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I'm trying to understand how all the components of the VM ecosystem fit together.

What's the difference between:

  • KVM
  • QEMU
  • libvirt

Which is controlled by virsh and virt-install?

This comment says that libvirt is an abstraction ontop of QEMU, which is an abstraction ontop of KVM. However the official QEMU docs say that QEMU is a processor emulator, which sounds like the lowest level component.

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Qemu is the lowest level that emulates processor and peripherals. KVM is to accelerate it if the CPU has VT enabled. Libvirt provides a daemon and client to manipulate VMs for convenience. See also Difference between KVM and QEMU on Server Fault.

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