GNOME boxes fails to start virtual os

Bug #1762205 reported by Ahmet Aksoy on 2018-04-08
This bug affects 24 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
gnome-boxes (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

System: Ubuntu 18.04 (08.04.2018 updated)
App: gnome-boxes 3.27.92

1- install gnome-boxes
2-choose an os iso

gnome-boxes gives error notification
"failed to start "ubuntu""

There is terminal output:

~$ gnome-boxes

(gnome-boxes:5992): Gtk-WARNING **: 19:17:08.205: GtkFlowBox with a model will ignore sort and filter functions

(gnome-boxes:5992): Gtk-WARNING **: 19:17:08.207: GtkListBox with a model will ignore sort and filter functions

(gnome-boxes:5992): Boxes-WARNING **: 19:17:38.379: machine.vala:620: Failed to start ubuntu-18: Unable to start domain: unsupported configuration: CPU mode 'custom' for x86_64 kvm domain on x86_64 host is not supported by hypervisor

Troubleshooting Log:
Broker URL: qemu+unix:///session
Domain: boxes-unknown
UUID: 0d51fda4-cc12-4ff2-9b37-192fa25e333e
Persistent: yes
Cpu time: 0
Memory: 2097152 KiB
Max memory: 8071456 KiB
CPUs: 8

Domain config:
<domain type="kvm">
    <boxes:gnome-boxes xmlns:boxes="">
      <media>/media/pisi/fbeab842-d285-4037-9b9f-ed8458581de7/pisi/System/Operating Systems/Ubuntu/Ubuntu 18.04/ubuntu-18.04-beta2-desktop-amd64.iso</media>
  <memory unit="KiB">2097152</memory>
  <currentMemory unit="KiB">2097152</currentMemory>
  <vcpu placement="static">8</vcpu>
    <type arch="x86_64" machine="pc-i440fx-bionic">hvm</type>
    <boot dev="cdrom"/>
    <boot dev="hd"/>
  <cpu mode="custom" match="exact" check="partial">
    <model fallback="allow">SandyBridge</model>
    <topology sockets="1" cores="4" threads="2"/>
  <clock offset="utc">
    <timer name="rtc" tickpolicy="catchup"/>
    <timer name="pit" tickpolicy="delay"/>
    <timer name="hpet" present="no"/>
    <suspend-to-mem enabled="no"/>
    <suspend-to-disk enabled="no"/>
    <disk type="file" device="disk">
      <driver name="qemu" type="qcow2" cache="writeback"/>
      <source file="/home/pisi/.local/share/gnome-boxes/images/boxes-unknown"/>
      <target dev="hda" bus="ide"/>
      <address type="drive" controller="0" bus="0" target="0" unit="0"/>
    <disk type="file" device="cdrom">
      <driver name="qemu" type="raw"/>
      <source file="/media/pisi/fbeab842-d285-4037-9b9f-ed8458581de7/pisi/System/Operating Systems/Ubuntu/Ubuntu 18.04/ubuntu-18.04-beta2-desktop-amd64.iso" startupPolicy="mandatory"/>
      <target dev="hdc" bus="ide"/>
      <address type="drive" controller="0" bus="1" target="0" unit="0"/>
    <controller type="usb" index="0" model="ich9-ehci1">
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x05" function="0x7"/>
    <controller type="usb" index="0" model="ich9-uhci1">
      <master startport="0"/>
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x05" function="0x0" multifunction="on"/>
    <controller type="usb" index="0" model="ich9-uhci2">
      <master startport="2"/>
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x05" function="0x1"/>
    <controller type="usb" index="0" model="ich9-uhci3">
      <master startport="4"/>
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x05" function="0x2"/>
    <controller type="pci" index="0" model="pci-root"/>
    <controller type="ide" index="0">
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x01" function="0x1"/>
    <controller type="virtio-serial" index="0">
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x06" function="0x0"/>
    <controller type="ccid" index="0">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="2"/>
    <interface type="user">
      <mac address="52:54:00:4b:75:19"/>
      <model type="rtl8139"/>
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x03" function="0x0"/>
    <smartcard mode="passthrough" type="spicevmc">
      <address type="ccid" controller="0" slot="0"/>
    <serial type="pty">
      <target type="isa-serial" port="0">
        <model name="isa-serial"/>
    <console type="pty">
      <target type="serial" port="0"/>
    <channel type="spicevmc">
      <target type="virtio" name="com.redhat.spice.0"/>
      <address type="virtio-serial" controller="0" bus="0" port="1"/>
    <channel type="spiceport">
      <source channel="org.spice-space.webdav.0"/>
      <target type="virtio" name="org.spice-space.webdav.0"/>
      <address type="virtio-serial" controller="0" bus="0" port="2"/>
    <input type="tablet" bus="usb">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="3"/>
    <input type="mouse" bus="usb">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="4"/>
    <input type="keyboard" bus="usb">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="5"/>
    <input type="mouse" bus="ps2"/>
    <input type="keyboard" bus="ps2"/>
    <graphics type="spice">
      <listen type="none"/>
      <image compression="off"/>
    <sound model="ac97">
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x04" function="0x0"/>
      <model type="qxl" ram="65536" vram="65536" vgamem="16384" heads="1" primary="yes"/>
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x02" function="0x0"/>
    <redirdev bus="usb" type="spicevmc">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="6"/>
    <redirdev bus="usb" type="spicevmc">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="1.1"/>
    <redirdev bus="usb" type="spicevmc">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="1.2"/>
    <redirdev bus="usb" type="spicevmc">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="1.3"/>
    <hub type="usb">
      <address type="usb" bus="0" port="1"/>
    <memballoon model="virtio">
      <address type="pci" domain="0x0000" bus="0x00" slot="0x07" function="0x0"/>

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in gnome-boxes (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Paul White (paulw2u) on 2018-04-22
tags: added: bionic

So, this is simple to solve as it is a group issue.

1. Add group=kvm in /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf
2. Add yourself to the kvm group - sudo usermod -a -G kvm userName

Works after this. but shouldn't need this fix out of the box.


Ahmet Aksoy (parduist) wrote :

There is no qemu.conf or libvirt folder in 18.04 and 17.10.
gnome-boxes working in 17.10 but not working in 18.04.

Nikolaos Perrakis (nikperrakis) wrote :

I have the same problem in Ubuntu Mate 18.04.

I was able to fix the problem following John's suggestion:

At first I looked for package dependencies:

$ apt-cache showpkg gnome-boxes

Then we look for qemu-system-x86 configuration files:

$ cat /var/lib/dpkg/info/qemu-system-x86.conffiles

Then we add `group=kvm` to

Then we add ourselves to the kvm group

$ sudo usermod -a -G kvm $USER

Since closing and restarting Boxes didn't work I rebooted and then I was able to spin an Ubuntu 18.04 VM on my laptop with gnome-boxes.

Nikolaos Perrakis (nikperrakis) wrote :


The solution of appending `group=kvm` causes a problem when updating packages such is nvidia binary drivers. This is the second package that causes this, don't remember the first one. The error is:

# various stuff ...
update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-4.15.0-20-generic
libkmod: ERROR ../libkmod/libkmod-config.c:656 kmod_config_parse: /etc/modprobe.d/qemu-system-x86.conf line 2: ignoring bad line starting with 'group=kvm'
# error gets repeated 30+ times
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.27-3ubuntu1) ...
# various stuff ...

I am not sure how to fix it (potentially this may not even need to be an error but a warning). Any ideas?

I am also affected by this - ubuntu 18.04 - but "upgraded"/updated continuously from beta

1) There seems to be packages missing after installing gnome-boxes, these ones were not installed so I installed them AFTER I installed gnome-boxes:
sudo apt-get install qemu qemu-kvm libvirt-bin

2) I can't start the VM and have the same issue as described above. The fix with adding group=kvm and adding me to the kvm group works for me, too!

Maybe there are "some lines missing" in the installation process of gnome-boxes?

It is not only "annoying" it makes the package completely unusable without this fix.

Nikolaos Perrakis (nikperrakis) wrote :

@ Frederik not all the packages you install seem to be needed.

Even though, in my system, I have 2/3 installed (see below) I have a working fedora workstation 28 VM.

$ apt policy qemu qemu-kvm libvirt-bin
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7.2
  Version table:
     1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7.2 500
        500 bionic-updates/universe amd64 Packages
        500 bionic-security/universe amd64 Packages
     1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7 500
        500 bionic/universe amd64 Packages
  Installed: 1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7.2
  Candidate: 1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7.2
  Version table:
 *** 1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7.2 500
        500 bionic-updates/main amd64 Packages
        500 bionic-security/main amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
     1:2.11+dfsg-1ubuntu7 500
        500 bionic/main amd64 Packages
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 4.0.0-1ubuntu8.1
  Version table:
     4.0.0-1ubuntu8.1 500
        500 bionic-updates/main amd64 Packages
     4.0.0-1ubuntu8 500
        500 bionic/main amd64 Packages


Had same issue fixed it with @JT fix but I had to install libvirt first

`sudo apt install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin`
Add group=kvm in /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf
Add yourself to the kvm group `sudo usermod -a -G kvm $USER`

I rebooted for good measure and now vm's start up

Dennis Etheridge (dl751ether) wrote :

Tried what John Tanner did not work.
So I tried Stephen Matin's also did not work.

cement_head (andorjkiss) wrote :


So the line in the </etc/modprobe.d/qemu-system-x86.conf> should look like this:

options kvm_intel nested=1 `group=kvm`

Is this correct?

Doug B (ve3gob) wrote :

me too, will check bug bug #1767302.

Can someone please explain how to fix this more clearly?

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