How to launch an instantly functional Linux desktop VM with LXD


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Besides system containers, LXD supports virtual machines as of the previous 4.0 LTS. This enabled a nifty addition that many are not familiar with: LXD desktop images. These virtual machine images provide an immediately functional desktop environment with no setup needed at all! All you need is a single command.

What you’ll learn

How to launch an instantly functional Linux desktop VM

What you’ll need

  • Ubuntu Desktop 16.04 or above

  • LXD snap installed and running

Initiate an Ubuntu Desktop VM

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To initiate a desktop image we need a single command. We will launch an image from the LXD image server, name the instance Ubuntu, and designate that it should be a VM. Since we’re launching a virtual machine that needs more resources than a simple container, we should increase the CPU and memory limits. Finally, in order to immediately get the video output, we need to add - -console=vga.

The full command for launching an Ubuntu 22.04 VM would then look like this:

lxc launch images:ubuntu/22.04/desktop ubuntu --vm -c limits.cpu=4 -c limits.memory=4GiB --console=vga

These images are bigger than usual, but it should take less than a minute (depending on your internet speed) for the image to be downloaded and launched. You should then get a remote viewer window with your desktop VM, as shown below.

Let’s do one more - Archlinux Desktop VM

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Launching an Archlinux Desktop VM is similar to what we’ve done previously with Ubuntu, with a single addition - disabling secure boot.

The full command for launching an Archlinux VM would then look like this:

lxc launch images:archlinux/desktop-gnome archlinux --vm -c security.secureboot=false -c limits.cpu=4 -c limits.memory=4GiB --console=vga

And again, you should have a fully functional Archlinux VM in under a minute.

It’s that easy

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That’s all, folks. It’s that easy to launch an immediately functioning desktop VM.

Please note: at the time of writing, the available desktop images are: Ubuntu/22.04, Ubuntu/21.10, Ubuntu/20.04, Archlinux/desktop-gnome, Opensuse/15.3/desktop-kde, Opensuse/tumbleweed/desktop-kde.

For an up to date list, you can visit the community image server.

If you’d like to know more about LXD, take a look at the following resources:

If you have further questions or need help, visit the discussion forum.


Are there plans to offer a replacement for the community image server? The instructions above no longer work since the images: remote no longer works for LXD.

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The community image server link (on the final page) needs updating to and for some reason all the pages are listed as step “0” in the header (looking at the CSS it’s trying to inject counter(li) but I think that’s meant to be counter(list-item) instead).

@tommoyer apologies for the late reply, I missed the notification. The replacement server is now available, you either need to update the snap, or add the new remote manually. More info here: New LXD image server available (

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@waveform Thanks, I’ve updated the links. As for the formatting, I don’t know how to fix that

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