EFI in QEMU KVM on Fedora 20

Last sprint, I was working on EFI PXE booting support for Foreman. Although I have a EFI-compatible PC in the house, I wanted a stable environment for development and testing. Virtualized, of course.

The best option is KVM/QEMU/libvirt triple which I use for regular Foreman development. I started googling around and spent a day modifying my distribution package. It did not work well. And then I stumbled upon familiar name, Laszlo Ersek from Red Hat, who helped me getting this rolling.


To get EFI working under QEMU, one needs 2.1.1+ version with modified BIOS. Since I already almost destroyed configuration of the QEMU from Fedora 20 (had to reinstall the packages), I was guided to install from sources:

wget http://wiki.qemu-project.org/download/qemu-2.1.1.tar.bz2
tar bla bla
yum -y install spice-server-devel spice-protocol SDL-devel
./configure --target-list=x86_64-softmmu --enable-spice \
    --prefix=/opt/qemu-2.1.1 --enable-debug --disable-gtk
make install
chown root:root /opt/qemu-2.1.1/libexec/qemu-bridge-helper
chmod u=rwxs,g=rx,o=rx /opt/qemu-2.1.1/libexec/qemu-bridge-helper
echo 'allow virbr0' > /opt/qemu-2.1.1/etc/qemu/bridge.conf

Having stable version installed in a separate tree (which keeps your laptop clean along smile on your face), one needs to download and install BIOS and EFI firmware. This is important step - for PXE booting, latest nightly builds are needed. Fortunately, for Fedora/Red Hat users, there is a repo out there with latest and greatest build. Do not worry, those packages are compatible with Fedora and won’t overwrite/upgrade anything. You can install them next to the official QEMU BIOS:

sudo wget https://www.kraxel.org/repos/firmware.repo -O \
yum install edk2.git-ovmf-x64

This guy installs into /usr/share/edk2.git along with some dependencies which are also compiled from git (SeaBIOS for legacy EFI mode, NIC drivers and so on).

Now, the hardest part. Since libvirt currently lacks UEFI support, we need to work directly with QEMU. I’d like to thank Laszlo for constructing me this script which sets up things correctly:


# create fresh variable store
cp $VARSTORE_TEMPLATE /tmp/guest-vars.fd

# run qemu
$QEMU_ROOT/bin/qemu-system-x86_64 \
  -M pc-i440fx-2.1 \
  -enable-kvm \
  -m 900 \
  -drive unit=0,if=pflash,format=raw,readonly,file=$OVMF_BINARY \
  -drive unit=1,if=pflash,format=raw,file=/tmp/guest-vars.fd \
  -global isa-debugcon.iobase=0x402 \
  -debugcon file:/tmp/guest.ovmf.log \
  -monitor stdio \
  -device piix3-usb-uhci -device usb-tablet \
  -netdev bridge,id=net0,br=virbr0,helper=$QEMU_ROOT/libexec/qemu-bridge-helper \
  -device virtio-net-pci,netdev=net0,romfile=,bootindex=0 \
  -device qxl-vga

You can run this script as regular user the only part requiring root access is the networking one (bridge helper) and that has suid bit set. The VM will be connected to the “default” libvirt virtual NAT network (virbr0) where you can set up your PXE environment and start playing with EFI PXE booting.

PXELinux and Foreman

In this second part of my blog entry, I want to share some news about Foreman support. Since Foreman ships with templates set for PXELinux by default, I wanted to keep on this path.

Apparently syslinux 5.x does not have EFI support and syslinux 6.02 did not work for me. So I decided to compile 6.03 from sources which did not work either. Luckily, folks on the IRC channel recommended to use 6.03-pre20 version which worked like a charm:


The following files need to be extracted into tftpboot/efi64 directory:


Also I created relative symlinks (TFTP runs in chroot usually) for configuration and kernels:

boot -> ../boot
pxelinux.cfg -> ../pxelinux.cfg

You can do the same with 32bit arch. But that’s pretty much it!

DHCP daemon configuration is straighforward and the best approach is only to hand over EFI PXELinux to DHCP clients which reports as EFI-compatible. You need something like ( network with Foreman running on .2):

# ... snippet ...

option arch code 93 = unsigned integer 16;

subnet netmask {
    pool {

    option subnet-mask;
    option routers;

    class "pxeclients" {
        match if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 9) = "PXEClient";

        if option arch = 00:07 {
            filename "efi/syslinux.efi";
        } else if option arch = 00:06 {
            filename "efi32/syslinux.efi";
        } else {
            filename "pxelinux/pxelinux.0";

Similarly you can use Grub, you need to copy EFI binary and create configuration file. This is covered in RHEL6 (1) and RHEL7 (2) documentation.

30 September 2014 | linux | fedora
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