New features arriving in BoxGrinder Build 0.10.0

We are really pleased to announce the next major version of BoxGrinder Build. Version 0.10 includes many exciting new features.

New plugin: libvirt delivery plugin

The most time-consuming feature was the libvirt delivery plugin, enabling appliances to be delivered and registered on the range of platforms that libvirt supports. These include KVM, Xen, VirtualBox and VMWare to name but a few, and whilst the current release of the plugin is a preview, we hope that your feedback will enable us to continue improving it, so please let us know your thoughts!

There are a large number of features and configurable options available, so we shall limit ourselves to some simple examples. We encourage you to consult the documentation for detailed information.

Examples

Deliver the appliance to a qemu hypervisor on the local machine, placing the appliance in the /var/lib/libvirt/images directory, and register the image:

boxgrinder-build definition.appl -d libvirt --delivery-config connection_uri:qemu:///system,image_delivery_uri:/var/lib/libvirt/images  

The plugin will attempt to determine optimal settings by probing the libvirt daemon for its capabilities. If, for instance, the libvirtd residing at the connection_uri machine advertises that it supports kvm, this will be preferred over a slower qemu domain. You can, of course, override these settings manually.

Connect via SSH to a remote vbox (VirtualBox) hypervisor. Deliver the appliance via SFTP to the remote machine and register:

[...] -d libvirt --delivery-config connection_uri:vbox+ssh://root@example.org/session,image_delivery_uri:sftp://root@example.org/var/lib/libvirt/images

In the above example, we assume that you have set up your ssh-agent, thus enabling the plugin to seamlessly use key authentication for both libvirt and SFTP. Password authentication works too, but it requires you to enter a password each time the plugin needs to connect, which is rather inconvenient.

There are a plethora of further features to allow arbitrary modification of domain definitions. Futhermore, we hope to make the plugin more user-friendly for those who require complex configurations, and these are topics we shall blog on in the future.

New plugin: OpenStack delivery plugin

It's a pleasure to submit to testing our OpenStack plugin. The OpenStack plugin allows you to deliver your appliance (in different formats) to a Glance server using its REST API.

Usage of this plugin is very simple. If you want to submit a KVM image to OpenStack:

boxgrinder-build definition.appl -d openstack

...and if you want to have an EC2 image registered:

boxgrinder-build definition.appl -p ec2 -d openstack

Please refer to plugin documentation for detailed usage instructions.

This plugin is in a tech-preview state. This means that we haven't tested it intensively, please help us with some testing. We really appreciate any comments and pull requests for this plugin.

New plugin: VirtualPC platform plugin

If you need the appliance in VHD format which is required by Virtual PC or Citrix XenServer - there you have it. Usage is very simple:

boxgrinder-build definition.appl -p virtualpc

This is an early stage of the plugin as we want to add more functionality in the future like thin/thick disk support.

Kickstart support removal

As of now support for using Kickstart files as input files for BoxGrinder Build is removed. Kickstart files support was the cause of confusion by many BoxGrinder users. They were expecting that the full plugin chain could be executed, but this wasn't ever true. Only operating system plugin execution was tested, everything else was in the hand of gods.

We're now clear about the support: there is no support for kickstart files.

Virtual machines disk alingment

This is not a direct feature of BoxGrinder, but there was a fix commited to the upstream appliance-tools which enables disk alignment by default. From now on, all appliances made by BoxGrinder are aligned.

New supported EC2 regions: sa-east-1 and us-west-2

You're now free to create your AMI's in new regions: sa-east-1 and us-west-2. More info about selecting the regions you can find in S3 plugin documentation.

Enhanced support for variables (parameters) in any string value field of an appliance definition

As requested by the community, it is now possible to use variables in any value field of an appliance:

name: boxgrinder-#OS_NAME#
os:
  name: fedora
  version: 16

Furthermore, you may now inject custom variables from your environment into your appliances simply by defining them.

$ export MY_ENV="I-LOVE-BoxGrinder"

[...]
  base:
    - "mkdir #MY_ENV#" # This becomes "mkdir I-LOVE-BoxGrinder"

There is a hierarchy in which a variable defined in the variables section of an appliance takes precedence over one defined in the environment. See our mailing list post for more detail.

As an added bonus it is now also possible to define nested variables. BoxGrinder can now resolve the following variable #A# successfully as BoxGrinder Rocks!:

#A#: #B# #C#!
#B#: BoxGrinder
#C#: Rocks

You could define these variables either in the variables section of your appliance, or in the environment. The variables section is better for portability, whereas the environment is useful for baking in one-shot customisations such as fixed MAC addresses.

Full release notes can be found below. If you have any comments - find us or our community.

Release Notes

Bug

  • [BGBUILD-152] - Clarification of Post section inheritance behaviour
  • [BGBUILD-242] - Additional EBS overwrite edge cases
  • [BGBUILD-243] - Misleading error messages when YUM mirrors/mirror-lists are unreachable.
  • [BGBUILD-308] - bg-build 0.9.6 complains about file validation based upon file name
  • [BGBUILD-313] - boxgrinder build fails to build ec2 image if ec2-user already exists
  • [BGBUILD-323] - Invalid kernel version recognition makes recreating initrd impossible
  • [BGBUILD-326] - BoxGrinder can fail when build run from /

Enhancement

  • [BGBUILD-304] - Standarize plugin callbacks
  • [BGBUILD-312] - Only use root privileges when necessary
  • [BGBUILD-318] - Add support for us-west-2 region
  • [BGBUILD-320] - support #ARCH# and/or #BASE_ARCH# replacement anywhere in the appliance definition file
  • [BGBUILD-327] - Resolve appliance definition variables in ENV if they are not defined.

Feature Request

  • [BGBUILD-157] - Add Alignment options for virtual appliances
  • [BGBUILD-195] - Add support for OpenStack
  • [BGBUILD-211] - Support for registering appliances with libvirt (KVM/XEN)
  • [BGBUILD-234] - Host contributed appliance definition files
  • [BGBUILD-267] - Add CentOS 6 support
  • [BGBUILD-302] - Add support for VirtualPC platform
  • [BGBUILD-322] - Allow to specify kernel and ramdisk for ec2 plugin
  • [BGBUILD-331] - Add support for sa-east-1 EC2 region

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