Mirantis OpenStack Express 2.0 – Basic Cloud Operations: Adding New Custom Boot Images

John Jainschigg, Mirantis Blog - September 15, 2014 - , , ,

Creating and managing boot images for Guests is a frequent, routine task for cloud operators. The core task can range from very simple — finding and loading a trustworthy, prefab image from a known repository — to relatively complicated, where you modify an image with a utility like guestfish or qemu-img, or craft a specific image configuration from a distribution .iso – work mostly performed from the Linux command line. Many documentation resources exist to get you up to speed – here are a few:

Mirantis OpenStack Express 2.0 is designed to simplify and reduce the time required to import and manage guest images, launch VMs, create and attach volumes, and perform other basic administrative tasks. In this short video, we’ll begin by looking at MOX 2.0’s image features, and show how you can quickly create a new image from a reliable source.


Step by Step

Getting into Mirantis OpenStack Express is simple: just log in — the home screen shows server usage and cluster locations, and provides links and authentication for the Horizon console associated with each of your OpenStack clouds.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
The Mirantis OpenStack Express 2.0 Dashboard shows your clouds’ location(s) and provides authentication and links into the Horizon user interfaces used to manage them.

OpenStack Express 2.0 comes with several default cloud server images already in place, that work with the default Q-Emu hypervisor. The default images are useful variations on the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS cloud image maintained by Canonical. Most are in QCOW2 format that Q-Emu supports. The Xen and KVM hypervisors can also boot VMs from QCOW2 images, as can Oracle VirtualBox and other desktop virtualization frameworks.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
Mirantis OpenStack Express Horizon UI shows pre-configured Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and other images, ready for convenient use.

It’s also easy to add new cloud server images from .img, .iso, and compressed tar.gz files maintained by Linux providers and communities. These can be retrieved by Horizon via URL and imported into OpenStack Express. The versions linked at OpenStack Documentation – Chapter 2, Get images — should work well with OpenStack Express. Images linked here have been built with cloud-init, a component that enables SSH key and user instance data injection so that instances made with this image can be configured at launch. We’ll see this process in our next blog post on Mirantis OpenStack Express, where we’ll launch an instance from an image.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
OpenStack documentation offers a chapter on Getting Images, where links to compatible image files can be found.

For our current purpose — importing an image — we’ll use CirrOS, a very light, cloud-oriented Linux distro, useful for testing. We’ll start by right-clicking the URL and copying it. Then we’ll return to Horizon console for our Mirantis OpenStack Express 2.0 cloud and choose Project -> Images -> Create Image. A simple dialog box appears.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
A simple dialog box lets you configure and import a new image file from a remote target URL.

Name your image, then paste the source URL into the Image Location slot provided. MOX 2.0 Horizon can consume images in .iso, .img, and tar.gz compressed file formats.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
The import system can handle a range of common image file formats, both uncompressed and compressed.
MOX 2.0 Dashboard
Paste the remote image location URL into the slot provided.

Pick the image hypervisor format from the Format dropdown – In this case, we’re picking QCOW2.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
A wide range of image formats is supported. In this case, we’re picking QCOW2 — the QEMU Copy-On-Write dynamic format, recommended for use with the QEMU hypervisor.

Identify minimum disk and RAM sizes to let this image run comfortably, click Public availability, then Create Image and let MOX download, store and create your new guest image.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
Fill in remaining fields with reasonable minimum values for RAM and ephemeral disk space, then click Create Image to begin the import process.
MOX 2.0 Dashboard
Depending on image file size, import and conversion may take a few seconds to a few minutes.

Depending on the size of the source file and download time, this can be very rapid — larger boot images take a couple of minutes to transfer and become available.

MOX 2.0 Dashboard
A successful import concludes, leaving us with a functional Cirros image that we can now use to configure and launch VM instances.

Success! Our image is imported and can now be used to configure and launch VM instances. In our next video, we’ll use this image to configure a new VM instance for SSH access, and launch it.

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