Using qemu builder gives network ens3, after importing in virt-manager it becomes enp1s0


I’m building my first image with packer/qemu. It’s a simple config for Ubuntu server 20.04, taken from the examples. The build process succeeds, an image is created.

I can import the image with virsh. The resulting VM boots ok, but its network doesn’t start. The reason is that during packer-build the VM enumerated the network as ens3, but in my new VM the network is enumerated as enp1s0. During the autoinstall on Ubuntu it created a netplan configuration with ens3 in it.

I can manually fix that of course, but that is not the point of an automated process to create images.

I’m quite puzzled how to find out how this network enumeration process works. There is some documentation but nowhere it explains where the s (in ens3) comes from. Knowing how the system comes up with the s may be an important clue. Maybe I need to define PCI devices?

Does anyone recognize this problem?

BTW. There is a work-around and that it to add net.ifnames=0 to boot_command. In that case both the builder and the final image will fall back to the old fashioned eth0.

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The documentation you’re looking for is at PredictableNetworkInterfaceNames

In 2013, systemd and udev changed to default to predictable names for network interfaces. The lists below are from the linked page, which also describes why this solution was chosen and what problem it’s trying to solve.

Names are created using the following schemes.

  1. Names incorporating Firmware/BIOS provided index numbers for on-board devices (example: eno1 )
  2. Names incorporating Firmware/BIOS provided PCI Express hotplug slot index numbers (example: ens1 )
  3. Names incorporating physical/geographical location of the connector of the hardware (example: enp2s0 )
  4. Names incorporating the interfaces’s MAC address (example: enx78e7d1ea46da )
  5. Classic, unpredictable kernel-native ethX naming (example: eth0 )

If you don’t want this, there are three alternatives.

  1. You disable the assignment of fixed names, so that the unpredictable kernel names are used again. For this, simply mask udev’s .link file for the default policy: ln -s /dev/null /etc/systemd/network/
  2. You create your own manual naming scheme, for example by naming your interfaces “internet0”, “dmz0” or “lan0”. For that create your own .link files in /etc/systemd/network/, that choose an explicit name or a better naming scheme for one, some, or all of your interfaces. See for more information.
  3. You pass net.ifnames=0 on the kernel command line

Like you, I chose option 3 as my VMs overwhelmingly use a single network interface and this keeps it simple.

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Don’t get me wrong, but unpredictable interface names are not recommended on most of the newer distributions, so IMHO this is a really bad solution.
RedHat for example is really clear on this one:

  • No. Red Hat strongly recommend that the new RHEL7, RHEL8 and RHEL9 naming conventions are used.

I really like the new interface style and don’t want to think up the names myself, so the only solution is to manipulate the images afterwards with other tools or scripts the way they should be in the final infrastructure. This is kind of hacky but the best solution I found so far.

I would really appreciate a better solution working with packer. Maybe with a qemuarg to make the virtual network interface available like enp1s0 or something like that. Anyhow, i don’t understand why packer makes it available as pcie interface.

Is there nothing to do about this?

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One way to get the same predictable network interface name is to make sure the virtual hardware used by the NIC is identical. I would start with inspecting the virsh config and maybe run lspci to list the virtual hardware. Once you figure out which nic you want to have your image use after build customize the packer qemu args to use the same virutal NIC hardware.