I have command line access to a Linux machine which may or may not be virtualized. I want to determine what kind of virtualization technology it runs on, if any (VMWare, VirtualBox, KVM, OpenVZ, Xen, ). This isn't a hostile environment: I'm not trying to work against a VM that is trying to disguise itself, I'm diagnosing a flaky server that I know little about.

More precisely, I'm helping someone diagnose the issue, I'm not sitting at the helm. So I have to convey instructions like “copy-paste this command” and not “poke around /proc somewhere”. Ideally, it would be something like lshw: an easily-installable (if not preinstalled) command that does the poking around and prints out relevant information.

What's the easiest way of determining what virtualization technology this system may be a guest of? I'd appreciate if proposals mentioned which technologies (including bare hardware) can be conclusively detected and which can be conclusively eliminated. I'm mostly interested in Linux, but if it also works for other unices that's nice.


17 Answers 17


dmidecode -s system-product-name

I have tested on Vmware Workstation, VirtualBox, QEMU with KVM, standalone QEMU with Ubuntu as the guest OS. Others have added additional platforms that they're familiar with as well.

Virtualization technologies

  • VMware Workstation

    root@router:~# dmidecode -s system-product-name
    VMware Virtual Platform
  • VirtualBox

    root@router:~# dmidecode -s system-product-name
  • Qemu with KVM

    root@router:~# dmidecode -s system-product-name
  • Qemu (emulated)

    root@router:~# dmidecode -s system-product-name
  • Microsoft VirtualPC

    root@router:~# dmidecode | egrep -i 'manufacturer|product'
    Manufacturer: Microsoft Corporation
    Product Name: Virtual Machine
  • Virtuozzo

    root@router:~# dmidecode
    /dev/mem: Permission denied
  • Xen

    root@router:~# dmidecode | grep -i domU
    Product Name: HVM domU

On bare metal, this returns an identification of the computer or motherboard model.


If you don't have the rights to run dmidecode then you can use:

Virtualization Technology: QEMU

ls -1 /dev/disk/by-id/


[root@host-7-129 ~]# ls -1 /dev/disk/by-id/


  • 5
    Hyper-V returns a nearly worthless Virtual Machine for dmidecode -s system-product-name. There is nothing obvious under /dev/disk/by-id either. facter appears to detect hyperv by looking at the lspci output.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 23:39
  • 1
    Open VZ check for /proc/user_beancounters
    – exussum
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 12:45
  • +1 for /proc/user_beancounters over OpenVZ wich is likely on cheap VPS's as example.
    – m3nda
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 2:37
  • Both dmidecode and /dev/disk/by-id solutions fail in a Docker container. See unix.stackexchange.com/a/257207/106572 Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 17:35
  • 6
    with qemu 2.5.0 (at least), dmidecode -s system-product-name returns a generic hardware description instead of the "KVM" or "Bochs" shown above. For me, this string is Standard PC (i440FX + PIIX, 1996). dmidecode -s system-manufacturer returns the far less generic string QEMU. Since qemu allows DMI data to be provided, I suspect dmidecode is relatively easy to fool - no matter the field being read.
    – Mark
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 22:46

If the container is running systemd:

$ systemd-detect-virt

On KVM for example it returns:


and on a non-virtualized host:


See also:

  • 1
    This works for openvz as well.
    – lepe
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 3:23
  • It output kvm for Google Compute Engine, which is what I was trying to figure out. Thanks!
    – snetch
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 20:00
  • Simple command that works like a charm on Ubuntu 18.04! Much thanks :)
    – develCuy
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 3:49
  • 1
    if you just want to know if you are on a vm or not using systemd-detect-virt, you can use the exit codes. 0 for VM, 1 for "bare metal"
    – thejinx0r
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 22:14
  • What if it returns "qemu"? Does it mean KVM is used?
    – MappaM
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 15:14

Desirable method


This command produces the following output on vairous VM technology guests.

$ sudo lshw -class system


  • KVM

        description: Computer
        product: KVM
        vendor: Red Hat
        width: 64 bits
        capabilities: smbios-2.4 dmi-2.4 vsyscall64 vsyscall32
  • Virtual Box

        description: Computer
        product: VirtualBox ()
        vendor: innotek GmbH
        version: 1.2
        serial: 0
        width: 64 bits
        capabilities: smbios-2.5 dmi-2.5 vsyscall32
  • VMWare

        description: Computer
        product: VMware Virtual Platform ()
        vendor: VMware, Inc.
        version: None
        serial: VMware-56 4d 94 a0 53 e3 f3 c6-f9 a6 eb 1a 89 70 04 57
        width: 32 bits
        capabilities: smbios-2.4 dmi-2.4 smp-1.4 smp


If you're on Ubuntu/Debian there's the package open-vm-tools can be installed. It provides vmware-checkvm. It returns only a a digit. A 0 means it's a VM, a 1 means it's a physical system.

Less desirable methods

If it's KVM the /proc/scsi/scsi and ethtool options show up as follows:


$ cat /proc/scsi/scsi 
Attached devices:
Host: scsi1 Channel: 00 Id: 00 Lun: 00
  Vendor: QEMU     Model: QEMU DVD-ROM     Rev: 0.9.
  Type:   CD-ROM                           ANSI  SCSI revision: 05


$ ethtool -i eth0
driver: virtio_net
bus-info: virtio0
supports-statistics: no
supports-test: no
supports-eeprom-access: no
supports-register-dump: no
supports-priv-flags: no

The virtio_net is part of KVM. The /proc/scsi/scsi tells you that you're in a VM, and that you're most likely KVM.


Using the following commands grep'ing through dmesg log.

$ sudo dmesg | grep -i virtual
  • VMWare

    VMware vmxnet virtual NIC driver
     Vendor: VMware    Model: Virtual disk      Rev: 1.0 
    hda: VMware Virtual IDE CDROM Drive, ATAPI CD/DVD-ROM drive
  • QEmu or KVM

    If the "-cpu host" option has not been used, QEmu and KVM will identify themselves as:

    CPU: AMD QEMU Virtual CPU version 0.9.1 stepping 03

    otherwise, the host's CPU information will be used both in dmesg, or in /proc/cpuinfo. However, you should see something like:

    [    0.000000] Booting paravirtualized kernel on KVM

    In newer kernels that understand that they're running under paravirtualization.

  • Microsoft VirtualPC

    hda: Virtual HD, ATA DISK drive
    hdc: Virtual CD, ATAPI CD/DVD-ROM drive
  • Xen

    $ sudo dmesg | grep -i xen
    Xen virtual console successfully installed as tty1
  • Virtuozzo

    # method #1
    $ sudo dmesg
    (returns no output)
    # method #2
    $ sudo cat /var/log/dmesg
    (returns no output)
    # method #3
    $ sudo ls -al /proc/vz
    veinfo  veinfo_redir  veredir  vestat  vzaquota  vzdata


  • That kind of poking around drivers is what I hoped to avoid: it'll be different for every VM technology and dependent on the settings. The product name reported by lshw -class system and dmidecode is exactly what I was hoping to find. Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 22:58
  • @Gilles - yeah I didn't mean for you to actual use them, only to capture the methods. I'm bringing up a Virtual Box and VMWare instances now to confirm the lshw output as well for those platforms. Give me a couple of minutes and I'll update the A.
    – slm
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 23:08
  • @Gilles - looks like lshw can do the job as well for all the technologies. I've moved the answers to the bottom of the answer that weren't what you were looking so that others won't have to skip past them.
    – slm
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 1:22
  • dmesg fills a fixed size ring buffer with all kinds of stuff. It is completely inappropriate for this task. See unix.stackexchange.com/a/257207/106572 Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 17:43
  • @Martin - and that's why it's in the less desirable section of my answer. I typically write answers that are all inclusive, showing a variety of methods.
    – slm
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 17:55

The virt-what script seems to cover most cases well...

I do like the disclaimer from the authors:

Most of the time, using this program is the wrong thing to do. Instead you should detect the specific features you actually want to use.

It's appeared on my EL5 and EL6 systems for the past few years as part of default installations. Ubuntu has it, and the source is available as well.

The facts detected by the script are listed here, but can easily be extended for edge cases.

  • Link? Which systems does it recognize? Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 13:50
  • 1
    @Gilles Edited: But the script generally detects KVM, Xen, QEMU, VirtualBox, Parallels, OpenVZ, IBM System Z, LPAR, z/VM, Hitachi Virtage, VMWare, Microsoft Hyper-V. Hmm... should LXC be included?
    – ewwhite
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 14:34
  • LXC is included now.
    – ewwhite
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 13:24
  • As of January 2016, it fails with Docker. See unix.stackexchange.com/a/257207/106572 Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 17:26

hostnamectl is your friend (requires systemd).

A few examples:

Laptop without any virtualization

$ hostnamectl status
   Static hostname: earth.gangs.net
         Icon name: computer-laptop
           Chassis: laptop
        Machine ID: 18a0752e1ccbeef09da51ad17fab1f1b
           Boot ID: beefdc99969e4a4a8525ff842b383c62
  Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS
            Kernel: Linux 4.4.0-66-generic
      Architecture: x86-64


$ hostnamectl status
   Static hostname: pluto.gangs.net
         Icon name: computer-vm
           Chassis: vm
        Machine ID: beef39aebbf8ba220ed0438b54497609
           Boot ID: beefc71e97ed48dbb436a470fe1920e1
    Virtualization: xen
  Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS
            Kernel: Linux 3.13.0-37-generic
      Architecture: x86-64


$ hostnamectl status
   Static hostname: mars.gangs.net
         Icon name: computer-container
           Chassis: container
        Machine ID: 55296cb0566a4aaca10b8e3a4b28beef
           Boot ID: 1bb259b0eb064d9eb8a22d112211beef
    Virtualization: openvz
  Operating System: CentOS Linux 7 (Core)
       CPE OS Name: cpe:/o:centos:centos:7
            Kernel: Linux 2.6.32-042stab120.16
      Architecture: x86-64


$ hostnamectl status
   Static hostname: mercury.gangs.net
         Icon name: computer-vm
           Chassis: vm
        Machine ID: beeffefc50ae499881b024c25895ec86
           Boot ID: beef9c7662a240b3b3b04cef3d1518f0
    Virtualization: kvm
  Operating System: CentOS Linux 7 (Core)
       CPE OS Name: cpe:/o:centos:centos:7
            Kernel: Linux 3.10.0-514.10.2.el7.x86_64
      Architecture: x86-64
  • 1
    how does the OS determine if it is running inside a virtual machine? it shouldn't, I have installed a very basic debian from command line and hostnamectl shows Virtualization: oracle regardless I have not installed any paravirtualization | Virtualbox guest additions
    – user202754
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 3:51
isVMware() { [[ $(dmidecode -s system-manufacturer) = 'VMware, Inc.' ]]; }
isXen   () { [[ $(dmidecode -s system-manufacturer) = 'Xen'          ]]; }
isKVM   () { [[ $(dmidecode -s system-product-name) = 'KVM'          ]]; }
isVBox  () { [[ $(dmidecode -s system-product-name) = 'VirtualBox'   ]]; }
isVM    () { isVMware || isXen || isKVM || isVBox; }

Those are the tests we use at my company.


If you get the person you're helping to install facter, you can do

facter virtual

No root access needed.

Debian Guest on Debian host:

[user@guest]$ facter virtual

I can't vouch for how well this would work with Xen/KVM/Qemu...


In "recent" linux kernels, the kernel detects the hypervisor for you and prints a message that is easily available with dmesg. This will tell you simply:

dmesg | grep "Hypervisor detected"

For example:

$ dmesg | grep "Hypervisor detected"
Hypervisor detected: VMware

As for what "recent" means, I am unclear which kernel version it was officially released in, but the commit that introduced this feature in the code base was on May 7, 2010. See here.



This will detect the type of virtualization technology used, and output it.


Distinguishing between machine virtualization and container virtualization

Use the --container and --vm options to limit the type of virtualization that is detected.

Exit codes

If you just want to know if virtualization is detected or not, without the specifics, then it's easier to check the exit code. It will return exit code 0 if virtualization is detected, and non-zero otherwise.


Sometimes it's tricky :)

root@server:~# dmidecode -s system-product-name

root@server:~# dmidecode | egrep -i 'manufacturer|product|vendor'
        Vendor: Bochs
        Manufacturer: Bochs
        Product Name: Bochs
        Manufacturer: Bochs
        Manufacturer: Bochs
        Manufacturer: Bochs
        Manufacturer: Bochs
        Manufacturer: Bochs

root@server:~# virt-what
root@server:~# dpkg -l |grep virt-what
ii  virt-what                           1.2-1                        detect if we are running in a virtual machine

root@server:~# egrep -i 'virtual|vbox' /var/log/dmesg
[    0.000000] Booting paravirtualized kernel on KVM
[    0.385701] input: Macintosh mouse button emulation as /devices/virtual/input/input0

For VirtualBox, you could lspci | grep -i virtualbox, that gives:

$ lspci | grep -i virtualbox
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: InnoTek Systemberatung GmbH VirtualBox Graphics Adapter
00:04.0 System peripheral: InnoTek Systemberatung GmbH VirtualBox Guest Service

Alternatively, dmidecode -s system-product-name (as @Rahul Patil suggests) is even more direct to the point (but needs root):

$ sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name

For non-KVM QEMU, dmidecode -s system-product-name confusingly returns Bochs, but dmesg | grep -i qemu works (the storage devices that QEMU emulates usually have the name QEMU HARDDISK, QEMU DVD-ROM etc...).


I usually use lscpu from the util-linux package. It reports Hypervisor vendor and Virtualization type.


Debian comes with this small package for detecting virtualisation type:

$ sudo apt-get install virt-what
$ virt-what

and little bigger because of Perl dependencies:

$ sudo apt-get install imvirt
$ imvirt

As usual run:

cat /proc/meminfo
cat /proc/cpuinfo
  • You beat me to imvirt, and I did not known virt-what. would you detail the output of both as previous answers to improve your post? Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 7:04

Apparently virtualization comes in several parts - in my case QEMU, Bochs and KVM (then Ubuntu 14.04). I found the easiest way to discover the hypervisor in use was:

sudo apt-get install virt-what
sudo virt-what

which in my case returned simply kvm which was the basic information I was looking for (also the OP I think), because it tells me what I am allowed to do (e.g. run ipset to block a DDoS attack) and how resources are shared between VMs.

In addition I tried

sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name


sudo lshw -class system

neither of which mention KVM but they did both inform me that my hardware emulation was provided by Bochs which I confess I hadn't even heard of, but a quick search turned up interesting information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bochs). The lshw command is slightly more informative than dmidecode (e.g. telling me it's 64-bit).

The other answers didn't really tell me anything useful - facter virtual just returned physical and ls -1 /dev/disk/by-id/ returned ata-QEMU_DVD-ROM_QM00003 which shows QEMU is involved but I don't have access to the emulated DVD-ROM anyway.


Example, how is this solved in linux-test-project. It might be useful for those who needs this in C code, ideally without much much of dependencies.

  • first it tries external dependency systemd-detect-virt
  • then, XEN is detected via /proc/xen or /sys/hypervisor/type,
  • for KVM it checks "QEMU Virtual CPU" in /proc/cpuinfo with note, that it doesn't work with custom -cpu values, since there's no easy, reasonable or reliable way to work around those.

=> most of the work is done with systemd-detect-virt. src/detect-virt/detect-virt.c shows how to detect other virtualization technologies.


You can look at the file /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/sys_vendor - it should have a relevant value that is either a real hardware vendor - for example, on my laptop it says "Dell Inc." - or a virtual hardware vendor that you can identify - for example, it might say "Amazon EC2" or "QEMU" (under KVM).


My answer is from the Linux kernel perspective.

If you know how to use crash utility, try the following:

In a 4.4 linux kernel dump

crash> p x86_hyper
x86_hyper = $4 = (const struct hypervisor_x86 *) 0xffffffff81b166e0 <x86_hyper_kvm>  

On my kernel 5.12 laptop

crash> p x86_hyper_type      
x86_hyper_type = $1 = X86_HYPER_NATIVE  

For your system, you need to read codes related to detect_hypervisor_vendor().

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