Awesome Open Source
Awesome Open Source


What does this do?

These Packer templates and associated files may be used to build fresh Debian
and Ubuntu virtual machine images for Vagrant, VirtualBox and QEMU.

The resulting image files may be used as bootable systems on real machines and
the provided preseed files may also be used to install identical systems on
bare metal as well.

What dependencies does this have?

These templates are tested semi-regularly on recent Linux (Debian and/or Ubuntu) hosts using recent versions of Packer and Vagrant. All testing is currently done on systems that have amd64/x86_64-family processors.

The VirtualBox and QEMU versions used for Linux testing are normally the "stock" ones provided by the official distribution repositories.

  • REQUIRED: Packer_ (Packer_download_) 1.7.4
  • REQUIRED (if not using QEMU): VirtualBox_ (VirtualBox_download_) 6.1.6 r137129 (Qt5.11.3)
  • REQUIRED (if not using VirtualBox): QEMU_ (kvm_) 3.1.0 (Debian 1:3.1+dfsg-8+deb10u4)
  • OPTIONAL: Vagrant_ (Vagrant_download_) 2.2.18

.. _Packer: .. _Packer_download: .. _VirtualBox: .. _VirtualBox_download: .. _QEMU: .. _kvm: .. _Vagrant: .. _Vagrant_download: .. _vagrant-libvirt:

Even though Packer supports QEMU as an officially-supported provider, Vagrant, for some reason, does not. The 3rd-party plugin named "vagrant-libvirt_" provides the missing QEMU support for Vagrant. We are unable at this time to verify this fact due to the following errors encountered while trying to run "vagrant up"::

Error while connecting to libvirt: Error making a connection to libvirt URI qemu:///system?no_verify=1&keyfile=/home/whoa/.ssh/id_rsa:
Call to virConnectOpen failed: Failed to connect socket to '/var/run/libvirt/libvirt-sock': No such file or directory

It may be possible to correct this error by installing the libvirt-daemon-system package on Debian.

TODO Items

* Fix the boot commands in the Ubuntu cloud-init UEFI templates (non-UEFI ones work fine)
* Wait until HCL2 stops sucking and convert everything from YAML to HCL2
* Find out if partman-crypto will allow passphrase-crypted
* Continue investigating best way to handle non-interactive encrypted images (dropbear, likely)

Using Packer Templates

Generate Templates and Build::

    [environment_variables] make [make_options_variables_and_or_targets]


    make OS_NAME=debian OS_VERSION=11_bullseye
    make OS_NAME=ubuntu OS_VERSION=20.04_focal TEMPLATE=base
    make BUILDER=vbox
    make BUILDER=qemu
    make BUILD_OPTS='-var=headless=true -var=version=1.0.0 -var=vm_name=test'
    make BUILD_OPTS='-var-file=variables.json'
    make TEMPLATE=cinnamon-uefi
    PACKER_LOG=1 make

Contents of example file ``variables.json`` used above::

      "headless": true,
      "version": "1.0.0",
      "vm_name": "test"

Using Vagrant Box Files

A Vagrant box file is actually a regular gzipped tar archive containing...

* box.ovf - Open Virtualization Format XML descriptor file
* nameofmachine-disk1.vmdk - a virtual hard drive image file
* Vagrantfile - derived from 'Vagrantfile.template'
* metadata.json - containing just '{ "provider": "virtualbox" }'

An OVA file is actually a regular tar archive containing identical copies of
the first 2 files that you would normally see in a Vagrant box file (but the
OVF file may be named nameofmachine.ovf and it *must* be the first file or
VirtualBox will get confused).

To use a locally-built Vagrant box file without a dedicated Vagrantfile::

    vagrant box add myname/bullseye \
    vagrant init myname/bullseye
    vagrant up
    vagrant ssh
    vagrant destroy

In order to version things and self-host the box files, you will need to create
a JSON file containing the following::

      "name": "base-bullseye",
      "description": "Base box for x86_64 Debian Bullseye 11.x",
      "versions": [
          "version": "1.0.0",
          "providers": [
              "name": "virtualbox",
              "url": "http://myserver/vm/base-bullseye/",
              "checksum_type": "sha256",
              "checksum": "deadbeef"

SHA256 hashes are the largest ones that Vagrant supports, currently.

Then, simply make sure you point your Vagrantfile at this version payload::

    Vagrant.configure('2') do |config| = 'base-bullseye'
      config.vm.box_url = 'http://myserver/vm/base-bullseye/base-bullseye.json'

      config.vm.synced_folder '.', '/vagrant', disabled: true

NOTE:  You must ensure you disable the synched folder stuff above or you will
encounter the following error::

    Vagrant was unable to mount VirtualBox shared folders. This is usually
    because the filesystem "vboxsf" is not available. This filesystem is
    made available via the VirtualBox Guest Additions and kernel module.
    Please verify that these guest additions are properly installed in the
    guest. This is not a bug in Vagrant and is usually caused by a faulty
    Vagrant box. For context, the command attempted was:

    mount -t vboxsf -o uid=1000,gid=1000 vagrant /vagrant

    The error output from the command was:

    mount: unknown filesystem type 'vboxsf'


Making Bootable Drives

For best results, you should use the Packer QEMU "kvm" builder when trying to
create bootable images to be used on real hardware.  This allows the use of the
"raw" block device format which is ideal for writing directly directly to USB
and SATA drives.  Alternately, you may use "qemu-img convert" or "vbox-img
convert" to convert an exiting image in another format to raw mode::

    zcat build/2038-01-19-03-14/base-bullseye.raw.gz | dd of=/dev/sdz bs=4M

... Or, if you just want to "boot" it::

    qemu-system-x86_64 -m 768M -machine type=pc,accel=kvm \

Overriding Local VM Cache Location


    vboxmanage setproperty machinefolder ${HOME}/vm

Disabling Hashicorp Checkpoint Version Checks

Both Packer and Vagrant will contact Hashicorp with some anonymous information
each time it is being run for the purposes of announcing new versions and other
alerts.  If you would prefer to disable this feature, simply add the following
environment variables::



UEFI Booting on VirtualBox

It isn't necessary to perform this step when running on real hardware, however,
VirtualBox (4.3.28) seems to have a problem if you don't perform this step.


To examine the actual contents of the file after editing it::

    hexdump /boot/efi/startup.nsh

Using the EFI Shell Editor

To enter the UEFI shell text editor from the UEFI prompt::

edit startup.nsh

Type in the stuff to add to the file (the path to the UEFI blob)::


To exit the UEFI shell text editor::


Hex Result::

0000000 feff 0046 0053 0030 003a 005c 0045 0046
0000010 0049 005c 0064 0065 0062 0069 0061 006e
0000020 005c 0067 0072 0075 0062 0078 0036 0034
0000030 002e 0065 0066 0069

Using Any Old 'nix' Text Editor

To populate the file in a similar manner to the UEFI Shell method above::

    echo 'FS0:\EFI\debian\grubx64.efi' > /boot/efi/startup.nsh

Hex Result::

    0000000 5346 3a30 455c 4946 645c 6265 6169 5c6e
    0000010 7267 6275 3678 2e34 6665 0a69

Serving Local Files via HTTP



Caching Debian/Ubuntu Packages

If you wish to speed up fetching lots of Debian and/or Ubuntu packages, you
should probably install "apt-cacher-ng" on a machine and then add the following
to each machine that should use the new cache::

    echo "Acquire::http::Proxy 'http://localhost:3142';" >>\

You must re-run "apt-cache update" each time you add or remove a proxy.  If you
populate the "d-i http/proxy string" value in your preseed file, all this stuff
will have been done for you already.

Installer Documentation




Ubuntu Live Server


To re-engage cloud-init after it has been used::

    sudo rm -f /etc/machine-id
    sudo cloud-init clean -s -l



Using a Headless Server

If you are using these scripts on a "headless" server (i.e.:  no GUI), you must
set the "headless" variable to "true" or you will encounter the following

    ==> virtualbox: Starting the virtual machine...
    ==> virtualbox: Error starting VM: VBoxManage error: VBoxManage: error: The virtual machine 'base-bullseye' has terminated unexpectedly during startup because of signal 6
    ==> virtualbox: VBoxManage: error: Details: code NS_ERROR_FAILURE (0x80004005), component MachineWrap, interface IMachine

Offical ISO Files


.. _Debian:

* Testing;
* Stable;
* Oldstable;


.. _Ubuntu:

* Released;
* Pending;

Distro Release Names


.. _Debian_releases:

* ? (16.x);  released on 2031-??-??, supported until 2036-??-01
* ? (15.x);  released on 2029-??-??, supported until 2034-??-01
* ? (14.x);  released on 2027-??-??, supported until 2032-??-01
* Trixie (13.x);  released on 2025-??-??, supported until 2030-??-01
* Bookworm (12.x);  released on 2023-??-??, supported until 2028-??-01
* Bullseye (11.x);  released on 2021-??-??, supported until 2026-??-01
* Buster (10.x);  released on 2019-07-06, supported until 2024-??-01
* Stretch (9.x);  released on 2017-06-18, supported until 2022-06-01

Debian releases seem to occur every 2 years around mid-year and usually receive
security support for 3 years and long-term support for 5 years.


.. _Ubuntu_releases:

* ? ? (31.10.x);  released on 2031-10-??, supported until 2032-07?-01
* ? ? (31.04.x);  released on 2031-04-??, supported until 2032-01?-01
* ? ? (30.10.x);  released on 2030-10-??, supported until 2031-07?-01
* ? ? (30.04.x LTS);  released on 2030-04-??, supported until 2035-04?-01
* ? ? (29.10.x);  released on 2029-10-??, supported until 2030-07?-01
* ? ? (29.04.x);  released on 2029-04-??, supported until 2030-01?-01
* ? ? (28.10.x);  released on 2028-10-??, supported until 2029-07?-01
* ? ? (28.04.x LTS);  released on 2028-04-??, supported until 2033-04?-01
* ? ? (27.10.x);  released on 2027-10-??, supported until 2028-07?-01
* ? ? (27.04.x);  released on 2027-04-??, supported until 2028-01?-01
* ? ? (26.10.x);  released on 2026-10-??, supported until 2027-07?-01
* ? ? (26.04.x LTS);  released on 2026-04-??, supported until 2031-04?-01
* ? ? (25.10.x);  released on 2025-10-??, supported until 2026-07?-01
* ? ? (25.04.x);  released on 2025-04-??, supported until 2026-01?-01
* ? ? (24.10.x);  released on 2024-10-??, supported until 2025-07?-01
* ? ? (24.04.x LTS);  released on 2024-04-??, supported until 2029-04?-01
* ? ? (23.10.x);  released on 2023-10-??, supported until 2024-07?-01
* ? ? (23.04.x);  released on 2023-04-??, supported until 2024-01?-01
* ? ? (22.10.x);  released on 2022-10-??, supported until 2023-07?-01
* ? ? (22.04.x LTS);  released on 2022-04-??, supported until 2027-04?-01
* Impish Indri (21.10.x);  released on 2021-10-??, supported until 2022-07?-01
* Hirsute Hippo (21.04.x);  released on 2021-04-22, supported until 2022-01-01
* Focal Fossa (20.04.x LTS);  released on 2020-04-23, supported until 2025-04-01
* Bionic Beaver (18.04.x LTS);  released on 2018-04-26, supported until 2023-04-01

Ubuntu releases traditionally-occur twice a year--in April and October.  LTS
releases typically come out in April and receive standard support for 5 years
and extended security maintenance for 10 years.  Non-LTS releases typically
seem to receive standard support for 9 to 11 months with no extended security

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