Determining version information


When diagnosing other issues, it can be important to know if a problem is due to using an older version of software. For local access to hypervisors that maintain no state in libvirt (such as ESX), there is only one version to worry about - the version of being used by the client software to communicate to the hypervisor. But for hypervisors that maintain state (such as Qemu or LXC), as well as for remote access, there are several versions to be aware of, the client making the connection and the server acting on the commands.

Libvirt's remote protocol is designed to be robust and backwards-compatible, so any action that an older client knows how to request should continue to work no matter how much newer the server is. Conversely, if the client is newer than the server, the protocol guarantees that newly-added requests from the client that are not recognized by the server will safely generate an error. This also applies if both client and server are new enough to recognize a particular API, but the given hypervisor driver has not yet mapped it into use. Remember that many API have a flags parameter, and that well-written hypervisors will return an error if a flag bit is unrecognized.

One more point of confusion stems from the fact that since is a shared library, a client can be compiled against an older set of headers than what is in use by the currently-installed

A common symptom of unimplemented functionality is this error message:

$ virsh -c qemu:///system dompmsuspend dom hybrid
error: Domain dom could not be suspended
error: unknown procedure: 261
$ echo $?


On the server side, the libvirtd log will always start with version information; if you need to file a bug report, this information is a vital clue in deciphering if the real problem is due to unimplemented features in the particular version being run. For example,

$ head -n1 /var/log/libvirt/libvirtd.log
2012-02-13 04:26:44.642+0000: 1494: info : libvirt version: 0.9.9, package: 2.fc16 (Unknown, 2012-01-20-16:00:45,

shows that a server was running a pre-built binary for Fedora 16, with a designation of libvirt-0.9.9-2.fc16 (this particular server was from the fedora-virt-preview repo), and which understands the 0.9.6 API.

Meanwhile, the client side can report several versions:

$ tools/virsh version # just the client side
$ virsh --version=long # more details
Virsh command line tool of libvirt 0.9.10
See web site at

Compiled with support for:
 Hypervisors: Xen QEmu/KVM UML OpenVZ VirtualBox LXC ESX PHYP Test
 Networking: Remote Daemon Network Bridging Netcf Nwfilter VirtualPort
 Storage: Dir Disk Filesystem SCSI Multipath iSCSI LVM
 Miscellaneous: SELinux Secrets Debug DTrace Readline
$ virsh -c qemu:///system version --daemon # get server details, too
Compiled against library: libvir 0.9.10
Using library: libvir 0.9.10
Using API: QEMU 0.9.10
Running hypervisor: QEMU 1.0.0
Running against daemon: 0.9.9

The Hypervisor Support page is useful for tracking down situations where the client knows how to use a particular API, but where the hypervisor driver did not support the call. However, this page does not (yet) detail when support for particular flags was added, if the flags were implemented later than the original API.

For the particular example above, it turns out that virDomainPMSuspendForDuration was implemented in 0.9.10, but while virsh is new enough to know how to use the API, the running server at 0.9.9 doesn't know how to react to it.


In cases of version mismatch, it may be sufficient to upgrade libvirtd to a newer version. It is safe to restart libvirtd to the upgraded version, even while guests continue to run.

Other solutions include writing code to try several fallback mechanisms. virsh is a prime example of this; studying the virsh source code shows several places where the code tries to accommodate older servers. For example, 'virsh undefine --managed-save dom' will start by trying virDomainUndefineFlags(), but if that fails, it will fall back to a two-step sequence of virDomainManagedSaveRemove() before virDomainUndefine().