KVM USB Auto-Passthrough

I do all of my PC gaming on a Windows VM which I run on a Linux host running KVM. With a new gaming monitor on the way, I got the idea of using a DisplayPort/USB switcher to switch my keyboard, mouse, and monitor between my laptop and Windows VM (via KVM's USB passthrough). That way I can connect the monitor directly to the Windows VM and use its 144 Hz refresh rate instead of being stuck at what Linux is displaying along with the 30 or 60 fps provided by Parsec.

Before I buy that USB switcher, I need to make sure that I can have my USB devices to auto-connect to the VM when they get connected to my Linux host.

Through my cursory searching I couldn't find a way native to libvirt/qemu to do this, so udev to the rescue! Through udev rules, I'm able to detect when a device matching some parameters is connected, and then run a command. This command will get a bunch of environment variables set from udev. The interesting ones to us are:

  • ACTION - add, remove, etc.
  • ID_VENDOR_ID - the USB vendor ID
  • ID_MODEL_ID - the USB model ID.

To test this idea out, I set up a simple rule that matches against my keyboard and saved this as /etc/udev/rules.d/90-libvirt-usb.rules:

ACTION=="bind", \
  SUBSYSTEM=="usb", \
  ENV{ID_VENDOR_ID}=="6b62", \
  ENV{ID_MODEL_ID}=="6869", \
  RUN+="/usr/local/bin/kvm-udev attach steam"
ACTION=="remove", \
  SUBSYSTEM=="usb", \
  ENV{ID_VENDOR_ID}=="6b62", \
  ENV{ID_MODEL_ID}=="6869", \
  RUN+="/usr/local/bin/kvm-udev detach steam"

The VENDOR_ID and MODEL_ID can be found by running the lsusb command, which shows this as "ID vendor_id:model_id", for example "ID 6b62:6869".

And of course, here's the script /usr/local/bin/kvm-udev which takes care of the auto-connecting. It takes two parameters, first either being "attach" or "detach" and the second being the name of the KVM domain (aka VM).


# Usage: ./kvm-udev.sh attach|detach <domain>

set -e


CONF_FILE=$(mktemp --suffix=.kvm-udev)
cat << EOF >$CONF_FILE
<hostdev mode='subsystem' type='usb'>
    <vendor id='0x${ID_VENDOR_ID}' />
    <product id='0x${ID_MODEL_ID}' />

virsh "${ACTION}-device" "$DOMAIN" "$conf_file"

This writes out a temporary file which contains some libvirt XML config for doing device passthrough, picking details from the environment variables that udev sets. It then calls virsh to attach/detach the device to the given domain using that temporary config file.

And with that, every time I plug my keyboard into my KVM host, it automatically routes it to my Windows VM! Now that this works, I can add an additional rule for my mouse, so that switching these devices between computers works smoothly.