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Run Cloud images on libvirt virtual machines

Project description

Downburst is a tool for quickly creating virtual machines on libvirt. It uses Ubuntu’s Cloud Images and qcow2 copy-on-write clones to make a VM creation practically instantaneous, customizing them at boot time with cloud-init.

For more information on Ubuntu Cloud Images, please refer to:


You can install Downburst like any other Python package, but it also comes with a convenient bootstrap script that sets it up in a virtual environment under the source directory. Just run:

git clone
cd downburst

And from there on, use:

./virtualenv/bin/downburst ARGS..

You can also symlink that to e.g. ~/bin/.


You need to give a unique name to your vm. This will become the hostname of the vm, and the libvirt domain name. Run:

downburst -C URI create NAME

If this tool is not being used for an Inktank machine or an Inktank employee then you should pass the –nokey option to not install the default inktank ssh key to the created guest’s authorized_hosts file.

downburst -C URI create NAME –nokey

The URI is the alias set in uri_aliases in ~/.config/libvirt/libvirt.conf. Example:

uri_aliases = [

You can delete a guest with (use caution):

downburst -c URI destroy NAME

By default, your local SSH public key (grabbed from ~/.ssh/ is authorized to log in as ubuntu.

You can also pass in EC2-style meta-data and user-data snippets; if you repeat the argument, the files will be merged:

downburst create --meta-data=FILE.meta.yaml \
  --user-data=FILE.user.yaml NAME

See doc/examples/ for ideas on meta-data and user-data usage, and explore the Ubuntu links above.

Valid Downburst options in meta yaml with their defaults if undefined:

disk-size: (disk space)
Default 10G. Example: 20G
additional-disks: (number of additional drives for the guest)
Default 0. Example: 5 (for 5 additional drives)
additional-disks-size: (Size of the additional disks)
Default 10G. Example: 100G
ram: (ram amount)
Default 512M. Example: 2G
cpu: (cpu/core count)
Default 1. Example 4
networks: (what nics/networks/mac addresses)::
Default Nat. Example:
  • source: front mac: 52:54:00:5a:aa:ee
distro: (distro type)
Default ubuntu. Example centos
distroversion: (distro version)
Default (if ubuntu) “12.04”. Example “12.10”
arch: (Image architecture)
Default “amd64, can be “i386” or “amd64/x86_64”

Distro/distroversion/arch can also be set during command line creation with –distro=value or –distroversion=value or –arch=value

All available distributions/versions can be listed by running:

downburst list

Static SSH key generation

Downburst also includes a utility to create static SSH keys, for when you want to delete and recreate the vm repeatedly, but not have SSH complain all the time.

To set it up, run this once:

downburst gen-ssh-key >NAME.user.yaml

And from there on, recreate the vm (after deleting it) with:

downburst create --user-data=NAME.user.yaml NAME

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