instance
multipass restart <instance-name>
We can also restart all instances at once by passing
multipass restart --all
Some instances may need to wait for certain processes to finish before initiating a restart. By passing
--timeout option, we can pass the maximum time that it can wait for the command(s) to complete.
multipass restart UbuntuLTS --timeout 180
Delete an instance
multipass delete <instance-name>
delete command followed by the instance name will put the instance in Deleted state. Note that the instance can be recovered from the Deleted state anytime. If we want to delete the instance completely, without any chance of recovering it, we can pass
--purge argument to the command.
multipass delete UbuntuLTS --purge
sandy@LinuxAndUbuntu:~$ multipass list Name State IPv4 Image UbuntuLTS Running 10.143.236.111 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS amused-moth Stopped -- Ubuntu 22.04 LTS brisk-hamster Deleted -- Not Available exotic-coati Running 10.143.236.23 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS jellyFin Running 10.143.236.18 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ltsRelease Running 10.143.236.69 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ubuntu2210 Running 10.143.236.142 Ubuntu 22.10
list option lists all the instances. The default output format is table. We can get the output in json, csv, and yaml by passing
--format option to the
multipass list --format yaml
sandy@LinuxAndUbuntu:~$ multipass list --format yaml UbuntuLTS: - state: Running ipv4: - 10.143.236.111 release: Ubuntu 22.04 LTS amused-moth: - state: Stopped ipv4:  release: Ubuntu 22.04 LTS brisk-hamster: - state: Deleted ipv4:  release: Not Available exotic-coati: - state: Running ipv4: - 10.143.236.23 release: Ubuntu 22.04 LTS jellyFin: - state: Running ipv4: - 10.143.236.18 release: Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ltsRelease: - state: Running ipv4: - 10.143.236.69 release: Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ubuntu2210: - state: Running ipv4: - 10.143.236.142 release: Ubuntu 22.10
Show instance information
multipass info <instance-name>
sandy@LinuxAndUbuntu:~$ multipass info UbuntuLTS Name: UbuntuLTS State: Running IPv4: 10.143.236.111 Release: Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS Image hash: 4401cf7e9948 (Ubuntu 22.04 LTS) CPU(s): 1 Load: 0.00 0.00 0.00 Disk usage: 1.4GiB out of 4.7GiB Memory usage: 149.5MiB out of 965.9MiB Mounts: --
We can also pass
--all to get the information of all the instances. With the additional option
--format, we can format the output in json, csv, and yaml.
Login to an instance
multipass shell <instance-name>
Please ensure that the instance you’re trying to connect is in the Running state.
sandy@LinuxAndUbuntu:~$ multipass shell UbuntuLTS Welcome to Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS (GNU/Linux 5.15.0-60-generic x86_64) * Documentation: https://help.ubuntu.com * Management: https://landscape.canonical.com * Support: https://ubuntu.com/advantage System information as of Tue Feb 14 16:12:08 UTC 2023 System load: 0.001953125 Processes: 89 Usage of /: 30.6% of 4.67GB Users logged in: 0 Memory usage: 18% IPv4 address for ens3: 10.143.236.111 Swap usage: 0% Expanded Security Maintenance for Applications is not enabled. 0 updates can be applied immediately. Enable ESM Apps to receive additional future security updates. See https://ubuntu.com/esm or run: sudo pro status Last login: Tue Feb 14 15:11:17 2023 from 10.143.236.1 To run a command as administrator (user "root"), use "sudo <command>". See "man sudo_root" for details. ubuntu@UbuntuLTS:~$
Ubuntu Multipass Advanced
Now that we have basic understanding of Ubuntu Multipass, we can now start to learn some advanced tasks that we can perform on our multipass instances.
1. Mount File Systems
Immediately after initiating our first instance, we will need to provide it access to our local storage. We can mount local directory with
multipass mount <host-directory> <instance-name>:<instance-directory>
Remember above we created a jellyfin instance. We can now add our local Video directory to the instance using the following command –
multipass mount /home/sandy/Videos/ jellyfin:/media
2. Set environment variables
multipass exec <instance-name> --env <variable-name>=<value> <command>
3. Share files between host and instance
Transfer files/directories from host to instance.
multipass transfer <source-file/directory> <instance-name>:<destination-directory>
Transfer files/directories from the instance to host.
multipass transfer <instance-name>:<destination-directory> <source-file/directory>
For example, to transfer a video stored locally in
/home/sandy/Videos to our instance
jellyfin, we can use the following command –
multipass transfer /home/sandy/Videos/video.mp4 jellyfin:/media
Troubleshooting common errors
multipass launch: Not enough memory
Resolution: Increase the instance memory with
multipass launch: Not enough disk space
Resolution: Increase the instance disk with
multipass mount: Cannot mount directory
Resolution: Please check that the host directory you’re trying to mount is accessible.
multipass debug [instance-name]
So there you have it, Ubuntu Multipass, the quick and easy to use to tool to launch VMs on your Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems. We can use it for all sort of purposes. I am currently hosting a local media server using Multipass.
If you have any doubt, please let us know in the comment section. If you’re already using Ubuntu Multipass, share with us what you’re using it for. 🙂