Building Crosvm on Linux

This page describes how to build and develop crosvm on linux. If you are targeting ChromeOS, please see Integration

Checking out

Obtain the source code via git clone.

git clone

Setting up the development environment

Crosvm uses submodules to manage external dependencies. Initialize them via:

git submodule update --init

It is recommended to enable automatic recursive operations to keep the submodules in sync with the main repository (but do not push them, as that can conflict with repo):

git config submodule.recurse true
git config push.recurseSubmodules no

Crosvm development best works on Debian derivatives. We provide a script to install the necessary packages on Debian, Ubuntu or gLinux:


For other systems, please see below for instructions on Using the development container.

Using the development container

We provide a Debian container with the required packages installed. With Podman or Docker installed, it can be started with:


The container image is big and may take a while to download when first used. Once started, you can follow all instructions in this document within the container shell.

Instead of using the interactive shell, commands to execute can be provided directly:

./tools/dev_container cargo build

Note: The container and build artifacts are preserved between calls to ./tools/dev_container. If you wish to start fresh, use the --clean flag.

Building a binary

If you simply want to try crosvm, run cargo build. Then the binary is generated at ./target/debug/crosvm. Now you can move to Example Usage.

If you want to enable additional features, use the --features flag. (e.g. cargo build --features=gdb)


Running all tests

Crosvm's integration tests have special requirements for execution (see Testing), so we use a special test runner. By default it will only execute unit tests:


To execute integration tests as well, you need to specify a device-under-test (DUT). The most reliable option is to use the built-in VM for testing:

./tools/run_tests --dut=vm

However, you can also use your local host directly. Your mileage may vary depending on your host kernel version and permissions.

./tools/run_tests --dut=host

Since we have some architecture-dependent code, we also have the option of running unit tests for aarch64, armhf, riscv64, and windows (mingw64). These will use an emulator to execute (QEMU or wine):

./tools/run_tests --platform=aarch64
./tools/run_tests --platform=armhf
./tools/run_tests --platform=riscv64
./tools/run_tests --platform=mingw64

When working on a machine that does not support cross-compilation (e.g. gLinux), you can use the dev container to build and run the tests.

./tools/dev_container ./tools/run_tests --platform=aarch64

Presubmit checks

To verify changes before submitting, use the presubmit script. To ensure the toolchains for all platforms are available, it is recommended to run it inside the dev container.

./tools/dev_container ./tools/presubmit

This will run clippy, formatters and runs all tests for all platforms. The same checks will also be run by our CI system before changes are merged into main.

See tools/presumit -h for details on various options for selecting which checks should be run to trade off speed and accuracy.


Crosvm is built and tested on x86, aarch64, armhf, and riscv64. Your system needs some setup work to be able to cross-comple for other architectures, hence it is recommended to use the development container, which will have everything configured.

Note: Cross-compilation is not supported on gLinux. Please use the development container.

Enable foreign architectures

Your host needs to be set up to allow installation of foreign architecture packages.

On Debian this is as easy as:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture arm64
sudo dpkg --add-architecture armhf
sudo dpkg --add-architecture riscv64
sudo apt update

On ubuntu this is a little harder and needs some manual modifications of APT sources.

With that enabled, the following scripts will install the needed packages:


Configuring wine and mingw64

Crosvm is also compiled and tested on windows. Some limited testing can be done with mingw64 and wine on linux machines. Use the provided setup script to install the needed dependencies.


Configure cargo for cross-compilation

Cargo requries additional configuration to support cross-compilation. You can copy the provided example config to your cargo configuration:

cat .cargo/config.debian.toml >> ${CARGO_HOME:-~/.cargo}/config.toml

Known issues

  • Devices can't be jailed if /var/empty doesn't exist. sudo mkdir -p /var/empty to work around this for now.
  • You need read/write permissions for /dev/kvm to run tests or other crosvm instances. Usually it's owned by the kvm group, so sudo usermod -a -G kvm $USER and then log out and back in again to fix this.
  • Some other features (networking) require CAP_NET_ADMIN so those usually need to be run as root.