Increasing a libvirt/KVM virtual machine disk capacity

There’s a bunch of howto’s on the internet for increasing the size of a virtual disk of a VM. Of course the best is to use the very useful libguestfs-tools options but there’s been some improvement in tools like sfdisk so I thought I’d document what I did for reference using tools I already had installed.

First shutdown the VM. Once it’s shutdown you need to work out where the disk is located. As this VM is running from my local machine and is just using a raw disk this is straight forward. You can get the details from the virt-manager GUI or virsh dumpxml VM-Name.

Next up we use qemu-img, it’s installed by default with the libvirt stack, to add the extra space we need, in theory this can be done with the VM online, this is a random test VM so online time doesn’t matter, and of course if the VM matters to you there should be a proper backup done first! The fdisk isn’t necessary, it just allows you to see that the extra space is there.

# qemu-img /var/lib/libvirt/images/VM-Name.raw +4G
# fdisk -l /var/lib/libvirt/images/VM-Name.raw
Disk /var/lib/libvirt/images/VM-Name.raw: 8 GiB, 8589934592 bytes, 16777216 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0xe8b201aa

Device                                            Boot   Start     End Sectors Size Id Type
/var/lib/libvirt/images/VM-Name.raw1 *       2048 2099199 2097152   1G 83 Linux
/var/lib/libvirt/images/VM-Name.raw2      2099200 8388607 6289408   3G 83 Linux

Now power up the VM, login as root (or use sudo) for the next bits on the VM. The sfdisk tool has had a bunch of improvements over the last few years for partitioning. If you’ve not used it or looked at it recently I recommend checking the well written man page. Here I’m just expanding last partition (partition 2) on the disk to the maximum size the disk offers. For all the other possibilities “man sfdisk” is your friend!

# echo ", +" | sfdisk -N 2 /dev/vda --no-reread
# partprobe
# resize2fs /dev/vda2

And with that you should be good to go, df and friends will show you the new space, no reboot needed! The VM I have here is very basic partitions, no LVM etc so straight forward, if you have LVM there’s lots of docs on how to deal with that elsewhere.

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