Picking a distro for PCI Passthrough, need advice!

Hello everyone!

A few months ago I managed to set up a PCI-Passthrough for a virtual Windows system on Arch, and I recently decided to take a look around some of the other distros and possibilities that I may have.

I would like to set up my system with just one central OS to manage all the others, or at least the Windows system, and dual boot with other Linuxes.
Do you have any recommendation for something to test? I am used to having to figure things out on my own, and I have learned a lot installing and using arch, so there isn't really a limitation in terms of difficulty at which I would give up.

As far as I remember, Wendell recommended Fedora, but I have absolutely no experience with Fedora as I have just been using Arch and Debian based operating systems.

Thanks in advance!

Edit: Just wanted to mention, there is nothing wrong with me using Arch and I would do it again if it's the best choice, I am just looking for new ideas and other experiences :)

If anything do opensuse or Arch. Anything else will really be a pain in the ass.

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Care to elaborate? I'm not sure I understand the reasons.

Opensuse holds an industry level of maintenance and has so many people behind it that if you screwed someone up theres going to be enough people that know the buglist inside and out that it won't be a problem. Arch because its light, nothing really gets in the way, I use it, and it has a lot of attention brought onto it a lot. ALso the wiki has the best documentation. But thats about it.


Alright, thanks for explaining. I don't know much about OpenSUSE but I share your view of the benefits of Arch. It has great documentation and is very light.

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I would recommend Fedora too. They are the ones pushing the virtualization in opensourceland now already couple of years.

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Ubuntu is good because it's popular and has the steam/valve proper support, plus apt is pretty good.

Debian is clean and light, though it's stable release tends to be a little older. Also uses apt

Fedora has all the new stuff, Nvidia sucks on it (usually), selinux is a bitch xD. Dnf can be annoyingly slow, rpm fusion helps.

Arch is probably the best, especially if you love messing with stuff, it stays updated, pacman is great, yaourt pretty much allows you to do anything. One of the best wikis.

uses also? XD Its other way around...
but no don't use Debian for this...

Fedora. Major maintainers and contributors of VFIO and virtualization related technologies work for Red Hat or use Fedora themselves.


The big advantage of OpenSuSE for passthrough is twofold:
1, Through Yast and live kernel patching and module probing, you can quickly and efficiently tweak your system for the requirements of your specific passthrough project, all through a very good GUI. This is a huge benefit over any other distro.
2. Through default implementation of snapper with a full root profile if you go with a stage 5 filesystem like ZFS or Btrfs, you can revert your system literally in two seconds without any pain if you mess up.

Other than that, OpenSuSE and Fedora are pretty much the same technically, except that Fedora could require setting SELinux to permissive, which is less nice, but acceptable, whereas OpenSuSE's AppArmor has more granularity and could end up being a better hardened host system in certain passthrough scenarios.

The big advantage of RPM distros is that they support every single hypervisor technology out of the box, and that the kernels are completely preconfigured for virtualization.


Well just happened to be in that order, Debian is definitely the de facto apt user. I use it as host a ton, because it's so light.

sorry couldn't stop myself for pointing that out. :p

Light is in ...?
Every Linux can be down stripped.
But you use it ass passtrough. First time i hear somebody doing that on Debian.
Its usually not popular for these kind of experimental stuff (its still not perfect).

Well, yes. I like that it's light out of the box. Though that's mostly debatable. I just feel comfortable with Debian. Fedora server is just too much (like it's easier to start with workstation than server?), and arch is just annoying to install from minimal.

As for passthrough on Debian, as long as you grab a newer kernel it's mostly fine? I've not had any problems with it.

Fedora server is OK but i wish the cockpit was an option you could turn of in the installation.
But its just Fedora in general without resources that usually are needed for desktop stuff.

Well its cool people on Debian do it too. :p
Me just surprised reading that it actually happens.

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I missed the most important part! Ufw works on Debian! It's the best xD

Couldn't have said it better.

OpenSuSE has been my goto diatro for years now. It just works for things like virtualization and even on Tumbleweed, their rolling release I've never had any issues whatsoever. YaST is amazing tool that makes stuff like virtualization that much easier and it has a large community behind it too for support. The wikis are unrivaled as well. They offer tons of information.

That said though, I was once an Arch user and if you are willing to learn about how ditros actually work and stuff like that it is a great place to start. You'll learn a lot there. My biggest issue with it was that it was unnecessarily complex and was too bleeding edge and often broke things requiring a regression.

Finally we have Fedora. It was my first distribution and did everything really well but I felt like it was too locked down and I never cared for YUM or DNF. Good distro, limited information however things for RHEL and CentOS can generally be applied here

Just more stuff for thought. I couldn't be happier with OpenSuSE. As a matter of fact. I only started using it because of Zoltans recommendation for it

Glad it worked out for you then, because choice of distro is always a personal preference thing.

All of my important servers are running SuSE and OpenSuSE. I also love the fact that SuSE does RTOS versions, those are super useful for projects.

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If you're just gonna use the distro to launch and manage other VMs without really using it. I'd suggest not arch (Rolling release would be a pain), and something lightweight. I'd say gentoo but have fun with that.

I'll also throw in my hat for openSUSE

@Zoltan, all excellent points. I use openSUSE for my PCI passthrough rig, and it worked really well. YaST makes a lot of the configuration and such so easy to get things set up in preparation.

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so i wanted to try opensuse xD, are there any suse specific guides around?