Multipass includes a system tray GUI that makes managing your virtual machines simple and efficient.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Multipass is one of the easiest virtual machine (VM) tools I have ever used. Period. Not only does it make spinning up a VM fast and easy, it makes it incredibly simple to manage those VMs, so you can start developing for your cloud, edge, IoT, or any given type of technology right away. In fact, Multipass includes a system tray tool that makes it possible for you to, with a quick click, start and stop a VM and even enter the VM’s shell.

I’m going to show you just how easy this tool is to use. I’ll be demonstrating on POP!_OS Linux, but the process is the same on any Linux distribution that supports Multipass.

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What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need is a Linux desktop distribution with Multipass installed. If you’ve not already installed Multipass, read: How to use Multipass, a new tool for launching virtual machines.

How to create a virtual machine

If you haven’t already created a virtual machine, you’ll need one before you can manage it from the system tray. Let’s launch a basic VM, based on the latest daily release of Ubuntu. This can be done with the command:

multipass launch --name=ubuntuvm daily:20.04 

This will launch a virtual machine, named ubuntuvm. If you issue the command multipass list, you’ll see the new virtual machine in a running state with an associated IP address  (Figure A).

Figure A

Our ubuntuvm virtual machine is running.

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Our ubuntuvm virtual machine is running.

To gain access to that VM, you would issue the command:

multipass shell ubuntuvm

This will land you inside of the newly launched VM, where you can start developing.

Once you’re finished working, get out of the shell with the exit command and then stop the VM with the command:

multipass stop ubuntuvm

Let’s make it easier

Thanks to the Multipass system tray indicator, you can avoid running those commands to start, enter, and stop your VMs. If you look at your system tray, you’ll see an orange circle with a white M in the center. Click that icon to reveal the Multipass GUI menu (Figure B).

Figure B

The Multipass GUI menu.

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The Multipass GUI menu.

To start the ubuntuvm virtual machine, click ubuntuvm | Start (Figure C).

Figure C

The ubuntuvm menu entries.

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The ubuntuvm menu entries.

Once the VM has started, it will then be listed as running (Figure D).

Figure D

Our ubuntuvm is now running.

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Our ubuntuvm is now running.

With the VM now running, you can access the shell by clicking the Multipass icon and then clicking ubuntuvm | Shell. A new terminal window will open at the bash prompt within the virtual machine (Figure E).

Figure E

We’ve entered the VM without having to type a single command.

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We’ve entered the VM without having to type a single command.

You can now begin working within the virtual machine. Once you’re done, leave the shell via the exit command, which will also close the shell terminal. If you need, you can then stop the VM by clicking the Multipass icon and then clicking ubuntuvm | Stop.

Limitations

The only things you cannot do with the GUI are launching a new virtual machine and deleting an existing virtual machine. Maybe those features will come in future iterations of the software, but in the meantime you’ll have to touch the command line for those two tasks.

Even with the limitations, the Multipass system tray GUI is the tool to use to make this solution an efficient means to work with virtual machines. 

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