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Creating a minimal Ubuntu Server VM

June 6, 2011

The other day I documented a kickstart process for creating base CentOS VM images. I tried but failed to get ubuntu installed using kickstart. Rather than learn the normal ubuntu process I figured I’d install manually. Beyond that, the approach is basically the same:

  • Download ubuntu server, I chose the 64-bit LTS iso (10.04).
  • create new empty VM called vanilla-ubuntu.
  • Resize the disk image to 10GB.
  • set RAM to 256MB.
  • disable just about all options including audio support, usb support, printer support, file sharing, etc.
  • set to NAT networking.
  • attach ubuntu iso to cdrom drive.
  • Accept all installer defaults, but select OpenSSH server as additional system to install
  • Log in as created user
  • run sudo passwd root to set the root password
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade
  • to work around this bug, sudo rm /etc/motd.tail
  • sudo shutdown -h now.
  • open the settings pane, open the hard disk panel, and select “clean up disk”.
  • disconnect and remove the floppy drive. Disconnect the DVD drive.
  • (optional), open the directory containing the VM location in the terminal and mv *.vmwarevm/* . && rm -r *.vmwarevm. When you next open the VM (you will need to use File > Open), select “I moved it”.
  • Make a backup copy of the virtual machine files, this is your clean VMWare-independent base VM.
  • Start the virtual machine.
  • in the Fusion menu, select Virtual Machine > Install VMWare tools, and install the tools:
    mkdir /mnt/cdrom
    mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
    cd /tmp
    tar zxf /mnt/cdrom/VMwareTools*.tar.gz
    ./ --default
    rm -Rf /tmp/vmware-tools-distrib
  • Shut down the virtual machine
  • Make a backup copy of the virtual machine files, this is your clean VMWare-ready base VM.

One thing that’s easy to notice is how lightning fast ubuntu starts up. The other thing to notice is just how old CentOS / RHEL 5 really is, and IMNSHO how overdue RHEL 6 was (and CentOS 6 is):

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS CentOS 5.6
# uname -r
# python -V
Python 2.6.5
# perl -v
This is perl, v5.10.1 ...
# apt-cache show ruby1.9.1 | grep Version
# uname -r
# python -V
Python 2.4.3
# perl -v
This is perl, v5.8.8 ...
# yum info ruby.x86_64 | grep Version
Version    : 1.8.5
One Comment
  1. Shaun Smith permalink
    July 16, 2011 18:20

    Hey Leo,

    I’m doing something similar with VirtualBox and Debian at the moment.

    First off, be wary of duplicate mac addresses on client import (

    Next, if using DHCP you’ll need to remove the /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules files from the base image (it’ll sort itself out on first boot, if it’s there then the original machines mac address is left against eth0).

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