QEMU Disk Network Block Device Server


qemu-nbd [OPTION]… filename

qemu-nbd -L [OPTION]…

qemu-nbd -d dev


Export a QEMU disk image using the NBD protocol.

Other uses:

  • Bind a /dev/nbdX block device to a QEMU server (on Linux).
  • As a client to query exports of a remote NBD server.


filename is a disk image filename, or a set of block driver options if --image-opts is specified.

dev is an NBD device.

--object type,id=ID,...props...

Define a new instance of the type object class identified by ID. See the qemu(1) manual page for full details of the properties supported. The common object types that it makes sense to define are the secret object, which is used to supply passwords and/or encryption keys, and the tls-creds object, which is used to supply TLS credentials for the qemu-nbd server or client.

-p, --port=PORT

TCP port to listen on as a server, or connect to as a client (default 10809).

-o, --offset=OFFSET

The offset into the image.

-b, --bind=IFACE

The interface to bind to as a server, or connect to as a client (default

-k, --socket=PATH

Use a unix socket with path PATH.


Treat filename as a set of image options, instead of a plain filename. If this flag is specified, the -f flag should not be used, instead the format= option should be set.

-f, --format=FMT

Force the use of the block driver for format FMT instead of auto-detecting.

-r, --read-only

Export the disk as read-only.

-A, --allocation-depth

Expose allocation depth information via the qemu:allocation-depth metadata context accessible through NBD_OPT_SET_META_CONTEXT.

-B, --bitmap=NAME

If filename has a qcow2 persistent bitmap NAME, expose that bitmap via the qemu:dirty-bitmap:NAME metadata context accessible through NBD_OPT_SET_META_CONTEXT.

-s, --snapshot

Use filename as an external snapshot, create a temporary file with backing_file=filename, redirect the write to the temporary one.

-l, --load-snapshot=SNAPSHOT_PARAM

Load an internal snapshot inside filename and export it as an read-only device, SNAPSHOT_PARAM format is snapshot.id=[ID],snapshot.name=[NAME] or [ID_OR_NAME]


The cache mode to be used with the file. See the documentation of the emulator’s -drive cache=... option for allowed values.

-n, --nocache

Equivalent to --cache=none.


Set the asynchronous I/O mode between threads (the default), native (Linux only), and io_uring (Linux 5.1+).


Control whether discard (also known as trim or unmap) requests are ignored or passed to the filesystem. DISCARD is one of ignore (or off), unmap (or on). The default is ignore.


Control the automatic conversion of plain zero writes by the OS to driver-specific optimized zero write commands. DETECT_ZEROES is one of off, on, or unmap. unmap converts a zero write to an unmap operation and can only be used if DISCARD is set to unmap. The default is off.

-c, --connect=DEV

Connect filename to NBD device DEV (Linux only).

-d, --disconnect

Disconnect the device DEV (Linux only).

-e, --shared=NUM

Allow up to NUM clients to share the device (default 1), 0 for unlimited. Safe for readers, but for now, consistency is not guaranteed between multiple writers.

-t, --persistent

Don’t exit on the last connection.

-x, --export-name=NAME

Set the NBD volume export name (default of a zero-length string).

-D, --description=DESCRIPTION

Set the NBD volume export description, as a human-readable string.

-L, --list

Connect as a client and list all details about the exports exposed by a remote NBD server. This enables list mode, and is incompatible with options that change behavior related to a specific export (such as --export-name, --offset, …).


Enable mandatory TLS encryption for the server by setting the ID of the TLS credentials object previously created with the –object option; or provide the credentials needed for connecting as a client in list mode.


Fork off the server process and exit the parent once the server is running.


Store the server’s process ID in the given file.


Specify the ID of a qauthz object previously created with the --object option. This will be used to authorize connecting users against their x509 distinguished name.

-v, --verbose

Display extra debugging information.

-h, --help

Display this help and exit.

-V, --version

Display version information and exit.

-T, --trace [[enable=]PATTERN][,events=FILE][,file=FILE]

Specify tracing options.


Immediately enable events matching PATTERN (either event name or a globbing pattern). This option is only available if QEMU has been compiled with the simple, log or ftrace tracing backend. To specify multiple events or patterns, specify the -trace option multiple times.

Use -trace help to print a list of names of trace points.


Immediately enable events listed in FILE. The file must contain one event name (as listed in the trace-events-all file) per line; globbing patterns are accepted too. This option is only available if QEMU has been compiled with the simple, log or ftrace tracing backend.


Log output traces to FILE. This option is only available if QEMU has been compiled with the simple tracing backend.


Start a server listening on port 10809 that exposes only the guest-visible contents of a qcow2 file, with no TLS encryption, and with the default export name (an empty string). The command is one-shot, and will block until the first successful client disconnects:

qemu-nbd -f qcow2 file.qcow2

Start a long-running server listening with encryption on port 10810, and whitelist clients with a specific X.509 certificate to connect to a 1 megabyte subset of a raw file, using the export name ‘subset’:

qemu-nbd \
  --object tls-creds-x509,id=tls0,endpoint=server,dir=/path/to/qemutls \
  --object 'authz-simple,id=auth0,identity=CN=laptop.example.com,,\
            O=Example Org,,L=London,,ST=London,,C=GB' \
  --tls-creds tls0 --tls-authz auth0 \
  -t -x subset -p 10810 \
  --image-opts driver=raw,offset=1M,size=1M,file.driver=file,file.filename=file.raw

Serve a read-only copy of a guest image over a Unix socket with as many as 5 simultaneous readers, with a persistent process forked as a daemon:

qemu-nbd --fork --persistent --shared=5 --socket=/path/to/sock \
  --read-only --format=qcow2 file.qcow2

Expose the guest-visible contents of a qcow2 file via a block device /dev/nbd0 (and possibly creating /dev/nbd0p1 and friends for partitions found within), then disconnect the device when done. Access to bind qemu-nbd to an /dev/nbd device generally requires root privileges, and may also require the execution of modprobe nbd to enable the kernel NBD client module. CAUTION: Do not use this method to mount filesystems from an untrusted guest image - a malicious guest may have prepared the image to attempt to trigger kernel bugs in partition probing or file system mounting.

qemu-nbd -c /dev/nbd0 -f qcow2 file.qcow2
qemu-nbd -d /dev/nbd0

Query a remote server to see details about what export(s) it is serving on port 10809, and authenticating via PSK:

qemu-nbd \
  --object tls-creds-psk,id=tls0,dir=/tmp/keys,username=eblake,endpoint=client \
  --tls-creds tls0 -L -b remote.example.com

See also

qemu(1), qemu-img(1)