CernVM Launch

Note: CernVM Launch does currently not work with VirtualBox 6.1 on Windows. We are working on a fix. Please use VirtualBox 6.0 for the time being.

The cernvm-launch utility is a single binary for Windows, Linux, and Mac that creates, lists, and destroys (interactive) CernVMs on VirtualBox. It works similar to the vagrant and docker command line utilities. It is meant to be used for interactive (graphical) CernVM instances on a local workstation or laptop.


As a one time preparation you need to:

Once installed, you can manage CernVM instances using different “context” ASCII files, which you can store on your computer.

The installation process depends on the platform. For instructions how to install VirtualBox, please visit the official VirtualBox page.

Linux/Mac Installation

Run the following commands in your terminal:

# Download
if [ "x$(uname -s)" = "xLinux" ]; then
  curl -o cernvm-launch
  curl -o cernvm-launch
chmod +x cernvm-launch  # make it executable
# As root user, place it in a directory from the $PATH environment
sudo cp cernvm-launch /usr/local/bin

You can pick a different directory from your $PATH environment. Use echo $PATH to see all possible directories.


Download the cernvm-launch executable. Open a Windows prompt as an Administrator

  • Click the Start icon
  • Type cmd
  • Right-click on “cmd.exe” and click “Run as administrator”

Go to the directory where you have the downloaded binary, e.g.

cd C:\Users\sftnight\Downloads

From there, copy the binary in a directory, which is a default path for executable, e.g.

copy cernvm-launch.exe C:\Windows

You can see your path directories with echo %PATH%.