Placemat is a tool to simulate data center networks and servers using rkt Pods, QEMU/KVM virtual machines, and Linux networking stacks. Placemat can simulate virtually any kind of network topologies to help tests and experiments for software usually used in data centers.


  • No daemons

    Placemat is a single binary executable. It just builds networks and
    virtual machines when it starts, and destroys them when it terminates.
    This simplicity makes placemat great for a continuous testing tool.

  • Declarative YAML

    Networks, virtual machines, and other kind of resources are defined
    in YAML files in a declarative fashion. Users need not mind the order
    of creation and/or destruction of resources.

  • Virtual BMC for IPMI power management

    Power on/off/reset of VMs can be done by [IPMI][] commands.
    See virtual BMC for details.

  • Automation

    Placemat supports [cloud-init][] and [ignition][] to automate
    virtual machine initialization. Files on the host machine can be
    exported to guests as a VVFAT drive.
    QEMU disk images can be downloaded from remote HTTP servers.

    All of these help implementation of fully-automated tests.

  • UEFI

    Not only traditional BIOS, but placemat VMs can be booted in UEFI
    mode if [OVMF][] is available.


This project provides these commands:

  • placemat is the main tool to build networks and virtual machines.
  • pmctl is a utility tool to control VMs and Pods.

placemat command

placemat reads all YAML files specified in command-line arguments,
then creates resources defined in YAML. To destroy, just kill the
process (by sending a signal or Control-C).

$ placemat [OPTIONS] YAML [YAML ...]

  -bmc-cert string
        Certificate file for BMC HTTPS servers.
  -bmc-key string
        Key file for BMC HTTPS servers.
  -cache-dir string
        directory for cache data
  -data-dir string
        directory to store data (default "/var/scratch/placemat")
        show QEMU's and Pod's stdout and stderr
        enable VirtFS to share files between guest and host OS.
        force run with removal of garbage
        run QEMU with graphical console
  -listen-addr string
        listen address (default "")
  -run-dir string
        run directory (default "/tmp")
  -shared-dir string
        shared directory (default "/mnt/placemat")

If -cache-dir is not specified, the default will be /home/${SUDO_USER}/placemat_data
if sudo is used for placemat. If sudo is not used, cache directory will be
the same as -data-dir.
-force is used for forced run. Remaining garbage, for example virtual networks, mounts, socket files will be removed.

pmctl command

pmctl is a command line tool to control VMs, Pods and Networks.

See pmctl

Getting started


  • [QEMU][]
  • [OVMF][] for UEFI.
  • picocom for pmctl.
  • [rkt][] for Pod resource.
  • socat for pmctl.
  • (Optional) swtpm for providing TPM of Node resource.

For Ubuntu or Debian, you can install them as follows:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install qemu-system-x86 qemu-utils ovmf picocom socat cloud-utils

As to rkt, obtain a deb (or rpm) package then install it as follows:

$ wget
$ sudo dpkg -i rkt_1.30.0-1_amd64.deb

Install placemat

You can choose go get or debian package for installation.

Install placemat and pmctl:

$ go get -u
$ go get -u


$ wget${VERSION}/placemat_${VERSION}_amd64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i placemat_${VERSION}_amd64.deb

Run examples

See examples how to write YAML files.

To launch placemat from YAML files, run it with sudo as follows:

$ sudo $GOPATH/bin/placemat cluster.yml

To connect to a serial console of a VM, use pmctl node enter:

$ sudo $GOPATH/bin/pmctl node enter VM

This will launch picocom. To exit, type Ctrl-Q, then Ctrl-X.