b9: A tool and library for building virtual machine images.

[ development, library, mit, program ] [ Propose Tags ]
This version is deprecated.

Build virtual machine images for vm-deployments; resize, un-partition, create from scratch or convert disk image files in a variety of formats; assemble and generate all associated files from templates and regular files. VM images can further be modifed through scripts, which are executed in LXC containers into which the vm-images as well as arbitrary directories from the host are mounted. All assembled files can also be accessed by vm build scripts through a special directory mounted in the build container, and/or can be written to directories, ISO- or VFAT-images. The ISO/VFAT images that B9 creates are compatible to 'cloud-init's NoCloud data source; B9 is also very well suited for compiling in a containerized environment. For these applications, the images can be marked as Transient to indicate no further interest in the VM-image itself, and B9 will discard them after the build. B9 will never over-write source files, not even large vm-image files - there is no intended way to modify a source vm-image file 'in-place'. B9 operates in random build directories, which are discarded when the build exists.

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[Last Documentation]

  • B9
    • B9.Artifact
      • B9.Artifact.Content
        • B9.Artifact.Content.AST
        • B9.Artifact.Content.CloudConfigYaml
        • B9.Artifact.Content.ErlTerms
        • B9.Artifact.Content.ErlangPropList
        • B9.Artifact.Content.Readable
        • B9.Artifact.Content.StringTemplate
        • B9.Artifact.Content.YamlObject
      • B9.Artifact.Readable
        • B9.Artifact.Readable.Interpreter
        • B9.Artifact.Readable.Source
    • B9.B9Config
      • B9.B9Config.LibVirtLXC
      • B9.B9Config.Repository
    • B9.B9Monad
    • B9.DiskImageBuilder
    • B9.DiskImages
    • B9.Environment
    • B9.ExecEnv
    • B9.LibVirtLXC
    • B9.MBR
    • B9.PartitionTable
    • B9.QCUtil
    • B9.Repository
    • B9.RepositoryIO
    • B9.Shake
      • B9.Shake.Actions
      • B9.Shake.SharedImageRules
    • B9.ShellScript
    • B9.Vm
    • B9.VmBuilder
  • Data
    • ConfigFile
      • Data.ConfigFile.B9Extras
  • System
    • IO
      • System.IO.B9Extras


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Versions [RSS] 0.2.0, 0.2.1, 0.2.3, 0.2.4, 0.2.5, 0.3.0, 0.3.1, 0.4.0, 0.4.1, 0.5.2, 0.5.3, 0.5.4, 0.5.5, 0.5.7, 0.5.8, 0.5.9, 0.5.10, 0.5.13, 0.5.14, 0.5.15, 0.5.16, 0.5.17, 0.5.18, 0.5.19, 0.5.20, 0.5.21, 0.5.30, 0.5.31, 0.5.32, 0.5.34, 0.5.35, 0.5.41, 0.5.42, 0.5.43, 0.5.44, 0.5.46, 0.5.47, 0.5.48, 0.5.49, 0.5.50, 0.5.51, 0.5.52, 0.5.60, 0.5.61, 0.5.62, 0.5.63, 0.5.65, 0.5.66, 0.5.67, 0.5.68,,,,,, 1.0.0, 1.0.1, 1.1.0, 1.1.1, 2.0.0, 2.1.0, 3.1.0, 3.2.0, 3.2.3 (info)
Change log CHANGELOG.md
Dependencies aeson (>=1.0), async (>=2.1), b9, base (>=4.8 && <5), base64-bytestring, bifunctors (>=5.4), binary (>=0.8.3), boxes (>=0.1.4), bytestring (>=0.10.8), conduit (>=1.2), conduit-extra (>=1.1), ConfigFile (>=1.1.4), directory (>=1.3), exceptions (>=0.10), extensible-effects (>=5 && <6), filepath (>=1.4), free (>=4.12), hashable (>=1.2), lens (>=4), mtl (>=2.2), optparse-applicative (>=0.13), parallel (>=3.2), parsec (>=3.1), pretty (>=1.1), pretty-show (>=1.6), process (>=1.4), QuickCheck (>=2.5), random (>=1.1), semigroups (>=0.18), shake (>=0.17 && <0.18), syb (>=0.6), tagged (>=0.8 && <0.9), template (>=0.2), text (>=1.2), time (>=1.6), transformers (>=0.5), unordered-containers (>=0.2.8), vector (>=0.11), yaml (>=0.8) [details]
License MIT
Copyright 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Sven Heyll <svh@posteo.de>
Author Sven Heyll <svh@posteo.de>
Maintainer svh@posteo.de
Category Development
Home page https://github.com/sheyll/b9-vm-image-builder
Bug tracker https://github.com/sheyll/b9-vm-image-builder/issues
Source repo head: git clone git://github.com/sheyll/b9-vm-image-builder.git
Uploaded by SvenHeyll at 2019-02-26T02:25:25Z
Reverse Dependencies 1 direct, 0 indirect [details]
Executables b9c
Downloads 37939 total (137 in the last 30 days)
Rating 2.0 (votes: 1) [estimated by Bayesian average]
Your Rating
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Status Docs not available [build log]
All reported builds failed as of 2019-02-26 [all 3 reports]

Readme for b9-0.5.62

[back to package description]

B9 - A Benign VM-Build Tool

Build Status Hackage b9 LTS

Use B9 to compile your software into a deployable set of Linux-VM- or configuration images, from a set of scripts and input files and templates

The main goal of this tool is to provide a build tool to increase automation and reduce redundancy when creating configured, ready-to-run VM-images.

It is designed to help implementing what's buzz-worded as immutable infrastructure, by making whole-VM-deployments as safe and a fast as possible.

B9 does not bring infrastructure to run and connect any VM-image in production, it is merely a build tool to assemble deployable artifacts.

One big thing is that it can produce many machines and cloud-configs from a single build file, because build files can describe concrete as well as parameterized generators. It can create parameterized VM-Images by uploading (e.g. system-)files assembled by syntax aware template application and combination, all statically checked by during the build.

This sets B9 apart from e.g. cloud-init or other configuration management systems that provide configuration via user provided dynamic script-programs, which rely on the user to contain correct error handling.

The general idea is the same as in statically type programming languages: catch errors as early as possible without relying on the user to create a covering set of tests/error checks.

Certain sacrifies were made; there might be a steep laerning curve, but you will eventually get there. The tool at hand works stable and reliable. The build files are check rigorously, all builds happen in a random build directory and failure leaves no stale LXC-containers running or multiple GiB of temporary disk image files around. Also, there is no way modify an existing image in place. Work on VM-Images is always done on a copy of an image, and to speed things up, it is possible to explicitly use copy-on-write images.

B9 creates bootable virtual machine images, without necessarily using virtualization itself.

In essence B9 is a tool for creation, configuration and sharing of VM images and all peripheral artifacts, it creates:

  • VMDK/QCOW2/Raw VM images
  • Converted, extracted and resized copies of existing vm images
  • Empty VM images with extended 4 file system
  • Cloud-Config Images
  • Text files from template files with variable interpolation
  • Erlang OTP sys.config files
  • beqemu-life-installer compatible VM images

B9 creates/converts/assembles virtual disk images as well as any number of config-input files and executes scripts in LXC containers into which these images are mounted.

The input is in both cases a single, text-based configuration file wich can be put along side with other build files (e.g. Makefiles, maven poms, ...).

Some Random Features:

  • Tailored for both software compilation environments and VM image creation
  • Creation of cloud-init (NoCloud) ISO images, VFAT images and directories
  • Assembly and creation of arbitrary files with safe variable interpolation
  • Creation of multiple images/machines/cloud-configs based on creation rules
  • Syntax-checked merging of several cloud-config yaml user-data files with variable expansion
  • Syntax-checked parsing and recombination of Erlang/OTP sys.config files with variable expansion
  • Reusing and Sharing of vm-images, e.g. via The Internet using 'push' and 'pull'
  • Arbitrary command execution inside a guest container
  • Execution of interactive commands inside guest containers
  • Create empty VM Images with file system
  • Builtin config file formatter
  • Create CopyOnWrite-Images backed by existing QCow2 or Raw images
  • Create disk images from other disk image
  • Derive disk images from a partition inside of an existing disk image
  • Transparent support for QCOW2, VMDK and Raw (intermediate images will have the appropriate formats)
  • Resize images and optionally also file systems inside disk images
  • Support for 64-bit and 32-bit guests
  • Share directories with the host
  • Haskell library for parsing the config files and running builds
  • Speed: Smart disk image conversion, raw image preference, flexible configuration, simple profiling
  • Configurable Logging
  • Automatic build clean-up
  • Configurable LibVirtLXC parameters
  • Configurable remote (ssh with pubkey auth + rsync) image shareing
  • Local caching of shared images


b9 executable and library

Install via stack:

$ stack install b9

Runtime dependencies

To be able to use B9 install:

  • Linux
  • lxc
  • libvirt with lxc support (libvirt-driver-lxc, libvirt-daemon-lxc,...)
  • virsh
  • qemu
  • ext4 tools
  • genisoimage
  • mtools
  • vfat tools
  • ssh
  • rsync
  • bash
  • wget
  • sudo

B9 has been tested with libvirt version 1.2.12.

Make sure that all neccessary daemons, e.g. libvirtd.service, lxc.service,.. are active, that SELinux is configured correctly and that the nbd kernel module is loaded.

If neccessary create a libvirt network configuration, e.g. by using the GUI front-endvirt-manager.

Depending upon the libvirt and lxc configuration of the system it might be nessary to allow the user, that will execute b9c, password-less sudo for these commands:

  • virsh
  • rm
  • cat
  • cp
  • mv

After installing B9 (either from a binary package or by building from source) all its glory is availbe through a single executable called b9c.

When b9c is started for the first time, it creates a configuration file in the users home directory called ~/.b9/b9.conf. The path to that file can be changed using command line arguments. Execute:

b9c -h

for a list of command line parameters and commands.

b9c command line arguments always follow this pattern:

b9c <global-options> <command> <command-options> -- <build-script-extra-args>

To enable B9 to work correctly on your machine edit the config file and make necessary adaptions.

B9 configuration file

This is an example of a B9 configuration file, by default found in ~/.b9/b9.conf:

# optional alternative directory for temporary build files. If 'Nothing'
# the current directory is used.
build_dir_root: Just "/home/sven/tmp"
environment_vars: []
exec_env: LibVirtLXC
keep_temp_dirs: False
# if set to 'Just "filename"
log_file: Nothing
profile_file: Nothing
unique_build_dirs: True
verbosity: Just LogInfo

connection: lxc:///
emulator_path: /usr/lib/libvirt/libvirt_lxc
# contains `Just "libvirt-network-name"` or `Nothing` for your libvirt
# default network settings
network: Nothing
use_sudo: True
virsh_path: /usr/bin/virsh

Some of the options can also be specified on the command line.

Writing B9 build files

If you really need to write these file, you are basically f'ed.

For now, look at existing config files and read the sources, if anything, make sure to read at least the chapter Anger-Management before throwing stuff around.

More documentation is comming soon!

General Structure

A B9 configuration describes a single ArtifactGenerator. It generates files belonging to a VM, such as qcow2/raw/vmdk-image file(s) and e.g. cloud-init ISO image files.

Just to recap: a something.b9 build file is always ever only a mere ArtifactGenerator literal, no matter how many Let, Each, Artifacts, etc... you see flying around there.

Creating artifacts

To get any real artifact out of an artifact generator use the Artifact constructor. It takes 2 parameters an arbitrary id and a describtion of what the artifact consists of:

 Artifact (IID "some_instance_id")
          (VmImages ... | CloudInit ...)

An artifact can either be a (set of) VM-disk-image(s) likely in combination with some shell script to install software, etc or a static collection of files put on a cloud-init image(VFAT or ISO or directory).

Defining artifact generators that produce vm image files

To produce vm image files, e.g. with some software installed use the VmImages artifact generator. It has only 2 parameters:

    [ ... disk image targets ... ]
    ( ... installation script ...)

Of course it must be wrapped in an Artifact definition, so we get this structure:

 Artifact (IID "my_first_image")
   (VmImages [...] (...))


The first argument to VmImages is a list of ImageTarget. Each describes a single VM-disk-image. The syntax is:

  • An ImageDestination specifies if/where to put the output image.
  • An ImageSource specifies how the image is created or from where it is taken.
  • A MountPoint specifies where to mount the image during the execution of an optional VmBuild-script.

Parameterized artifact generators

B9 supports $varnam variable interpolation in all strings anywhere in an ArtifactGenerator:

  • All filenames and paths
  • All id strings and names
  • Template files included via e.g. Template
  • In every string in VmScripts (e.g. in Run "${cmd}" ["${world}"])
  • Also in all included template files (e.g. included via Template)

Parameters can be defined using Let, Each and special command line arguments.

To pass parameters via the command line, append them after the argument delimiter option -- which ends the list of regular b9c arguments:

b9c -v build -f file1.b9 .. -- arg_1 arg_2 ...

The parameters are bound to ${arg_1}, ${arg_2}, that is variables indicating the corresponding position on the command line.

To define variables using Let, write:

Let [key-value-pairs, ...]
    [artifactgenerators, ...]

All key-value bindings defined in the first list are available in every artifact generator contained in the second list (body).

A key-value binding, e.g. ("hostname", "www.acme.org"), consist of two strings on parens seperated by a , (comma). The left string is the key, and the right string is the value.

This ("webserver", "www.${domainname}") is an example to show that the value may also contain a variable reference. (Of course, only to variabled defined before)


B9 build files contain a single literal ArtifactGenerator value in Haskell syntax. B9 currently 'parses' the config file without any error checking, so writing config files is VERY frustrating without some tricks:

Trick 1

Start with a working file and run

b9c reformat -f <filename>

after each modification. The reformat command only parses and - hence the name - (re-) formats/pretty-prints the files passed with -f options.

You will immediately know if a modification broke the file.

NOTE: If your build file refers to any ${arg_...} positional arguments pass them to reformat using -- followed by the argument list.

Trick 2

Obtain and build the sources of B9, start an interactive haskell shell with the B9 code loaded and try to paste the contents of the config file to see if ghci accepts it. Use the ghci macros :{ and :} to begin and end a multi-line input and paste the raw contents of the config file in question in between.

$ cabal install
$ cabal repl

... (many lines omitted) ...

*B9> :{
*B9| Artifact (IID "filer")
*B9|   (VmImages [ ImageTarget
*B9|                 (LocalFile (Image "EXPORT/machines/filer/disks/0.vmdk" Vmdk Ext4)
*B9|                             KeepSize)
*B9|                 (From "fedora-20-prod" KeepSize)
*B9|                 (MountPoint "/")
*B9|             , ImageTarget
*B9|                 (LocalFile (Image "EXPORT/machines/filer/disks/1.vmdk" Vmdk Ext4)
*B9|                             KeepSize)
*B9|                 (EmptyImage "audio_files" Ext4 Raw (ImageSize 64 GB))
*B9|                 (MountPoint "/export/lb/audio")
*B9|             ]
*B9|             (VmScript X86_64
*B9|               [ SharedDirectoryRO "./filer" (MountPoint "/mnt/build_root")
*B9|               , SharedDirectoryRO "../_common/upload" (MountPoint "/mnt/common")]
*B9|               (Begin
*B9|                  [ Run "dhclient" []
*B9|                  , In "/mnt/build_root" [ Run "./machine-" [] ]
*B9|                  , In "/mnt/common" [ Run "./post_export.sh" [] ]
*B9|                  ])))
*B9| :}

Artifact (IID "filer") (VmImages
[ImageTarget (LocalFile (Image "EXPORT/machines/filer/disks/0.vmdk" Vmdk Ext4) KeepSize)
(From "fedora-20-prod" KeepSize) (MountPoint "/"),ImageTarget
(LocalFile (Image "EXPORT/machines/filer/disks/1.vmdk" Vmdk Ext4) KeepSize)
(EmptyImage "audio_files" Ext4 Raw (ImageSize 64 GB)) (MountPoint "/export/lb/audio")]
(VmScript X86_64
[SharedDirectoryRO "./filer" (MountPoint "/mnt/build_root"),
SharedDirectoryRO "../_common/upload" (MountPoint "/mnt/common")]
(Begin [Run "dhclient" [],In "/mnt/build_root" [Run "./machine-" []],In
"/mnt/common" [Run "./post_export.sh" []]])))