LibVMI Installation Instructions


LibVMI is designed for looking at 32-bit or 64-bit x86 virtual machines running on Xen or KVM. It also works with physical memory snapshots saved to a file. LibVMI should work with all recent Xen versions (3.x through 4.1), with KVM using a patched version of QEMU-KVM or the GDB interface, and with any physical memory snapshot. Please report your success and problems using the contact information for the VMI Tools project so that we can continue to make this a better tool for everyone. You can get the latest released version of LibVMI from the download section of this website.

Building LibVMI

For detailed instructions, please see the README file included with your LibVMI release. The instructions below provide a general overview of the LibVMI installation process. Before compiling LibVMI, make sure that you have a standard development environment installed including gcc, make, autoconf, etc. You will also need the follow dependencies (note, you can build LibVMI without support for one of its virtualization platforms if you would rather not install all of the dependencies for that platform):

  • (Xen only) libxc

  • (Xen only) libxenstore

  • (KVM only) libvirt

  • yacc or bison

  • lex or flex

  • glib version 2.16 or newer

LibVMI uses the standard GNU build system. To compile the library, follow the steps shown below:


Note that you can specify options to the configure script to specify, for example, the installation location. Of note is the “–disable-xen” and “–disable-kvm” options, which allow you to build LibVMI without support for Xen or KVM, respectively. If the configure script doesn’t find a library that is required for only one virtualization platform, then it will automatically disable the associated virtualization platform. The results of configure are displayed to stdout so you can verify that everything is as you intended before proceeding with the compilation. For a complete list of configure options, run:

./configure --help

Installing LibVMI

Installation is optional. This is useful if you will be developing code to use the LibVMI library. However, if you are just running the examples, then there is no need to do an installation. If you choose to install LibVMI, you can do it using the steps shown below:

su -
make install

Configuring LibVMI

In order to work properly, LibVMI requires that you install a configuration file into either $HOME/etc/libvmi.conf or /etc/libvmi.conf. This file has a set of entries for each virtual machine or memory image that LibVMI will access. These entries specify things such as the OS type (e.g., Linux or Windows), the location of symbolic information, and offsets used to access data within the virtual machine or memory image. The file format is relatively straightforward. The generic format is shown below:

<VM Name or Filename> {
    <key> = <value>;
    <key> = <value>;

The VM name is what appears when you use the “xm list,” “xl list,” or “virsh list” commands. The filename is the filename of the memory image without the entire path. There are 9 different keys available for use. The ostype is used by both Linux and Windows targets. The sysmap is only used for Linux targets. The others specify offsets such that the linux_* values are required for Linux and the win_* values are required for Windows. The available keys are listed below:

  • ostype Linux or Windows guests are supported.

  • sysmap The path to the file for the VM. Note that this file must be copied into the dom0 or host VM from the domU or guest VM so that LibVMI can access it.

  • linux_tasks The number of bytes (offset) from the start of the struct until task_struct->tasks from linux/sched.h in the target’s kernel.

  • linux_mm Offset to task_struct->mm.

  • linux_pid Offset to task_struct->pid.

  • linux_pgd Offset to mm_struct->pgd.

  • win_tasks Offset to EPROCESS->ActiveProcessLinks.

  • win_pdbase Offset to EPROCESS->Pcb->DirectoryTableBase.

  • win_pid Offset to EPROCESS->UniqueProcessId.

Instructions and scripts helpful for determining these offsets for a specific guest can be found in the libvmi package. The tools for Linux guests are in libvmi/tools/linux-offset-finder and Windows guests are in libvmi/tools/windows-offset-finder.

All of the offsets can be specified in either hex or decimal. For hex, the number should be preceded with a “0x”. An example configuration file is shown below:

Fedora-HVM {
    sysmap      = "/boot/";
    ostype      = "Linux";
    linux_tasks = 268;
    linux_mm    = 276;
    linux_pid   = 312;
    linux_pgd   = 40;

WinXPSP2 {
    ostype      = "Windows";
    win_tasks   = 0x88;
    win_pdbase  = 0x18;
    win_pid     = 0x84;

You can specify as many targets as you wish in this configuration file. When you are done creating this file, it must be saved to either $HOME/etc/libvmi.conf or /etc/libvmi.conf. With the configuration file in place, you are now ready to start using LibVMI.


LibVMI includes the ability to show debugging output. This output is very verbose, but may be useful when tracking down bugs in your application or in LibVMI itself. To enable the debug output, uncomment the VMI_DEBUG variable near the top of the libvmi/debug.h file. After uncommenting this variable, you will need to recompile LibVMI (and, optionally, reinstall LibVMI). With the debug output enabled, you will see lots of information on stdout about LibVMI’s operation.

If you are requesting help from the developers, please send the debug output – preferably a full debug trace attached to your email or issue ticket – along with your question as it will be easier to diagnose your problem this way.

When troubleshooting your application, it is best to be able to see what is going on. If you think that the problem is within LibVMI, you can try enabling the debug output to identify the problem. If you think that you have found a bug in LibVMI, please send an email with this debug output and a description of the bug to the mailing list.

If you want to see the memory maping by your application, consider using the vmi_print_hex function. This function allows you to easily print the hex and ascii values from a region of memory to stdout, which can often simplify debugging.