Creating a QEMU image and installing Debian in it

The goal of this is to create a small clean Debian image i can use later for testing software installation etc...
I will among other things use this to test installation of jotwiki on different distros.

I also created images of other popular distros for the same purposes.

Creating a debian image

Download the debian installation CD (the smallest one i can find):

cd ~/qemu/

Create a disk image(ex: fake hard drive), in the case of debian, i make it ~750M, this should be enough for my needs.
qemu-img create debian.img 750M
#or use qcow format for smaller image
qemu-img create -f qcow debian.qcow 750M

Then start the Debian installation CD with QEMU and our new image as the HD.
qemu -cdrom debian-40r3-i386-businesscard.iso -hda debian.img -boot d

and follow through the Debian install:
  • Choose a language, country and keyboard mapping
  • Set the host and domain names and choose a server to download other components from
  • Then i choose 'manual partitioning' and create just one / partition using the whole disk (simpler for this purpose). Type: ext3. then save the partition to disk.
  • I don't bother setting a swap in this case, my machine as lots of memory anyway.
  • Select your timezone
  • create the root and a user accounts
  • after that it will start installing the system, retrieving packages from the ISO and network. (takes a while)
  • software to install: standard system only
At the end it will reboot.
Reboot will fail, juts stop qemu (CTRL-C)

Now you can boot the new clean debian install qemu -hda debian.img

After that i have a fully functional 'vanilla' debian system, so i make a copy of that, so i can always go back to that after i play with it:

cp debian.img debian_vanilla.img

Resizing the QEMU image

I originally created my image with a size of 500MB, but Debian base install used like 95% of that, so i decided to resize it to 750MB to have ~300MB to play with.
resizing qemu image
# create a copy of the image in raw format
qemu-img convert debian.img -O raw debian.raw
# Expand the raw image to 750MB by padding with zeroes
# obs=block_size. seek=nb block size of expanded image. So here 750*1MB = 750 MB
dd if=/dev/zero of=debian.raw seek=750 obs=1MB count=0
# recompress the raw image into in qemu format(qcow), uses only space needed.
qemu-img convert debian.raw -O qcow debian_new.img
#test new image
qemu -hda debian_new.img
# cleanup
rm debian.raw
mv debian_raw.img debian.img

Note that at this point the hard drive image is larger, but our Debian partition is still the old size(small) and the expanded part of the disk is currently unused.

Here since i have only one partition i can just resize it with fdisk.
if you have more parttions, or are not comfortable with fdisk you might will better of using something like qparted etc... or a partition resizing disk.
# WARNING: this is dangerous, only safe with one partition which was increased in size.
sudo fdisk /dev/hda
# press 'd' to delete the only partition(partition 1)
# then press 'n' for new, 'p' for primary, and 'enter' twice (to use the whole disk)
# press 'a' then '1' to make the partition active/bootable
# press 'w' to write the partition and quit fdisk
# then reboot so it will remount the partiton

Now the parttion is the right size, but it's still formatted the wrong size, so we need to "reformat" it to the right size (without loosing the data)
If you used a disk resize tool like parted, you don't have to do this manually
resize2fs /dev/hda1 710M

Others distros




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