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Disposable Virtual Machines in 3 commands with Multipass


Virtual environments are invaluable tools for developers be they data scientists, software/cloud/DevOps engineers and system administrators. They provide you with quick disposable environments for experimentation, testing and endless fresh starts.

Multipass released by Canonical has presented itself as a fresh and easy to use tool inside of this domain. Which I now use on a daily basis over similar tools for VMs! So what exactly makes it so great? (Beyond VMs for M1 MacBooks!)

Simple to install

It is a one-liner to install in most cases:

Simple to use

You can manage the entire VM lifecycle with 3 commands:

  • Spin up an ubuntu 20.04 VM multipass launch 20.04
  • Enter the VM terminal prompt multipass shell <vm name>
  • Delete the VM multipass delete <vm name>

Simple VM customisation

  • launch VM with 2 cpus multipass launch 20.04 --cpus 2
  • launch VM with 1GB memory multipass launch 20.04 --mem 1G
  • launch VM with 5GB disk multipass launch 20.04 --disk 5G

Simple file transfers

  • mount a host directory to VM multipass mount /host/path <vm name>:/some/path
  • transfer a file from host to VM multipass transfer <vm name>:/tmp/
  • transfer a file from VM to host multipass transfer <vm name>:/root/ /path/on/host

Simple clean up (and recovery)

  • Delete a VM multipass delete <vm name>
  • Permanently delete all VMs multipass purge
  • Recover a deleted VM multipass recover <vm name>

Multipass in Action

Here is a demo of multipass in action to show how simple it is.

To Conclude

Multipass is a super simple but powerful tool to spin up VMs and destroy them in very few CLI lines. Its beauty is in its simplicity, as you can imagine it saves you time by letting you spin up VMs for quick experiments locally rather than on cloud instances, it could provide a disposable environment to run a local data pipeline or even form a part of CI/CD pipeline. You could use it to test your DevOps configuration scripts or experiment with cluster technology setups. Of course, your creativity is your limit, just know it's easy from start to finish with Multipass.

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Pritesh Tailor

Devops Engineer, previsico

DevOps/Cloud engineer and a specialist in Scientific and High-Performance Computing with a PhD in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry.
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