Run Kata Containers on a Service VM

This tutorial describes how to install, configure, and run Kata Containers on the ACRN Service VM. In this configuration, Kata Containers leverage the ACRN hypervisor instead of QEMU which is used by default. Refer to the Kata Containers with ACRN presentation from a previous ACRN Project Technical Community Meeting for more details on Kata Containers and how the integration with ACRN has been done.


  1. Refer to the ACRN supported hardware.
  2. For a default prebuilt ACRN binary in the E2E package, you must have 4 CPU cores or enable “CPU Hyper-Threading” in order to have 4 CPU threads for 2 CPU cores.
  3. Follow these instructions to set up the ACRN Service VM.

Install Docker

$ sudo swupd bundle-add containers-basic
$ sudo systemctl enable docker
$ sudo systemctl start docker

Install Kata Containers

The Kata Containers installation from Clear Linux’s official repository does not work with ACRN at the moment. Therefore, you must install Kata Containers using the manual installation instructions (using a rootfs image).

  1. Install the build dependencies.

    $ sudo swupd bundle-add go-basic devpkg-elfutils
  2. Install Kata Containers.

    At a high level, the manual installation steps are:

    1. Build and install the Kata runtime.
    2. Create and install a rootfs.
    3. Build and install the Kata Containers kernel.
    4. Build and install the Kata proxy.
    5. Build and install the Kata shim.

Configure Kata on ACRN

After the core components are installed on the system, the next step is to configure them to work seamlessly together. This includes two parts.

  1. Configure Docker to recognize the kata-runtime as an additional runtime available for use.

  2. Configure Kata to use ACRN.

    $ sudo mkdir -p /etc/kata-containers
    $ sudo cp /usr/share/defaults/kata-containers/configuration-acrn.toml /etc/kata-containers/configuration.toml

Verify that these configurations are effective by checking the following outputs:

$ sudo docker info | grep runtime
WARNING: the devicemapper storage-driver is deprecated, and will be
removed in a future release.
WARNING: devicemapper: usage of loopback devices is strongly discouraged
for production use.
         Use `--storage-opt dm.thinpooldev` to specify a custom block storage device.
Runtimes: kata-runtime runc
$ kata-runtime kata-env | awk -v RS= '/\[Hypervisor\]/'
  MachineType = ""
  Version = "DM version is: 1.5-unstable-"2020w02.5.140000p_261" (daily tag:"2020w02.5.140000p"), build by mockbuild@2020-01-12 08:44:52"
  Path = "/usr/bin/acrn-dm"
  BlockDeviceDriver = "virtio-blk"
  EntropySource = "/dev/urandom"
  Msize9p = 0
  MemorySlots = 10
  Debug = false
  UseVSock = false
  SharedFS = ""

Run a Kata Container with ACRN

The system is now ready to run a Kata Container on ACRN. Note that a reboot is recommended after the installation.

Before running a Kata Container on ACRN, you must offline at least one CPU:

$ curl -O
$ chmod +x ./
$ sudo ./

Start a Kata Container on ACRN:

$ sudo docker run -ti --runtime=kata-runtime busybox sh

If you run into problems, contact us on the ACRN mailing list and provide as much detail as possible about the issue. The output of sudo docker info and kata-runtime kata-env is useful.