One user in the root group and not in the kvm group. He can run qemu-system-x86_64 -enable-kvm with no problem. There is also another user that is not in the root group but he belongs to kvm group. However, he can not use -enable-kvm option! and gets

failed to initialize KVM: Permission denied

What is the fix to fix that?

  • Maybe kvm device is not kvm group owned? chown root:kvm /dev/kvm as root and then try to run qemu with your user that is member of kvm group.
    – user34720
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 11:07
  • Interesting... I did that. The user then ran qemu-system-x86_64 -enable-lvm with success. Then he closed the opened qemu window and ran the command again. Then he received permission denied!!!
    – mahmood
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:36
  • 1
    That happened cause the permission could been changed. Maybe if you create a udev rule to get this permission fixed: Create a file named /etc/udev/rules.d/65-kvm.rules with the content KERNEL=="kvm", NAME="%k", GROUP="kvm", MODE="0660" and reload udev rules with the command(as root): udevadm control --reload-rules && udevadm trigger. This will get this permisson permanent fixed for this device file, and you will be able to issue --enable-kvm permanently
    – user34720
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:42
  • Is 65-kvm.rules a one liner?
    – mahmood
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 13:09
  • yup. It will set the to allow reading from owner (root) and group(kvm) to that device
    – user34720
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


This is caused by a misconfigured permission at /dev/kvm device. This should have a read permisson by the kvm group. Steps to solve:

  1. Create the file /etc/udev/rules.d/65-kvm.rules as root
  2. Put the following line inside this file: KERNEL=="kvm", NAME="%k", GROUP="kvm", MODE="0660"
  3. Reload rules with udevadm control --reload-rules && udevadm trigger
  4. With an user that is member of kvm group, try to execute qemu with the -enable-kvm option.

This was fixed a long time ago on Arch Linux(task 14165, April 2009). Maybe you should also report this issue to your distribution developer list.

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