Linode Library Home
Linode Library RSS Feed
Home :: Custom Instances
Print View View Source

Running a Custom Linux Distro on a Linode VPS

Published: by

If you'd like to run a Linux distribution on your Linode that isn't available from our distribution list, you can do so by following these instructions. This guide is handy for people who prefer distributions that aren't heavily used in the community, or for those interested in creating a highly customized Linux environment and porting it to their Linode VPS.

Contents

Creating the Virtual Machine

We'll use a free virtualization suite called VirtualBox to install a Linux distribution locally, but you can also use another virtualization package, such as VMware or Parallels. If you already have a Linux virtual machine that you'd like to run on your Linode, skip to Set up Finnix and Copy your VM Image .

Note

We're using Ubuntu 12.04 as the guest operating system in this guide, but you can install virtually any Linux distribution.

Here's how to get started:

  1. Launch the VirtualBox application. The window shown below appears.

    The VirtualBox interface.
  2. Click the New button to create a new virtual machine on your personal computer. The window shown below appears.

    Naming a VM in VirtualBox.
  3. In the Name field, enter a name for the virtual machine.

  4. Select Linux from the Type menu, and select your Linux distribution from the Version menu.

  5. Click Continue. The window shown below appears.

    Allocating RAM in VirtualBox.
  6. Select the amount of RAM that will be allocated to the virtual machine on your personal computer. This value should match the amount of RAM provided by your Linode plan.

  7. Click Continue. The window shown below appears.

    Adding a virtual hard drive
  8. Select Create a virtual hard drive now and then click Continue. The window shown below appears.

    Adding a virtual hard drive
  9. Select VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) and then click Continue. The window shown below appears.

    Adding a virtual hard drive
  10. Select Fixed size and then click Continue. The window shown below appears.

    Setting the size of the virtual hard drive
  11. Enter a name for the hard drive, and then select a size for the virtual machine's hard disk. You'll want to create a hard disk just a bit larger than will be necessary to hold your installed Linux distribution.

  12. Click Create. It may take a minute or so for the hard disk to be created. After it's created, the window shown below appears.

    Adding a virtual hard drive
  13. Click Settings, and then click Storage. The window shown below appears.

    Adding a virtual hard drive
  14. From the Storage Tree window, select the Empty option under Controller: IDE.

  15. Click the CD icon, and then select Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file.

  16. Select your Linux distribution install image, and then click Open.

Note

If you haven't already downloaded the image of the Linux distribution to your desktop computer, do that now.

  1. Click Network. The window shown below appears.

    Configuring networking.
  2. From the Attached to menu, select Bridged Adapter. This setting will allow your virtual machine to be reached from anywhere on the local network.

  3. Click OK.

  4. You should see the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager window again. Click Start to turn on the virtual machine.

  5. Follow the distribution's installation instructions. When prompted to partition the disk, create a single partition for / and a small partition for swap, as shown below.

    Partitioning the drive.
  6. Select the packages you'd like installed on your server, such as OpenSSH server for easy remote administration, as shown below.

    Installing packages.
  7. Complete the installation, and then shut down the virtual machine.

You have successfully created the virtual machine.

Booting the Virtual Machine with Finnix

Now you need to boot the virtual machine with Finnix to transfer it to your Linode. Here's how to boot the virtual machine with Finnix:

  1. Download the latest Finnix ISO image from finnix.org. You'll use this image to boot the virtual machine and then transfer the virtual hard disks to your Linode.

  2. In the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager window, click Settings, and then click Storage. The window shown below appears.

    Installing packages.
  3. Click the CD icon, and then select Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file.

  4. Select your Linux distribution install image, and then click Open.

  5. Click OK.

  6. You should see the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager window again. Click Start to turn on the virtual machine.

The virtual machine is now ready to be transferred to your Linode.

Migrating the Virtual Machine to Your Linode

Congratulations! You've installed a custom Linux distribution and prepared it for transfer to your Linode. The next step is migrating the virtual machine to your Linode. For more information, see Copying a Disk Image Over SSH.

Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Last edited by Matthew Cone on Friday, April 19th, 2013 (r3414).