QEMU arm64

The existing arm64 kernels for the RPi and IMX.8 are unsuitable for use in hardware-accelerated VMs because they rely on specific CPU features (such as 64K page sizes and physical timers) which are not available on all hypervisors (such as Apple’s Hypervisor.framework). Additionally, they do not support QEMU-emulated hardware such as the ECAM-based PCIe bus nor VirtIO drivers.

Thankfully, there is a community kernel which provides all the modifications available to run fully hardware-accelerated VMs via KVM (Linux) or Hypervisor.framework (macOS) through QEMU.

Kernel Build and Installation Image

Clone and build the kernel:

   cd /sys/src/9/
   git/clone git://
   cd qemu

Then, on a host machine, download the MNT Reform image which is suitable as a base system (available in the Downloads section).


Create a plan9.ini which describes the QEMU configuration (this is required because the kernel does not parse device trees for memory and CPU topology), e.g. for 4 CPUs and 4GB of RAM:


Create an installation disk:

   qemu-img create -f qcow2 9front.qcow2 64G

Perform an install e.g. for macOS Hypervisor.framework:

   qemu-system-aarch64 -M virt-2.12,accel=hvf,gic-version=3 \
          -cpu host -smp 4 -m 4G \
          -device loader,file=9qemu,addr=0x40200000,force-raw=on,cpu-num=0 \
          -device loader,file=plan9.ini,addr=0x40100000,force-raw=on \
          -drive file=9front.reform.img,format=raw,if=none,id=reform \
          -drive file=9front.qcow2,if=none,id=disk \
          -device virtio-blk-pci-non-transitional,drive=reform \
          -device virtio-blk-pci-non-transitional,drive=disk \
          -serial stdio