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Disk Images and Configuration Profiles

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The Linode Manager allows you to create, edit, and use disk images and configuration profiles with your Linode virtual private servers. You can install different Linux distributions on the disk images, set device assignments, and configure boot settings. This guide will show you how to put the pieces together to create a custom setup.

Contents

Getting Started

Your Linode plan comes with persistent storage to hold your most important asset - data. This pool of storage can be broken up into individual containers called disk images. You'll use disk images to store all of the files on your VPS. It's easy to create, delete, resize, duplicate, and even clone disk images to different Linodes.

A configuration profile is a boot loader for your Linode VPS. It controls general boot settings, including the disk image your Linode will start up from, the disk images that will be mounted, and the kernel that will be used. You can create multiple configuration profiles and store them in the Linode Manager.

Overview of disk images and configuration profiles.

The Linode Manager automatically creates a disk image and configuration profile when you sign up for an account or create a Linode, but you can manually create as many as you want, provided you have the storage space available. The space for disk images is allocated from your Linode plan's storage. You can allocate all available storage to one disk image, or you can create multiple disk images, as shown in the examples above and below.

Finding Your Way Around

All of a Linode's disk images and configuration profiles are displayed on the Linode's Dashboard. You can add, edit, select, and remove items from this webpage, as shown below.

Overview of Linode Manager interface.
  1. These are your configuration profiles. Select one and then click Reboot to start your Linode with the settings and disk images you have specified in the configuration profile.
  2. Click this link to create a new configuration profile.
  3. These are your disk images. Select one to resize it or duplicate it.
  4. Click this link to create a new disk image with a Linux distribution installed.
  5. Click this link to create a new blank disk image.
  6. This box indicates how much storage space is allocated to disk images. To see how much much space inside your disk image is currently being used, connect to your Linode via SSH and execute the df -m command.

Disk Images

Just like your desktop computer has a physical hard drive that can be partitioned into smaller virtual drives, your Linode plan's storage space can be split in to disk images. Disk images can be used to store anything, including files, applications, or other Linux distributions. The space allocated to disk images reduces your plan's available storage space.

Creating a Disk Image with a Linux Distribution Installed

The Linode Manager makes it easy to create a new disk image with a fresh Linux distribution installed. This is a fast and easy way to try out other distributions. Here's how to create a disk image with a Linux distribution installed:

Note

A new configuration profile will automatically be created when you make a disk image this way. After the disk image is created, you can select the new configuration profile to boot your Linode from the new disk image.

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Select the Deploy a Linux Distribution link. The webpage shown below appears.
Create a new disk image with a Linux distribution.
  1. Select a Linux distribution from the Distribution menu.

Note

You can install a customized Linux distribution on your disk image by clicking Deploying using StackScripts. Some of the most popular StackScripts do things like install Apache, configure a firewall, and set up the WordPress.

  1. Enter a size for the disk image in the Deployment Disk Size field. The size must be smaller than the amount of storage space remaining in your Linode plan.
  2. By default, the new disk image is set to use your existing swap disk. If you'd like to create a new swap disk, select a size from the Swap Disk menu.
  3. Enter a password for the root user in the Root Password field.
  4. Click Deploy.

The disk image will be created. Watch the Host Job Queue on the Dashboard to monitor the progress. When the process is complete, the disk image will appear on the dashboard.

Creating a Blank Disk Image

Create a blank disk image if you need detachable storage space or want to download and install your own Linux distribution. Here's how:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Select the Create a new Disk Image link. The Edit Disk Image webpage appears, as shown below.
Create a new blank disk image.
  1. Enter a name for the disk image in the Label field.
  2. By default, Type is set to ext3. We recommend that you stick with this setting.
  3. Enter a size for the disk image in the Deployment Disk Size field. The size must be smaller than the amount of storage space remaining in your Linode plan.
  4. Click Save Changes.

The disk image will be created. Watch the Host Job Queue on the Dashboard to monitor the progress. When the process is complete, the disk image will appear on the dashboard. You'll need to create or modify a configuration profile to mount the new disk image. For instructions, see Configuration Profiles.

Resizing a Disk Image

Resizing allows you to allocate more storage to a disk image so you can store more files, or shrink a disk image so you have more storage for the other disk images in your account. Here's how to resize a disk image:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Click Shut down to turn your Linode off. Watch the Host Job Queue for confirmation that the Linode has shut down.
  5. Select the disk image you want to resize. The Edit Disk Image webpage appears.
  6. In the New Size field, enter a different size for the disk image in megabytes.
  7. Click Save Changes. The Linode's dashboard appears. Watch the Host Job Queue for confirmation that the disk image has been resized.
  8. Click Boot to turn on the Linode.

You have successfully resized the disk image.

Duplicating a Disk Image

You can create an exact copy of a disk image by duplicating it. This is an effective way to back up your server or clone an existing Linode to a new Linode. (To clone a disk image, see Cloning Disk Images and Configuration Profiles.) Here's how to duplicate a disk image:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Click Shut down to turn your Linode off. Watch the Host Job Queue for confirmation that the Linode has shut down.
  5. Select the disk image you want to duplicate. The Edit Disk Image webpage appears.
  6. Click Duplicate Image. The Linode's dashboard appears. Watch the Host Job Queue for confirmation that the disk image has been duplicated.
  7. Click Boot to turn on the Linode.

The disk image will be duplicated. Watch the Host Job Queue on the Dashboard to monitor the progress. When the process is complete, the disk image will appear on the dashboard.

Removing a Disk Image

You can delete a disk image to remove it from your Linode and reallocate its storage space to another disk image. This action is permanent and cannot be undone. Here's how to delete a disk image:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Click Shut down to turn your Linode off. Watch the Host Job Queue for confirmation that the Linode has shut down.
  5. Select the Remove link next to the Linode you want to delete, as shown below. The disk image will be deleted. Watch the Host Job Queue for confirmation that the disk image has been duplicated.
Deleting a disk image
  1. Click Boot to turn on the Linode.

The disk image will be deleted. The storage space the disk image was using is now available to other disk images.

Configuration Profiles

Linode's configuration profiles are similar to GNU GRUB, the Linux boot loader that allows you to select and boot from an operating system installed on your desktop computer. You can create different configuration profiles to build custom boot configurations with disk images, kernels, and the operating system's run level.

Creating a Configuration Profile

Making a new configuration profile allows you to create a new and separate boot configuration for your system. You can specify boot settings and disk images to mount. Here's how to create a new configuration profile:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Select the Create a new Configuration Profile link. The Configuration Profile webpage appears, as shown below.
Creating a configuration profile
  1. Enter a descriptive name for the configuration profile in the Label field. This name appears on the dashboard and will help you differentiate it from other configuration profiles.
  2. You can enter comments or notes about this configuration profile in the Notes field.
  3. Select a Linux kernel from the Kernel menu. We recommend selecting one of the current and latest kernels.
  4. In the Block Device Assignment section, select a bootable disk image, a swap image (optional), and any other disk images that you would like to mount at start up.
  5. Select a bootable disk image from the root device Standard menu.
  6. Leave the settings in the Filesystem/Boot Helpers section alone, unless you have a specific reason to change them.
  7. Click Save Changes.

The configuration profile will be created and will appear on the Linode's dashboard.

Editing a Configuration Profile

You can edit existing configuration profiles to change boot settings, set other disk images to mount, and more. Here's how to edit a configuration profile:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Select a configuration profile. The Configuration Profile appears.
  5. Edit the settings as necessary.
  6. When finished, click Save Changes.

The changes to the configuration profile have been saved. You may need to reboot your Linode to activate the changes.

Selecting and Using a Configuration Profile

You can create and store many different configuration profiles in the Linode Manager, but you can only boot your Linode from one configuration profile at a time. Here's how to select a configuration profile and boot your Linode from it:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Click the button to select a configuration profile, as shown below.
Selecting a configuration profile
  1. Click Reboot to restart your Linode using the selected configuration profile.

You have successfully selected and booted your Linode from a configuration profile.

Removing a Configuration Profile

You can remove a configuration profile from the Linode Manager at anytime. Here's how:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select a Linode. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Select the Remove link next to the configuration profile you want to remove.

The configuration profile is removed from the dashboard.

Cloning Disk Images and Configuration Profiles

You can clone disk images and configuration profiles from one Linode to another, as long as both of the Linodes are in your account. This is an easy way to transfer disk images and configuration profiles between Linodes or migrate your Linode to a different datacenter or a new host in the same data center.

Here's how to clone your disk images and configuration profiles from one Linode to another:

  1. Log in to the Linode Manager.
  2. Click the Linodes tab. A list of your virtual private servers appears.
  3. Select the Linode with the configuration profiles and disk images you want to clone. The Linode's dashboard appears.
  4. Optional: Click Shut down to power down the Linode. This is recommended to prevent data corruption.
  5. Click the Clone tab. The webpage shown below appears.
Selecting configuration profiles and disk images to migrate
  1. Select the disk images and configuration profiles you want to clone to another Linode.
  2. Click Select. The webpage shown below appears.
Clone summary webpage
  1. From the Destination Linode menu, select the Linode you want to receive the disk images and configuration profiles.
  2. Click Clone. The receiving Linode's dashboard appears. Watch the Host Job Queue to monitor the progress.

After the cloning process completes, the disk images and configuration profiles you selected will be available on the destination Linode.

Potential Uses

If you're wondering how you could use disk images and configuration profiles, here are some ideas to get you started:

There are plenty of other ways you can use disk images and configuration profiles. Use your imagination!

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, June 28th, 2013 (r3503).