How to get bhyve to work on FreeBSD

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get this done for years. I finally got it working today. Here are my notes and steps taken from multiple resources on the internet and making this better.

I’ll admit the this video finally got me over the edge.

NOTE: These commands all have to be run as root.

1) First thing first, install grub2-bhyve. This allows for the Linux kernel to boot and is required.

pkg install grub2-bhyve

2) Next, verify your kernel settings:


Look for: vmm.ko if not:

kldload vmm

Look for: nmdm.ko if not:

kldload nmdm

Look for: if_bridge.ko if not:

kldload if_bridge

Look for: if_tap.ko if not:

kldload if_tap

3) Create some sysctl values to allow for networking to work:

sysctl net.inet.ip.forwarding=1

If you want to make it permanent (you probably do), which you should echo these out:

echo '' >> /etc/sysctl.conf
echo 'net.inet.ip.forwarding=1' >> /etc/sysctl.conf

4) Edit your boot/loader.conf file by adding:


5) Create some remote terminals by adding to /etc/remote:

echo 'vm1:dv=/dev/nmdb0B:br#9600:pa=none:' >> /etc/remote

6) Create the tap, bridge file:

ifconfig tap1 create
ifconfig bridge0 create

7) Add the tap to the bridge:

ifconfig bridge0 addm tap1

8) Add your network device to your bridge, (whatever has your ip address with ifconfig is what you add here. Mine was re0.

ifconfig bridge0 addm tap1 addm re0 up

9) Create the place for your VM to live.

mkdir -p /vms/vm1
mkdir -p /vms/iso # put your ISOs here :)
cd /vms/vm1

10) Create a fake hard drive .img for your vm, this example is a 10g hard drive.

truncate -s 10g hdd1.img

11) Create a file, this tells where the hard drive and CDROM is for booting.

(hd0) /vms/vm1/hdd1.img
(cd0) /vms/iso/debian-9.9.0-amd64-netinst.iso

12) Lets boot your new machine!

This sets the grub and memory, hit enter again with the installer it will drop you to another terminal.

grub-bhyve -r cd0 -m /vms/vm1/ -M 4096 vm1

In that terminal run something like the following.

bhyve -c 1 -m 4096 -H -P -A \
-l com1,/dev/nmdm0A \
-s 0:0,hostbridge \
-s 1:0,lpc \
-s 2:0,virtio-net,tap1 \
-s 3,ahci-cd,/vms/iso/debian-9.9.0-amd64-netinst.iso \
-s 4,virtio-blk,/vms/vm1/hdd1.img vm1 &

Open up another terminal to this machine and run:

cu -l /dev/nmdm0B

Press enter again and you should see the installer screen. Take a breath, you successfully have booted your vm with your installer iso, go ahead and install like normally would, when you reboot the console will die, that’s ok.

13) Kill the bhyve vm, to make sure everything is in a clean state.

bhyvectl --destroy --vm=vm1

14) Create a script (like to boot your machine from now on, take step 12 and edit it:


grub-bhyve -r hd0,msdos1 -m /vms/vm1/ -M 4096 vm1

bhyve -c 1 -m 4096 -H -P -A \
-l com1,/dev/nmdm0A \
-s 0:0,hostbridge \
-s 1:0,lpc \
-s 2:0,virtio-net,tap1 \
-s 4,virtio-blk,/vms/vm1/hdd1.img vm1 &

Create a script to stop also (like


bhyvectl --destroy --vm=vm1

15) Go ahead and chmod +x the previous scripts and run your startup script. If you closed your serial port you can open it up again too:

cu -l /dev/nmdm0B # optional if you closed it

Check for your IP, and you can ssh into your machine now! (if you need a GUI install xrdp seems to work)

16) How to set network devices to auto boot. Open up your rc.conf file on your host machine and add:

##### byhve settings
cloned_interfaces="bridge0 tap1"
ifconfig_bridge0="addm re0 addm tap1 up"

If you would like an auto for the vms, you will need to add startup script for the