Network emulation

QEMU can simulate several network cards (PCI or ISA cards on the PC target) and can connect them to an arbitrary number of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs). Host TAP devices can be connected to any QEMU VLAN. VLAN can be connected between separate instances of QEMU to simulate large networks. For simpler usage, a non privileged user mode network stack can replace the TAP device to have a basic network connection.


QEMU simulates several VLANs. A VLAN can be symbolised as a virtual connection between several network devices. These devices can be for example QEMU virtual Ethernet cards or virtual Host ethernet devices (TAP devices).

Using TAP network interfaces

This is the standard way to connect QEMU to a real network. QEMU adds a virtual network device on your host (called tapN), and you can then configure it as if it was a real ethernet card.

Linux host

As an example, you can download the linux-test-xxx.tar.gz archive and copy the script qemu-ifup in /etc and configure properly sudo so that the command ifconfig contained in qemu-ifup can be executed as root. You must verify that your host kernel supports the TAP network interfaces: the device /dev/net/tun must be present.

See sec_invocation to have examples of command lines using the TAP network interfaces.

Windows host

There is a virtual ethernet driver for Windows 2000/XP systems, called TAP-Win32. But it is not included in standard QEMU for Windows, so you will need to get it separately. It is part of OpenVPN package, so download OpenVPN from :

Using the user mode network stack

By using the option -net user (default configuration if no -net option is specified), QEMU uses a completely user mode network stack (you don’t need root privilege to use the virtual network). The virtual network configuration is the following:

         QEMU VLAN      <------>  Firewall/DHCP server <-----> Internet
                           |          (
                           ---->  DNS server (
                           ---->  SMB server (

The QEMU VM behaves as if it was behind a firewall which blocks all incoming connections. You can use a DHCP client to automatically configure the network in the QEMU VM. The DHCP server assign addresses to the hosts starting from

In order to check that the user mode network is working, you can ping the address and verify that you got an address in the range 10.0.2.x from the QEMU virtual DHCP server.

Note that ICMP traffic in general does not work with user mode networking. ping, aka. ICMP echo, to the local router ( shall work, however. If you’re using QEMU on Linux >= 3.0, it can use unprivileged ICMP ping sockets to allow ping to the Internet. The host admin has to set the ping_group_range in order to grant access to those sockets. To allow ping for GID 100 (usually users group):

echo 100 100 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ping_group_range

When using the built-in TFTP server, the router is also the TFTP server.

When using the ‘-netdev user,hostfwd=...’ option, TCP or UDP connections can be redirected from the host to the guest. It allows for example to redirect X11, telnet or SSH connections.

Connecting VLANs between QEMU instances

Using the -net socket option, it is possible to make VLANs that span several QEMU instances. See sec_invocation to have a basic example.