Posts Tagged ‘provisioning’

Quickly install Xen Community Linux VM

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

On RHEL-type of systems, with virt-manager (libvirt), you can make use of virt-manager to easy your life. I, for myself, prefer to work with ‘xm‘ tools, but for the initial install, virt-manager is the quickest and most simple available tool.

To install a new Linux VM, all you need to follow this flow

Create an LV for your VM (I use LVs because it’s easier to manage). If not LV, use a file. To create an LV, run the following command

lvcreate -L 10G -n new_vm1 VolGroup00

I assume that the name you wish to grant is ‘new_vm1’ (better maintain order there, else you will find yourself with hundreds of small LVs you have no idea what to do with), and that the name of the volume group is ‘VolGroup00’. Change to different values to match your environment.

Next, make sure you have your ISO contents unpacked (you can use loop device) and exported via NFS (my favorite method).

To mount a CD/DVD ISO, you should use ‘mount’ command with the ‘loop’ options. This would look like this:

mount -o loop my_iso.iso /mnt/temp

Again, I assume the name of the ISO is my_iso.iso and that the target directory /mnt/temp is available.

Now, export your newly created directory. If you have NFS already running, you can either add to /etc/exports the newly mounted directory /mnt/temp and restart the ‘nfs’ service, or you could use ‘exportfs’ to add it:

exportfs -o no_root_squash *:/mnt/temp

would probably do the trick. I added ‘no_root_squash’ to make sure no permission/access problems present themselves during the installation phase. Test your export to verify it’s working.

Now you could begin your installation. Run the following command:

virt-install -n new_vm1 -r 512 -p -f /dev/VolGroup00/new_vm1 –nographics nfs://nfs_server:/mnt/temp

The name follows the ‘-n’ flag. The amount of RAM to give is 512MB. The -p means it’s paravirtualized. The -f shows which device will be the block device, and the last argument is the source of the installation. Do not use local files, as the VM installer should be able to access the installation source.

Following that, you should have a very nice TUI installation experience.

Now – let’s make this machine ‘xm’ compatible.

Currently, the VM is virt-manager compatible. It means you need virt-manager to start/stop it correctly. Since I prefer ‘xm’ commands, I will show you how to convert this machine to VM.

First – export its XML file:

virsh dumpxml new_vm1 > /tmp/new_vm1.xml

virsh domxml-to-native xen-xm /tmp/new_vm1.xml > /etc/xen/new_vm1

This should do the trick.

Now you can turn the newly created VM off, and remove the VM from virt-manager using

virsh undefine new_vm1

and you’re back to ‘xm’-only interface.

Quick provisioning of virtual machines

Friday, February 1st, 2008

When one wants to achieve fast provisioning of virtual machines, some solutions might come into account. The one I prefer uses Linux LVM snapshot capabilities to duplicate one working machine into few.

This can happen, of course, only if the host running VMware-Server is Linux.

LVM snapshots have one vast disadvantage – performance. When a block on the source of the snapshot is being changed for the first time, the original block is being replicated to each and every snapshot COOW space. It means that a creation of a 1GB file on a volume having ten snapshots means a total copy of 10GB of data across your disks. You cannot ignore this performance impact.

LVM2 has support for read/write snapshots. I have come up with a nice way of utilizing this capability to my benefit. An R/W snapshot which is being changed does not replicate its changes to any other snapshot. All changes are considered local to this snapshot, and are being maintained only in its COOW space. So adding a 1GB file to a snapshot has zero impact on the rest of the snapshots or volumes.

The idea is quite simple, and it works like this:

1. Create adequate logical volume with a given size (I used 9GB for my own purposes). The name of the LV in my case will be /dev/VGVM3/centos-base

2. Mount this LV on a directory, and create a VM inside it. In my case, it’s in /vmware/centos-base

3. Install the VM as the baseline for all your future VMs. If you might not want Apache on some of them, don’t install it on the baseline.

4. Install vmware-tools on the baseline.

5. Disable the service “kudzu”

6. Update as required

7. In my case I always use DHCP. You can set it to obtain its IP once from a given location, or whatever you feel like.

8. Shut down the VM.

9. In the VM’s .vmx file add a line like this:

uuid.action = “create”

I have added below (expand to read) two scripts which will create the snapshot, mount it and register it, including new MAC and UUID.

Press below for the scripts I have used to create and destroy VMs

# This script will replicate vms from a given (predefined) source to a new system
# Written by Ez-Aton,
# Arguments: name

test_can_do () {
# To be able to snapshot, we need a set of things to happen
if [ -d $DIR/$TARGET ] ; then
echo “Directory already exists. You don’t want to do it…”
exit 1
if [ -f $VG/$TARGET ] ; then
echo “Target snapshot exists”
exit 1
if [ `vmrun list | grep -c $DIR/$SRC/$SRC.vmx` -gt “0” ] ; then
echo “Source VM is still running. Shut it down before proceeding”
exit 1
if [ `vmware-cmd -l | grep -c $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx` -ne “0” ] ; then
echo “VM already registered. Unregister first”
exit 1

do_snapshot () {
# Take the snapshot
lvcreate -s -n $TARGET -L $SNAPSIZE $VG/$SRC
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Failed to create snapshot”
exit 1

mount_snapshot () {
# This function creates the required directories and mounts the snapshot there
mkdir $DIR/$TARGET
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Failed to mount snapshot”
exit 1

alter_snap_vmx () {
# This function will alter the name in the VMX and make it the $TARGET name
cat $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx | grep -v “displayName” > $DIR/$TARGET/$TARGET.vmx
echo “displayName = “$TARGET”” >> $DIR/$TARGET/$TARGET.vmx

register_vm () {
# This function will register the VM to VMWARE
vmware-cmd -s register $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx

if [ -z “$1” ]; then
echo “Arguments: The target name”
exit 1

# Parameters:
SRC=centos-base         #The name of the source image, and the source dir
PREFIX=centos             #All targets will be created in the name centos-$NAME
DIR=/vmware               #My VMware VMs default dir
SNAPSIZE=6G              #My COOW space
VG=/dev/VGVM3           #The name of the VG

exit 0

# This script will remove a snapshot machine
# Written by Ez-Aton,
# Arguments: machine name

does_it_exist () {
# Check if the described VM exists
if [ `vmware-cmd -l | grep -c $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx` -eq “0” ]; then
echo “No such VM”
exit 1
if [ ! -e $VG/$TARGET ]; then
echo “There is no matching snapshot volume”
exit 1
if [ `lvs $VG/$TARGET | awk ‘{print $5}’ | grep -c $SRC` -eq “0” ]; then
echo “This is not a snapshot, or a snapshot of the wrong LV”
exit 1

ask_a_thousand_times () {
# This function verifies that the right thing is actually done
echo “You are about to remove a virtual machine and an LVM. Details:”
echo “Machine name: $TARGET”
echo “Logical Volume: $VG/$TARGET”
echo -n “Are you sure? (y/N): ”
read RES
if [ “$RES” != “Y” ]&&[ “$RES” != “y” ]; then
echo “Decided not to do it”
exit 0
echo “”
echo “You have asked to remove this machine”
echo -n “Again: Are you sure? (y/N): ”
read RES
if [ “$RES” != “Y” ]&&[ “$RES” != “y” ]; then
echo “Decided not to do it”
exit 0
echo “Removing VM and snapshot”

shut_down_vm () {
# Shut down the VM and unregister it
vmware-cmd $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx stop hard
vmware-cmd -s unregister $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx

remove_snapshot () {
# Umount and remove the snapshot
umount $DIR/$TARGET
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Cannot umount $DIR/$TARGET”
exit 1
lvremove -f $VG/$TARGET
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Cannot remove snapshot LV”
exit 1

remove_dir () {
# Removes the mount point
rmdir $DIR/$TARGET

if [ -z “$1” ]; then
echo “No machine name. Exiting”
exit 1

DIR=/vmware                #VMware default VMs location
VG=/dev/VGVM3            #The name of the VG
PREFIX=centos              #Prefix to the name. All these VMs will be called centos-$NAME
SRC=centos-base           #The name of the baseline image, LVM, etc. All are the same


exit 0


1. Very fast provisioning. It takes almost five seconds, and that’s because my server is somewhat loaded.

2. Dependable: KISS at its marvel.

3. Conservative on space

4. Conservative on I/O load (unlike the traditional use of LVM snapshot, as explained in the beginning of this section).


1. Cannot streamline the contents of snapshot into the main image (LVM team will implement it in the future, I think)

2. Cannot take a snapshot of a snapshot (same as above)

3. If the COOW space of any of the snapshots is full (viewable through the command ‘lvs‘) then on boot, the source LV might not become active (confirmed RH4 bug, and this is the system I have used)

4. My script does not edit/alter /etc/fstab (I have decided it to be rather risky, and it was not worth the effort at this time)

5. My script does not check if there is enough available space in the VG. Not required, as it will fail if creation of LV will fail

You are most welcome to contribute any further changes done to this script. Please maintain my URL in the script if you decide to use it.


Quick and dirty – modifying Boel initrd files manually

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Boel initrd files are actually compressed cramfs files. This is a menuscript for authoring and modifying these files, if needed. Assume the file in question is /tftpboot/install-initrd-i386.img:

cp /tftpboot/install-initrd-i386.img /tmp/
cd /tmp/
gzip -S .img -d install-initrd-i386.img
mount -o loop install-initrd-i386 /mnt
mkdir initrd
cd /mnt/
tar cf – . | (cd /tmp/initrd/ ; tar vxf -) # expect errors about time. It’s OK.

cd /tmp/
umount /mnt

Here you can modify the contents of /tmp/initrd for your needs. When done, continue.

mkcramfs initrd initrd.cramfs
cat initrd.cramfs | gzip -9 > initrd.modified.img

Now you can copy the file /tmp/initrd.modified.img to your /tftpboot directory.

Warning – Never delete your original initrd, in case you made a mistake and need to go back in time.