Installing Alpine in a virtual machine

From Alpine Linux

This page will walk you through how to setup a virtual machine for AlpineLinux installation


This guide describes a standard install of Alpine within a Virtual Box VM. (virtual machine)

Oracle VM VirtualBox runs one or more virtual x86 or x64 guests on a host computer.
This enables you to install and test Alpine on your main computer almost as you would any other program.


Install Virtual Box on host

First you'll need to download and install Virtual Box on your host computer. Either from the official homepage (for Windows, OS X or Solaris) or from your distribution’s repository (for Linux).

Virtual Box consists of two components:

  • VirtualBox platform package
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack

Install both and start VirtualBox to check for proper operation. If you have problems, consult the VirtualBox user manual or one of the support sites for Virtual Box.

Download Alpine

Download the Virtual Alpine ISO, which is optimized for virtual systems, from the Alpine Download section. Save it in a location where you can find it easily.

Setting up virtual PC

Start Virtual Box. You will see a mostly empty window with a couple symbols in the upper left corner. The leftmost icon is a multi pointed star. If you hover your mouse over it, the tooltip will say “New”.

Click on the multi pointed star to create a new machine. A window will pop up, asking you some questions about the virtual (guest) computer you want to create.

  1. Name: Choose anything you like. e.g. “Alpine”.
  2. Type: Linux
  3. Version: Other Linux, either 64 bit or 32 bit. Choose 64 bit if you downloaded the x86_64 Alpine-ISO, or 32 bit if you downloaded the x86 Alpine-ISO.
  4. Use the default values for the other questions, simply click “next” or “create” until the dialogue finishes.

You will see a new entry in Virtual Box, called Alpine (or the name you chose during step 1 in the dialogue above). Click on it for more information about your guest.

One of the entries should read Mass storage, and offer an IDE controller with a primary master (the virtual hard disc) and a secondary master (the virtual optical drive).

Click on the secondary master. A context menu will pop up. Select the entry “choose image” and open the Alpine ISO you downloaded earlier.

Once that is done, click on the green start arrow on the menu bar.

Install Alpine on the virtual computer

Follow the steps described in the Installation Handbook, just as if you were installing Alpine on a real PC.

Tip: Do not reboot your virtual box after the installation. Instead, shut down the virtual machine, remove the Alpine ISO from the virtual optical drive, then restart the virtual machine.

Install drivers for Virtual Box

Once you successfully reboot into the Alpine VM, there are two steps left:

  1. Enable the Community Respository
  2. Enable VirtualBox shared folders

These two steps install all drivers that other programs might request, and activate several comfort functions.

Note: The Virtualbox webcam driver is not present in the kernel provided with the Virtual Alpine ISO. To use the webcam whilst keeping the installation footprint small, install the linux-firmware-none package using apk, then install the linux-lts package to download a kernel with the appropriate drivers without pulling in hundreds of MB of uneeded firmware files. Uninstall the linux-virt package and reboot to use the new kernel.


Before You Start

  • Download the latest Alpine image.
  • Install QEMU on your system (e.g. sudo apt install qemu on Ubuntu, yum -y install qemu on Fedora)

If you are using Alpine Linux, you can install:

# apk add qemu qemu-img qemu-system-x86_64 qemu-ui-gtk

Create the Virtual Machine

Create a disk image if you want to install Alpine Linux.

qemu-img create -f qcow2 alpine.qcow2 8G

The following command starts QEMU with the Alpine ISO image as CDROM, the default network configuration, 512MB RAM, the disk image that was created in the previous step, and CDROM as the boot device.

qemu-system-x86_64 -m 512 -nic user -boot d -cdrom alpine-standard-3.20.2-x86_64.iso -hda alpine.qcow2 -display gtk -enable-kvm

Tip: Remove option -enable-kvm if your hardware does not support this.

Log in as root (no password) and run:


Follow the setup-alpine installation steps.

Run poweroff to shut down the machine.

Booting the Virtual Machine

After the installation, QEMU can be started from disk image (-boot c) without CDROM.

qemu-system-x86_64 -m 512 -nic user -hda alpine.qcow2


See instructions for installing Alpine on VMware and VMware ESXi.

See Also