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Example: Ubuntu image

This example installs an Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) image. To create an image for a different version of Ubuntu, follow these steps with the noted differences.

Download an Ubuntu installation ISO

Because the goal is to make the smallest possible base image, this example uses the network installation ISO. The Ubuntu 64-bit 14.04 network installation ISO is at the Ubuntu download page.

Start the installation process

Start the installation process by using either virt-manager or virt-install as described in the previous section. If you use virt-install, do not forget to connect your VNC client to the virtual machine.

Assume that the name of your virtual machine image is ubuntu-14.04, which you need to know when you use virsh commands to manipulate the state of the image.

If you are using virt-manager, the commands should look something like this:

# qemu-img create -f qcow2 /tmp/trusty.qcow2 10G
# virt-install --virt-type kvm --name trusty --ram 1024 \
  --cdrom=/data/isos/trusty-64-mini.iso \
  --disk /tmp/trusty.qcow2,format=qcow2 \
  --network network=default \
  --graphics vnc,listen= --noautoconsole \
  --os-type=linux --os-variant=ubuntutrusty

Step through the installation

At the initial Installer boot menu, choose the Install option. Step through the installation prompts, the defaults should be fine.


The installer may ask you to choose a host name. The default (ubuntu) is fine. We will install the cloud-init package later, which will set the host name on boot when a new instance is provisioned using this image.

Select a mirror

The default mirror proposed by the installer should be fine.

Step through the install

Step through the install, using the default options. When prompted for a user name, the default (ubuntu) is fine.

Partition the disks

There are different options for partitioning the disks. The default installation will use LVM partitions, and will create three partitions (/boot, /, swap), and this will work fine. Alternatively, you may wish to create a single ext4 partition, mounted to "/", should also work fine.

If unsure, we recommend you use the installer's default partition scheme, since there is no clear advantage to one scheme or another.

Automatic updates

The Ubuntu installer will ask how you want to manage upgrades on your system. This option depends on your specific use case. If your virtual machine instances will be connected to the Internet, we recommend "Install security updates automatically".

Software selection: OpenSSH server

Choose OpenSSH server so that you will be able to SSH into the virtual machine when it launches inside of an OpenStack cloud.

Install GRUB boot loader

Select Yes when asked about installing the GRUB boot loader to the master boot record.

For more information on configuring Grub, see the section called "write-to-console".

Detach the CD-ROM and reboot

Select the defaults for all of the remaining options. When the installation is complete, you will be prompted to remove the CD-ROM.


There is a known bug in Ubuntu 14.04; when you select Continue, the virtual machine will shut down, even though it says it will reboot.

To eject a disk using virsh, libvirt requires that you attach an empty disk at the same target that the CDROM was previously attached, which should be hdc. You can confirm the appropriate target using the virsh dumpxml vm-image command.

# virsh dumpxml trusty
<domain type='kvm'>
    <disk type='block' device='cdrom'>
    <driver name='qemu' type='raw'/>
    <target dev='hdc' bus='ide'/>
    <address type='drive' controller='0' bus='1' target='0' unit='0'/>

Run the following commands in the host as root to start up the machine again as paused, eject the disk and resume. If you are using virt-manager, you may use the GUI instead.

# virsh start trusty --paused
# virsh attach-disk --type cdrom --mode readonly trusty "" hdc
# virsh resume trusty


In the previous example, you paused the instance, ejected the disk, and unpaused the instance. In theory, you could have ejected the disk at the Installation complete screen. However, our testing indicates that the Ubuntu installer locks the drive so that it cannot be ejected at that point.

Log in to newly created image

When you boot for the first time after install, it may ask you about authentication tools, you can just choose Exit. Then, log in as root using the root password you specified.

Install cloud-init

The cloud-init script starts on instance boot and will search for a metadata provider to fetch a public key from. The public key will be placed in the default user account for the image.

Install the cloud-init package:

# apt-get install cloud-init

When building Ubuntu images cloud-init must be explicitly configured for the metadata source in use. The OpenStack metadata server emulates the EC2 metadata service used by images in Amazon EC2.

To set the metadata source to be used by the image run the dpkg-reconfigure command against the cloud-init package. When prompted select the EC2 data source:

# dpkg-reconfigure cloud-init

The account varies by distribution. On Ubuntu-based virtual machines, the account is called ubuntu. On Fedora-based virtual machines, the account is called ec2-user.

You can change the name of the account used by cloud-init by editing the /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg file and adding a line with a different user. For example, to configure cloud-init to put the key in an account named admin, use the following syntax in the configuration file:

  - name: admin

Shut down the instance

From inside the instance, as root:

# /sbin/shutdown -h now

Clean up (remove MAC address details)

The operating system records the MAC address of the virtual Ethernet card in locations such as /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules during the installation process. However, each time the image boots up, the virtual Ethernet card will have a different MAC address, so this information must be deleted from the configuration file.

There is a utility called virt-sysprep, that performs various cleanup tasks such as removing the MAC address references. It will clean up a virtual machine image in place:

# virt-sysprep -d trusty

Undefine the libvirt domain

Now that the image is ready to be uploaded to the Image service, you no longer need to have this virtual machine image managed by libvirt. Use the virsh undefine vm-image command to inform libvirt:

# virsh undefine trusty

Image is complete

The underlying image file that you created with the qemu-img create command, such as /tmp/trusty.qcow2, is now ready for uploading to the Image service by using the openstack image create command. For more information, see the Create or update an image.