A quick and dirty unattended installation of Ubuntu 16 LTS, and a recipe for creating a vagrant box from the resulting ISO image
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This repo will help you create an unattended install ISO file with Ubuntu 16 LTS where the default user is "ops" and you choose a password for the user when you build the ISO.

  • SOE = Standard Operating Environment
  • We use this image as a bare minimum for what Ansible need to bootstrap our servers
  • This Makefile is set up to be run on an Ubuntu Linux system and requires the package "genisoimage" to be installed.
  • The username/password is set in my_files/kmg-ks.preseed through replacing the string XXX_PASSWORD_XXX with the content of the file password_hash, which is generated when you run "make soe"
  • The resulting ISO image will be named soe-ubuntu-16.04.iso
  • The default user is "ops" unless you make the ISO with "make soe USER=XYZ"
  • If you want to use an ssh key for the ops user, copy the public key to this directory and name it "public_key"

The Makefile in this directory will:

  • Ask for a password to use for the user "ops"
  • The Ubuntu 16.04 LTS image ubuntu-16.04-server-amd64.iso image is automatically downloaded
  • A mount point (./mnt) is created
  • The Ubuntu ISO image is mounted on ./mnt
  • All files in ./mnt is copied to ./work.dir
  • The files in my_files/* are copied to the proper places in ./work.dir
  • If present, the file "public_key" will be used for the ops user
  • A new iso image with your configuration is created, which you then can use for an "unattended" installation of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Creating a SOE iso

This is all you need to do to create your own SOE ISO image.

git clone git@github.com:maglub/soe-ubuntu.git
cd soe-ubuntu
sudo apt-get -y install make genisoimage syslinux-utils
make soe

Other usage alternatives:

make download
make mnt
make mount
make clean
make dist-clean

Normally you will not need to type "make clean" or "make dist-clean"

Notes concerning this ISO

  • When building this ISO, we default to the old way of network interface naming (eth0, ..., ethN) instead of the new naming scheme by passing arguments to the kernel at boot
  • The default user and password is configured in the my_files/kmg-ks.preseed file. See below for how to generate the hashed password if you want to create the file password_hash yourself
  • Info: Vagrant uses Virtual box per default, and creates a second NIC interface (eth1 in Ubuntu) with the choosen ip address in the Vagrant file. This way you will have internet access through NAT/DHCP on the primary NIC (eth0), and network access on the local host through the second interface. Therefore the ISO image created here will automatically choose the first available NIC (eth0) as the default network interface.

To ensure that the old network interface naming is used the workaround is to put the following lines into my_files/kmg-ks.preseed to first tell the kernel to use the old eth scheme. This will ensure that the installed VM will use the ethN naming.

  • my_files/kmg-ks.preseed -> tells the installer to add an entry in /etc/default/grub (the net...), which will revert to the old ethN scheme
#--- re-enabling eth0 interface names for Ubuntu 16 LTS
d-i debian-installer/add-kernel-opts string net.ifnames=0 biosdevname=0

You will also have to make sure that the installer use the same naming scheme (ethN). Otherwise the /etc/network/interfaces file will have the wrong interface names after install.

  • my_files/isolinux/txt.cfg -> the append of the kernel parameters after -- tells the installer to use the old school ethN scheme
default kmg
label kmg
  menu label ^KMG - Install Ubuntu Server
  kernel /install/vmlinuz
  append  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-server.seed initrd=/install/initrd.gz ks=cdrom:/kmg-ks.cfg preseed/file=/cdrom/kmg-ks.preseed -- net.ifnames=0 biosdevname=0


Vagrant -> set up a new vagrant image

This section will describe how you set up a VM in Virtual Box with 2 NICs, an 8GB hard disk, mount the iso image and boot it up for installation.

  • Nic1 -> NAT -> Add port forwarding tcp port 9999 to 22, so that you can easily ssh into your system with "ssh -p 9999 ops@localhost" after installation
  • Nic2 -> Host only adapter vboxnet0
  • Mount soe-ubuntu.iso file of choice
  • Boot up the VM for installation
#--- choose your own vmName and isoImage location
isoImage=`pwd`/`ls -1tr soe-ubuntu-*.iso | tail -1`

#--- copy/paste this
VBoxManage createvm --name "$vmName" --register
vmDir=$(VBoxManage showvminfo "$vmName" | grep "^Config file:"  | awk -F":" '{print $2}' | xargs -L1 -IX dirname "X")
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --memory 512 --acpi on --boot1 dvd --vram 33 --cpus 1
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --nic1 nat --nictype1 82540EM
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --nic2 hostonly --nictype2 82540EM --hostonlyadapter2 vboxnet0
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --cableconnected1 on
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --cableconnected2 on
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --natpf1 ",tcp,,9999,,22"
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName" --ostype Ubuntu_64
VBoxManage modifyvm "$vmName"  --ioapic on
VBoxManage createhd --filename "$vmDir/${vmName}.vdi" --size 12000
VBoxManage storagectl "$vmName" --name "SATA" --add sata
VBoxManage storageattach "$vmName" --storagectl "SATA" --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium "${vmDir}/${vmName}.vdi"
VBoxManage storagectl "$vmName" --name "IDE" --add ide
VBoxManage storageattach "$vmName" --storagectl "IDE" --port 1 --device 0 --type dvddrive --medium "$isoImage"

VBoxManage showvminfo "$vmName"
VBoxManage startvm "$vmName"

#VBoxManage controlvm "$vmName"  poweroff 
#VBoxManage unregistervm "$vmName" --delete
  • Boot and install (automatic install)

The installation will take a couple of minutes.

  • Attach VBoxGuesAdditions
#--- linux:

#--- mac: 

VBoxManage storageattach "$vmName" --storagectl "IDE"  --port 1 --device 0 --type dvddrive --medium "${additionsIso}"
  • Connect to your newly installed VM with the user you have as default user in your iso image. The port 9999 is choosen above when we created the virtual machine, and we are ignoring the fact that your known_hosts file might be tainted by old incarnations of this ip address:
ssh -p 9999 -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no ops@localhost
  • Run the following commands in the newly installed VM
echo "vagrant ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL" | sudo tee  /tmp/vagrant.sudoers
sudo visudo -f /tmp/vagrant.sudoers -c && sudo chmod 600 /tmp/vagrant.sudoers && sudo mv /tmp/vagrant.sudoers /etc/sudoers.d/vagrant
sudo useradd -m -s /bin/bash vagrant
echo -e "vagrant\nvagrant" | sudo passwd vagrant

sudo -u vagrant mkdir -p /home/vagrant/.ssh
sudo chmod 0700 /home/vagrant/.ssh
sudo -u vagrant wget --no-check-certificate  https://raw.github.com/mitchellh/vagrant/master/keys/vagrant.pub  -O /home/vagrant/.ssh/authorized_keys
sudo chmod 0600 /home/vagrant/.ssh/authorized_keys
sudo chown -R vagrant /home/vagrant/.ssh

cat<<EOT | sudo tee -a /etc/network/interfaces
# The contents below are automatically generated by Vagrant. Do not modify.
auto eth1
iface eth1 inet static
  • If you did not already mount the VBoxGuestAdditions.iso (see above), select the console window for your VM and select Devices->Insert Guest Additions CD. Then do the following to mount the DVD and install the guest additions:
sudo apt-get install -y gcc build-essential
#--- alternatively
# sudo apt-get install -y dkms gcc

sudo mount /dev/cdrom /mnt
cd /mnt
sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run

#--- check version
lsmod | grep -io vboxguest | xargs modinfo | grep -iw version

sudo shutdown -r now
  • Patch the system
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade
sudo shutdown -r now
  • Log in and clean up again
sudo dpkg -l linux-{image,headers}-"[0-9]*" | awk '/^ii/{ print $2}' | grep -vE `uname -r | awk -F"-" '{print $1"-"$2}'` | sudo xargs -L1 -IX sudo apt-get -y purge X
sudo apt-get clean
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/EMPTY bs=1M
sudo rm -f /EMPTY
cat /dev/null > ~/.bash_history && history -c && exit
  • On your local computer (based on the assumption that your Virtualbox VM is named test-vl001local):
mkdir vagrant_packages
cd vagrant_packages
[ -f package.box ] && rm package.box
vagrant package --base ${vmName}
vagrant box add $boxName package.box --force



Remove MBR

# sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=446 count=1

Generate password on the commandline

mkpasswd  -m sha-512 -S saltsalt -s <<< mySuperSecretPassword

Notes concerning Apple OSX

The Ubuntu ISO images are in a hybrid format, which is not directly readable on a Mac. There is a workaround to be able to mount the iso anyway. Also, there is no native mkisofs binary in OSX, so you will need to install "dvdrtools" through Brew (http://brew.sh/). Also, there is no mkpasswd, so you will have to be ok with a weaker password hash. This should be ok, since you should remove the password and disable login to the bootstrap user "ops" anyway.

brew install dvdrtools
  • Manually create the password_hash file
openssl passwd -1 "P@ssw0rd" > password_hash
  • Attach the iso image so that it gets a /dev/diskN device
  • Mount the /dev/diskN device using disk type "cd9660"
#--- copy/paste
brew install dvdrtools
brew install wget
make download # --> will download the ubuntu image
make mnt
isoDevice=$(hdiutil attach -nobrowse -nomount ./$isoImage | head -1 | cut -d" " -f1)
mount -t cd9660 $isoDevice ./mnt

make soe

Special considerations

  • This image will boot without framebuffer, i.e GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="nomodeset" in /etc/default/grub


Display information about the image

hdiutil imageinfo ubuntu-16.04-server-amd64.iso
  • Display the partition map
hdiutil pmap ubuntu-16.04-server-amd64.iso

Attach to the image but don't mount anything. It will print out the useable partitions like so:

/dev/disk2 FDisk_partition_scheme
/dev/disk2s2 0xEF

Since this is a hybrid image, the one I want is the first one.

mount -t cd9660 /dev/disk2 /tmp/cd Where I have created /tmp/cd (as root). Now the full CD is mounted at /tmp/cd

When I'm done, do the following...

hdiutil detach /dev/disk2

Tips and tricks

Patch the iso to be bootable also as USB

isohybrid soe-ubuntu-XXX.iso

Format USB stick with FAT32 in MacOS

  • For some applications (i.e Ultimaker 3d-printer) it is important to use the MBR partition scheme. For SOE Linux, it is sometimes useful to have a FAT32 USB.
diskutil list
diskutil unmountdisk /dev/myDisk2
sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 ISO MBRFormat /dev/myDisk2


When setting up a system, using ks.preseed, we want to choose the first disk, or at least a specific one. When using m2 SSD, we don't have sda as the first disk, but /dev/nvme0n1. This might be possible with the following construct. Not yet tested.

d-i partman/early_command string \
  PRIMARYDISK=$(lsblk -lbn --output SIZE,NAME | sort -n | tail -n 1 | cut -d" " -f2);\
  debconf-set partman-auto/disk "$PRIMARYDISK";