virt-cat - Display files in a virtual machine


 virt-cat [--options] -d domname file [file ...]

 virt-cat [--options] -a disk.img [-a disk.img ...] file [file ...]


 virt-cat domname file

 virt-cat disk.img file


virt-cat is a command line tool to display the contents of file where file exists in the named virtual machine (or disk image).

Multiple filenames can be given, in which case they are concatenated together. Each filename must be a full path, starting at the root directory (starting with '/').

virt-cat can be used to quickly view a file. To edit a file, use virt-edit. For more complex cases you should look at the guestfish(1) tool (see "USING GUESTFISH" below).


Display /etc/fstab file from inside the libvirt VM called mydomain:

 virt-cat -d mydomain /etc/fstab

List syslog messages from a VM disk image file:

 virt-cat -a disk.img /var/log/messages | tail

Find out what DHCP IP address a VM acquired:

 virt-cat -d mydomain /var/log/messages | \
   grep 'dhclient: bound to' | tail

Find out what packages were recently installed:

 virt-cat -d mydomain /var/log/yum.log | tail

Find out who is logged on inside a virtual machine:

 virt-cat -d mydomain /var/run/utmp > /tmp/utmp
 who /tmp/utmp

or who was logged on:

 virt-cat -d mydomain /var/log/wtmp > /tmp/wtmp
 last -f /tmp/wtmp



Display brief help.

-a file
--add file

Add file which should be a disk image from a virtual machine. If the virtual machine has multiple block devices, you must supply all of them with separate -a options.

The format of the disk image is auto-detected. To override this and force a particular format use the --format=.. option.

-a URI
--add URI

Add a remote disk. See "ADDING REMOTE STORAGE" in guestfish(1).

-c URI
--connect URI

If using libvirt, connect to the given URI. If omitted, then we connect to the default libvirt hypervisor.

If you specify guest block devices directly (-a), then libvirt is not used at all.

-d guest
--domain guest

Add all the disks from the named libvirt guest. Domain UUIDs can be used instead of names.


When prompting for keys and passphrases, virt-cat normally turns echoing off so you cannot see what you are typing. If you are not worried about Tempest attacks and there is no one else in the room you can specify this flag to see what you are typing.


The default for the -a option is to auto-detect the format of the disk image. Using this forces the disk format for -a options which follow on the command line. Using --format with no argument switches back to auto-detection for subsequent -a options.

For example:

 virt-cat --format=raw -a disk.img file

forces raw format (no auto-detection) for disk.img.

 virt-cat --format=raw -a disk.img --format -a another.img file

forces raw format (no auto-detection) for disk.img and reverts to auto-detection for another.img.

If you have untrusted raw-format guest disk images, you should use this option to specify the disk format. This avoids a possible security problem with malicious guests (CVE-2010-3851).


Read key or passphrase parameters from stdin. The default is to try to read passphrases from the user by opening /dev/tty.


Enable verbose messages for debugging.


Display version number and exit.


Enable tracing of libguestfs API calls.


Previous versions of virt-cat allowed you to write either:

 virt-cat disk.img [disk.img ...] file


 virt-cat guestname file

whereas in this version you should use -a or -d respectively to avoid the confusing case where a disk image might have the same name as a guest.

For compatibility the old style is still supported.


virt-cat has a limited ability to understand Windows drive letters and paths (eg. E:\foo\bar.txt).

If and only if the guest is running Windows then:

There are some known shortcomings:


guestfish(1) is a more powerful, lower level tool which you can use when virt-cat doesn't work.

Using virt-cat is approximately equivalent to doing:

 guestfish --ro -i -d domname download file -

where domname is the name of the libvirt guest, and file is the full path to the file. Note the final - (meaning "output to stdout").

The command above uses libguestfs's guest inspection feature and so does not work on guests that libguestfs cannot inspect, or on things like arbitrary disk images that don't contain guests. To display a file from a disk image directly, use:

 guestfish --ro -a disk.img -m /dev/sda1 download file -

where disk.img is the disk image, /dev/sda1 is the filesystem within the disk image, and file is the full path to the file.


Libvirt guest names can contain arbitrary characters, some of which have meaning to the shell such as # and space. You may need to quote or escape these characters on the command line. See the shell manual page sh(1) for details.


This program returns 0 if successful, or non-zero if there was an error.


guestfs(3), guestfish(1), virt-copy-out(1), virt-edit(1), virt-tar-out(1),


Richard W.M. Jones


Copyright (C) 2010-2012 Red Hat Inc.


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA.


To get a list of bugs against libguestfs, use this link:

To report a new bug against libguestfs, use this link:

When reporting a bug, please supply: