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I have a theory on why this might be happening here. It has to do with the KVM limitation of mapping devices and the device names. See this thread for details: https://answers.launchpad.net/nova/+question/165695

In this case what's happening is that the hypervisor is attaching the device /dev/vdb first (since its listed first in the XML). But the guest picks up the device name /dev/vda for this device, because its available. Later the kernel tries to find the root filesystem on '/dev/vda' (because thats' what is selected as the root) and it fails for obvious reason.

I think it's a virsh bug. It should be smart about it and attach the devices in the right order.