QEMU's Assortment Of Virtual VGA/GPU Options & What To Pick For Desktop Virtualization

Written by Michael Larabel in Virtualization on 30 September 2019 at 12:17 AM EDT. 25 Comments
The virtual GPU/display landscape particularly for having accelerated guest graphics was once non-existent and then suffering for the open-source Linux virtualization stack around QEMU, but that is no longer the case. There are options these days to rival the GPU/display offerings of VirtualBox and VMware albeit to newcomers may not be so clear.

Longtime QEMU/virtualization developer Gerd Hoffmann has written a blog post outlining the VGA/display devices for QEMU and the recommended options. The options he covers at length include the standard VGA device, Bochs display device, VirtIO VGA, VirtIO GPU, Vhost-user VirtIO GPU, QXL VGA, QXL, Cirrua VGA, ATI VGA, and RAMFB.

The recommended solution for Linux desktop virtualization with QEMU is of course using VirtIO GPU assuming the guest OS you are running has said driver support. With VirtIO GPU support being the newest, QXL VGA is the next best assuming driver support as well otherwise Bochs. For servers where performance and other advanced features aren't necessary, the serial console obviously works for many along with the basic Bochs display option.

Those wishing to learn more about the QEMU display options can do so via Gerd's blog.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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