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Customizing the Lima instance for varying workloads

You can customize Lima instance, using YAML and yq.

For more information on yq, see the yq documentation.


  • To create a new instance:

    $ limactl create <instance>
  • To edit an existing instance:

    $ limactl edit <instance>

Some of the things you can edit:

  • Change the number of CPUs, the memory, and the disk size
  • Change the operating system (the Linux distribution)
  • Modify the cluster setup (the Kubernetes distribution)
  • Run both of container workloads and Kubernetes workloads

See also:


To find the location of the instance directory (Dir):

limactl list <instance> --format '{{.Dir}}'


The resources can be set per instance, or as a global default.

# CPUs
# 🟢 Builtin default: min(4, host CPU cores)
cpus: null

# Memory size
# 🟢 Builtin default: min("4GiB", half of host memory)
memory: null

# Disk size
# 🟢 Builtin default: "100GiB"
disk: null

To set the default, edit _config/default.yaml in Lima home.

# The builtin defaults can be changed globally by creating a $LIMA_HOME/_config/default.yaml
# file. It will be used by ALL instances under the same $LIMA_HOME, and it
# will be applied on each `limactl start`, so can affect instance restarts.

# A similar mechanism is $LIMA_HOME/_config/override.yaml, which will take
# precedence even over the settings in an instances lima.yaml file.
# It too applies to ALL instances under the same $LIMA_HOME, and is applied
# on each restart. It can be used to globally override settings, e.g. make
# the mount of the home directory writable.

VM and Mount​

Any virtual machine (or server) with ssh can be used for Lima.

Most compatible mount type is "reverse-sshfs" (from sshocker).

Optionally you can use "qemu" vm with "9p" (aka virtfs) mount.

On macOS 13+, you can also use "vz" vm with "virtiofs" mount.

# VM type: "qemu" or "vz" (on macOS 13 and later).
# The vmType can be specified only on creating the instance.
# The vmType of existing instances cannot be changed.
# 🟢 Builtin default: "qemu"
vmType: null

# Mount type for above mounts, such as "reverse-sshfs" (from sshocker),
# "9p" (EXPERIMENTAL, from QEMU’s virtio-9p-pci, aka virtfs),
# or "virtiofs" (EXPERIMENTAL, needs `vmType: vz`)
# 🟢 Builtin default: "reverse-sshfs" (for QEMU), "virtiofs" (for vz)
mountType: null


You can install a container engine, in addition to the existing runtime.

For instance you can install Podman Engine, or you can install Docker Engine. After that you can port forward the socket, to the host Dir.


- guestSocket: '/var/run/docker.sock'
hostSocket: '{{.Dir}}/sock/docker.sock'
  • /var/run/docker.sock
export DOCKER_HOST="unix://{{.Dir}}/sock/docker.sock"


- guestSocket: '/run/podman/podman.sock'
hostSocket: '{{.Dir}}/sock/podman.sock'
  • /run/podman/podman.sock
export CONTAINER_HOST="unix://{{.Dir}}/sock/podman.sock"


You can install Kubernetes, on top of the existing container engine.

For instance you can use CRI-O for Podman, or CRI-Dockerd for Docker. After that you can copy the kubeconfig.yaml file, to the host Dir.​

- guest: '/etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml'
host: '{{.Dir}}/copied-from-guest/kubeconfig.yaml'
deleteOnStop: true
  • /etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml
export KUBECONFIG="{{.Dir}}/copied-from-guest/kubeconfig.yaml"​

- guest: '/etc/kubernetes/admin.conf'
host: '{{.Dir}}/copied-from-guest/kubeconfig.yaml'
deleteOnStop: true
  • /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf
export KUBECONFIG="{{.Dir}}/copied-from-guest/kubeconfig.yaml"