Updated on: 13/05/22

Multipass is a VM manager for Official Ubuntu Images. It can also deploy a VM through cloud-init(only with providers that supports cloud-init). I’ll just use multipass to run a generic Ubuntu.

Native Hypervisors is used by default. On macOS, this would be hyperkit(maintained by the creators of docker). VirtualBox is also supported, but hyperkit is lightweight , and way faster. You read more about it here.

Unfortunately, to get a network interface that you can access from your local network, you would’ve to enable virtualbox.

Installation

Multipass supports all major platforms. Follow the instructions here to install it.

Once the installation is completed, run the following, to verify the installed version and your default hypervisor:

multipass version; echo; sudo multipass get local.driver

Find and launch Images

Find images by running multipass find:

MacBook-Pro:~ kavish$ multipass find
Image                       Aliases           Version          Description
snapcraft:core18                              20201111         Snapcraft builder for Core 18
snapcraft:core20                              20201111         Snapcraft builder for Core 20
snapcraft:core                                20210119         Snapcraft builder for Core 16
16.04                       xenial            20210119         Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
18.04                       bionic            20210119.1       Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
20.04                       focal,lts         20210119.1       Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
20.10                       groovy            20210119.1       Ubuntu 20.10

The launch command will create and start a VM by specifying an alias. If no alias was specified, the LTS version will be installed by default(in this case 18.04 focal, and a random generated name as its name). Just by running a simple command like multipass launch -n localubuntu, it will retrieve the image, install it automatically, and start the VM. You don’t have to dowload an iso, or waste your time going through the installation process.

Run it, and go grab a coffee:

multipass launch -n localubuntu

When it’s done, you’ll see: Launched: localubuntu.

Note: The Retrieving image part is only done once. Now, the base image is saved on disk(think of it like an iso). The next time you run multipass launch -n [vm_name], it will just use that available image to create a new VM. If you launched another Ubuntu distro, then it will have to retrieve it.

To list all your available VMs:

multipass list

Info

To get the info of a specific VM, run multipass info [vm_name]:

MacBook-Pro:~ kavish$ multipass info localubuntu
Name:           localubuntu
State:          Running
IPv4:           N/A
Release:        Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS
Image hash:     c2d26335116d (Ubuntu 20.04 LTS)
Load:           0.00 0.06 0.07
Disk usage:     1.2G out of 4.7G
Memory usage:   115.7M out of 981.3M

By default, launch will allocate 1 CPU, 1G of Memory, and 5G of Disk space. You can’t change those resources once it’s already created(except the CPU). It has to be specified at launch. Like this:

multipass launch -n testVM --mem 2G --cpus 2 --disk 7G focal

Getting a shell

To get a shell, simply run multipass shell [vm_name]:

MacBook-Pro:~ kavish$ multipass shell localubuntu
Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS (GNU/Linux 5.4.0-62-generic x86_64)


  System information as of Tue Jan 26 11:50:48 +04 2021

  System load:  0.08              Processes:               98
  Usage of /:   26.7% of 4.67GB   Users logged in:         0
  Memory usage: 16%               IPv4 address for enp0s3: 10.0.2.15
  Swap usage:   0%

1 update can be installed immediately.
0 of these updates are security updates.
To see these additional updates run: apt list --upgradable


Last login: Tue Jan 26 11:48:07 2021 from 10.0.2.2
ubuntu@localubuntu:~$

Run exit to get out of the shell.

Note: launch is only used to create a VM. To start/stop the VM, run multipass [start OR stop] [vm_name].

Arbitrary commands can also be executed. The syntax is multipass exec [vm_name] -- [command]. Here’s an example:

multipass exec localubuntu -- uname -a

The double-dash -- is just a separator.

Deleting VMs

To delete a VM, run:

multipass delete [vm_name]]

It’s not deleted yet. VMs will reside in some sort of recycle bin. It can be recovered with multipass recover [vm_name]. To delete all deleted instances, run multipass purge.

There’s also a shortcut: multipass delete [vm_name] --purge

Primary Instance

A Primary instance is just an LTS ubuntu VM that gets created or started, only if no [vm_name] was specified.

For example, if you run multipass launch or multipass shell, a primary instance will be created. The difference is, it uses your workstation’s home directory. Like on my machine, it’s using my mac’s \home directory.

Location of Images

They are found in:

/private/var/root/Library/Caches/multipassd/virtualbox/vault/images

As of now, images can only be deleted manually.

Be aware when switching hypervisor

Each has their own folder. So when swtiching, the one in hyperkit won’t appear in virtualbox, and vice versa.

READ

Enabling Virtualbox

Only use it if you want the VM to access your local network:

sudo multipass set local.driver=virtualbox

Here’s all the available commands:

Available commands:
  delete         Delete instances
  exec           Run a command on an instance
  find           Display available images to create instances from
  get            Get a configuration setting
  help           Display help about a command
  info           Display information about instances
  launch         Create and start an Ubuntu instance
  list           List all available instances
  list-networks  List available network interfaces
  mount          Mount a local directory in the instance
  purge          Purge all deleted instances permanently
  recover        Recover deleted instances
  restart        Restart instances
  set            Set a configuration setting
  shell          Open a shell on a running instance
  start          Start instances
  stop           Stop running instances
  suspend        Suspend running instances
  transfer       Transfer files between the host and instances
  umount         Unmount a directory from an instance
  version        Show version details

Read the documentation to learn more.

““Keep your expectations low, and you will never be disappointed.” ― God of War