Creating and Managing Virtual Networks in KVM: A Step-by-Step Guide

Virtualization has become an integral part of modern computing, offering the ability to run multiple operating systems on a single physical machine. Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is a popular open-source virtualization solution for Linux systems. One of the key components in setting up a virtualized environment is configuring virtual networks. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of creating and managing virtual networks in KVM.


Before diving into the network configuration process, ensure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  • KVM Hypervisor: Make sure you have a Linux system with KVM installed and properly configured.
  • Root Privileges: You need root or sudo privileges to manage virtual networks and interact with network settings.

Understanding Virtual Networks

Virtual networks in KVM allow virtual machines (VMs) to communicate with each other and the external world. They act as bridges between the virtual and physical networks, providing connectivity and isolation for VMs.

Types of Virtual Networks

There are three main types of virtual networks in KVM:

1. NAT (Network Address Translation)

NAT networks allow VMs to share the host’s IP address for external communication. This is useful for scenarios where you have limited IP addresses.

2. Bridged Networks

Bridged networks enable VMs to have their own IP addresses on the physical network, as if they were separate physical machines. This provides direct communication with other devices on the network.

3. Host-only Networks

Host-only networks restrict communication to only the host and its VMs. This offers isolation and security for testing environments.

Creating a Virtual Network

Let’s walk through the steps to create a bridged virtual network:

Step 1: Check Network Interfaces

Use the command ip a or ifconfig to identify your host’s network interfaces.

Step 2: Create a Bridge Interface

Create a bridge interface using tools like brctl or nmcli, connecting it to a physical interface.

Step 3: Configure Virtual Machines

For each VM, configure its network interface to connect to the created bridge interface.

Managing Virtual Networks

Once you’ve created virtual networks, it’s important to understand how to manage and troubleshoot them.

Adding and Removing Virtual Networks

You can add and remove virtual networks as needed using commands like virsh or by editing XML definitions.

Monitoring Network Traffic

Tools like tcpdump or Wireshark can help you monitor network traffic within your virtualized environment.

Troubleshooting Connectivity Issues

If VMs are facing connectivity issues, check configurations, firewalls, and network settings to identify and resolve the problems.


Effectively creating and managing virtual networks in KVM is essential for building a successful virtualized infrastructure. Understanding the types of networks, their purposes, and the configuration steps will empower you to create isolated, connected, or restricted networking environments for your virtual machines.

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