How to install multiple VMs using Multipass on Ubuntu 20.04

Multipass is a platform developed by Canonical to launch and run Ubuntu virtual machines while offering a user the ability to configure them with cloud-init like a public cloud. Here we learn how to install Multipass on Ubuntu 20.04 Linux and use the same to launch Virtual machine instance.

Although when it comes to launching lightweight pre-built virtual machine images with just a command, Docker comes to mind, however, Multipass could be another option for those who love to work on Ubuntu Server. Yes, if you want to launch Ubuntu Linux command line server VMs instantly on Windows, Linux and macOS then cross-platform Multipass is one of the good options to consider.

Steps to Install and Use Multipass on Ubuntu 20.04

The following steps can be used for Ubuntu 18.04/21.04 including Linux Mint, MX Linux, Elementary OS, Zorin OS, and Debian.

1. Run system update

Just to update existing packages and for rebuilding repo cache, in the terminal run the system update command:

sudo apt update


2. Install Multipass on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Multipass is available via SNAP packages, thus to install it we should have Snapd on our system. The good thing is all the latest versions of Ubuntu comes with SNAP installed out of the box, thus simply run the below command:

sudo snap install multipass


3. Find Ubuntu VM on Multipass

There are multiple versions of Ubuntu Linux including some common web applications to install and launch as a virtual machine on Multipass.

We can see all the images of available VM instances using a command:

multipass find

While doing this article following images were available to use:

Image             Aliases       Version           Description
snapcraft:core18                20201111          Snapcraft builder for Core 18
snapcraft:core20                20201111          Snapcraft builder for Core 20
snapcraft:core                  20210208          Snapcraft builder for Core 16
core              core16        20200818          Ubuntu Core 16
core18                          20200812          Ubuntu Core 18
16.04             xenial        20210128          Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
18.04             bionic        20210129          Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
20.04             focal,lts     20210223          Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
20.10             groovy        20210209          Ubuntu 20.10
daily:21.04       devel,hirsute 20210223          Ubuntu 21.04
appliance:adguard-home          20200812          Ubuntu AdGuard Home Appliance
appliance:mosquitto             20200812          Ubuntu Mosquitto Appliance
appliance:nextcloud             20200812          Ubuntu Nextcloud Appliance
appliance:openhab               20200812          Ubuntu openHAB Home Appliance
appliance:plexmediaserver       20200812          Ubuntu Plex Media Server Appliance


4. Launch Instance Images

Once you decided which version of Ubuntu or Appliance you want to install as Virtual machines, use the Launch command of multipass, i.e-

multipass launch --name vm-name "Image Aliases"

In the above syntax replace VM-name with some label or name you want to give your virtual machine and at the place of “Image ” type the VM Image you want to use.

For example– we want to create a virtual machine on multipass of Core Ubuntu 18.04 and to identify the same, we will give it a label h2slinux. The Image ID you can find in the previous step of this article.

multipass launch --name h2slinus "core18"


5. Check VM  Version

Once the installation is completed, we can check its version without actually connecting it, to know exactly which version of Image has been installed:

multipass exec vm-name -- lsb_release -a


multipass info vm-name

Replace vm-name with your given machine label

Example: multipass exec h2slinus -- lsb_release -a


5.  Run Multipass installed VM instance Shell

Well, we have created and installed the VM instance of Core Ubuntu 18, now it’s time to connect and open a shell prompt on an instance. For that we in your command terminal type

multipass shell VM-name

Replace the VM-name in the above syntax with the label you have given while creating a virtual machine.

For example in our case it is h2slinus, thus the command will be:

multiplass shell h2slinus

Install and run Multipass VM on Ubuntu 20.04


6. Stop and Start VM

If you require to start and stop any of the installed VMs then we can use the following commands:

multipass stop vm-name

multipass start vm-name


7.  Delete VMs

When the motive behind creating the Multipass VMs is completed, we can delete any of the installed one to free up space:

multipass delete vm-name

To clean

multipass purge


8.  To see all installed Virtual Machines

List all the VMs using this syntax:

multipass list


9. Mount Multipass VM on the host to share data

If you want to transfer some data from the host machine to the guest VM created on Multiplass then we can do that easily by mounting it on the host system.

multipass mount $HOMEvm-name

Example: We want to mount our VM called h2slinus’s home directory on our host i.e Ubuntu 20.04 here, thus the command will be:

multipass mount $HOME h2slinus

You can mount the VM’s home directory to some particular folder path as well. Such as

multipass mount $HOME h2slinus:/folder/path

Replace h2slinus with your instance name and /folder/path where you want to mount it.

After running the above command on the host terminal, the home directory will common for both guest and host. Whatever file or folder we save in the /home the directory can be accessed by the Multipass guest VM as well.

You can check that by typing:

multiplass info vm-name



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