The bhyve hypervisor

bhyve, pronounced beehive, is a hypervisor/virtual machine manager that supports most processors which have hardware virtualisation support.


bhyve was originally integrated into FreeBSD by NetApp in around 2011 where it became part of the base system with FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE. It continued to evolve and was ported to illumos by Pluribus Networks in around 2013 and they contributed the resulting code to the illumos community in late 2017. From there, Joyent worked on integrating bhyve into their illumos fork, bringing it up-to-date with bhyve from FreeBSD-11.1 and making many improvements along the way. The intention that they have stated is for them to continue to work closely with the FreeBSD maintainers so that improvements make it back where appropriate. Some slides on Joyent’s work in this area were presented at bhyvecon 2018

With many thanks to all of the above, bhyve has been integrated into OmniOS and is available from release v11 r151028.


What is the status of bhyve in OmniOS

bhyve is supported from release r151028.

Why bhyve?

OmniOS already has a type-2 hypervisor, KVM, so why are we introducing bhyve?

  • bhyve already has significantly better performance than KVM and tuning continues;
  • Joyent are putting a lot of development time into bhyve and this looks like their future direction for SmartOS;
  • KVM uses QEMU in userspace which is a large general-purpose CPU emulator; this is a case where simpler is better - bhyve is streamlined and single-purpose;
  • illumos KVM is fairly old now and the upstream in Linux has changed a lot since it was first ported; to the point where re-syncing would effectively require another major porting effort;
  • The bhyve licence is compatible with illumos meaning that it can be fully integrated rather than having to remain separate as KVM does;
  • It will be easier to keep up-to-date with upstream changes in FreeBSD and to contribute improvements back.

What’s the future of KVM in OmniOS?

We have no immediate plans to remove KVM from OmniOS although we would encourage moving to bhyve once it is stable and supports your guest operating system.

What host Processors are supported?

bhyve on OmniOS comes with a utility to test for processor support (see below), but most intel processors with Extended Page Table (EPT) support will work. Refer to Intel’s processor search tool for a complete list.

bhyve also supports AMD processors with SVM and nested paging support.

To check if bhyve will work on your hardware, download the bhhwcompat utility from

% curl -o /tmp/bhhwcompat
% chmod +x /tmp/bhhwcompat
% pfexec /tmp/bhhwcompat
CPU vendor string: GenuineIntel
... CPU supports VMX
... VMX support is enabled in BIOS
... VMX supports EPT
... VMX supports VPID
... VNX supports single INVEPT
... VMX supports all INVEPT

bhyve is supported on this system.

Which guest operating systems are supported?

bhyve supports many operating systems including OmniOS, SmartOS, *BSD, Linux, and Windows.

Can I run KVM and bhyve at the same time?

Yes, KVM and bhyve can run concurrently as of OmniOS r151028.


bhyve is supported via a dedicated zone brand. Virtual machines run within a non-global zone to which resource controls can be applied if desired. Please refer to our bhyve and KVM branded zone documentation for more information.


If you have any problems or questions, please get in touch via the lobby or #omnios on