You have probably received a root-filesystem, which has been built with ELBE. Additionally you should have an XML file describing the root-filesystem.
This quickstart guide describes the steps necessary to rebuild the root-filesystem from the XML file and to simple modifications.
- install Debian 8 (Jessie) on your Host
- install ELBE on Host Linux
- generate the
initvmrunning the buildenvironment
- build the root-filesystem inside the initvm
Steps 1 and 2 need only be performed once.
When Debian is running inside a VM (vmware etc), you need to make sure, that nested KVM is working.
Customisation of the build¶
The ELBE XML can contain an archive, which can contain configuration files, and additional software. This archive is extracted onto the target-image during the buildprocess. It allows you to override any file, which needs to be different from the default Debian Install.
This guide also explains how the archive can be extracted from the XML file, and vice versa.
ELBE allows to manipulate the generated root-filesystem through a set of
<finetuning> rules. We also describe, how these can be used to add a
user, change directory permissions, and remove files from the
There are several possibilities to install ELBE. The simplest method is by installing prebuilt binary packages via Linutronix package repository on a Debian 8 (Jessie) system.
But ELBE can also be installed from git.
Binary Debian packages¶
The latest packages for elbe reside in the following repository
Create the file
/etc/apt/sources.list.d/elbe.list with the following
deb http://debian.linutronix.de/elbe-testing jessie main deb http://debian.linutronix.de/elbe-common jessie main
Add a repository key to the list of trusted keys (as root):
$ wget -q -O - http://debian.linutronix.de/elbe-common/elbe-repo.pub | apt-key add -
Then run (as root):
$ apt-get update $ apt-get install elbe
If you can not use Debian Jessie, you can also checkout the current ELBE source-code via git from github.
$ git clone https://github.com/Linutronix/elbe.git Cloning into 'elbe'... remote: Counting objects: 5435, done. remote: Compressing objects: 100% (8/8), done. remote: Total 5435 (delta 1), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 5427 Receiving objects: 100% (5435/5435), 1.94 MiB | 1.92 MiB/s, done. Resolving deltas: 100% (3943/3943), done. Checking connectivity... done. $ cd elbe $ ls AUTHORS ChangeLog COPYING debian dockerfile docs elbe elbepack examples INSTALL Makefile README setup.py test THANKS TODO
ELBE can run without being installed from the git checkout. Just note that file paths are different under this situation.
elbe -> ./elbe /usr/share/doc/elbe-doc/examples -> examples/
Create initvm and submit XML files¶
The first thing you need to do is set up a virtual-machine for generating root-filesystems.
This virtual-machine is referred to as “initvm”. You will want your initvm to be the same architecture as your workstation. This allows using hardware accelerated virtualization implemented by kvm.
In order to be able to work with virtual machines as a regular user, that user needs to be added to some groups depending on Debian version:
For Debian/stretch, jessie-backports, and newer:
$ adduser <youruser> libvirt $ adduser <youruser> libvirt-qemu
For jessie and older:
$ adduser <youruser> kvm $ adduser <youruser> libvirt
$ elbe initvm create --directory=initvm /home/torbenh/elbe/elbe/initvm gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmpPfPXt4/secring.gpg' created gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmpPfPXt4/etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linutronix-elbe.gpg' created gpg: key 22BB8F84: public key "ELBE Devel (Linutronix ELBE developers) <email@example.com>" imported gpg: Total number processed: 1 gpg: imported: 1 (RSA: 1) --2015-08-17 15:26:26-- http://debian.linutronix.de/elbe/elbe-repo.pub Resolving debian.linutronix.de (debian.linutronix.de)... 2001:470:1f0b:db:abcd:42:0:1, 126.96.36.199 Connecting to debian.linutronix.de (debian.linutronix.de)|2001:470:1f0b:db:abcd:42:0:1|:80... connected. HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK Length: 1763 (1.7K) Saving to: ‘/tmp/tmpPfPXt4/tmpkey.gpg’ /tmp/tmpPfPXt4/tmpkey.gpg 100%[========================================================================>] 1.72K --.-KB/s in 0s 2015-08-17 15:26:26 (346 MB/s) - ‘/tmp/tmpPfPXt4/tmpkey.gpg’ saved [1763/1763] ... Installing the base system ... 17%... 20%... 30%... 40%... 50%... 60%... 70%... 83%... 91%... 100% Configuring apt ... 16%... 25%... 32%... 41%... 50%... 66%... 75%... 83%... 91%... 100% Select and install software ... 10%... 26%... 31%... 40%... 50%... 61%... 70%... 80%... 90%... 100% Installing GRUB boot loader ... 16%... 33%... 50%... 66%... 83%... 100% The system is going down NOW!.. 14%... 23%... 33%... 42%... 52%... 61%... 71%... 80%... 90% Sent SIGTERM to all processes Sent SIGKILL to all processes Requesting system reboot [ 589.432092] Restarting system. mkdir -p .stamps touch .stamps/stamp-install-initial-image
This creates an “initvm” subdirectory and builds the initvm inside this directory.
Submitting an XML file¶
Submitting an XML file triggers an image build inside the initvm. Once the initvm has been created and is running, you can submit XML files using
$ elbe initvm submit --directory=initvm /usr/share/doc/elbe-doc/examples/rescue.xml Build started, waiting till it finishes project still busy, waiting project still busy, waiting ... project still busy, waiting project still busy, waiting project still busy, waiting Build finished ! ELBE Package validation ======================= Package List validation ---------------------- No Errors found Getting generated Files Saving generated Files to /home/torbenh/elbe/elbe/elbe-build-20150817-155038 source.xml (Current source.xml of the project) rescue.cpio (Image) validation.txt (Package list validation result) elbe-report.txt (Report) log.txt (Log file)
The result of the build is stored in elbe-build-<TIMESTAMP> below your current working directory.
Ports opened by initvm¶
The initvm will open port 7587 on localhost. This is used by the elbe tools on your host to communicate with the initvm.
The ELBE XML file contains an archive which is extracted into the root-filesystem during the image generation phase.
It is acessed with the following commands:
$ elbe get_archive fun.xml archive.tar.bz2
It is a normal tar.bz2 which can be manipulated and reinjected into the XML:
$ mkdir arch $ tar xvfj archive.tar.bz2 -C arch $ echo hello > arch/hello $ elbe chg_archive fun.xml arch
Adding packages to the “list of packages to install”¶
The XML file contains a list of packages to install
<target> XML node. Inserting a line containing
will add the
util-linux package to the target-rfs.
Using the finetuning rules¶
An ELBE XML file can contain a set of finetuning rules. Finetuning is
used to customize the target-rfs, e.g. remove man-pages. Here is an
example finetuning from
<finetuning> <rm>var/cache/apt/archives/*.deb</rm> <adduser passwd="elbe" shell="/bin/bash">elbe</adduser> </finetuning>
<rm> node removes files from the target-rfs.
The adduser node allows to create a user. The following example creates
elbe with the password
It is also possible to specify groups the new user should be part of:
<adduser passwd="foo" shell="/bin/bash" groups="audio,video,dialout">elbe</adduser>
Changing ownership of directories or files¶
There is currently no special finetuning node for
chown. These commands needs to be specified via the command tag,
which allows running any command that is available in the target-rfs.
<command>chown elbe:elbe /mnt</command> <command>chmod 777 /mnt</command>
A more complete example can be found in the ELBE overview document that
is installed at
Using the Elbe Pbuilder Feature¶
Since Version 1.9.2, elbe is able to create a pbuilder Environment. You can create a pbuilder for a specific xml File inside the initvm.
The repositories and architecture specified in the xml File will be used to satisfy build dependencies. Pbuilder will only build debianised Software.
Currently only source formats
3.0 (native) and
3.0 (git) are
supported and tested.
3.0 (quilt) does not work.
A pbuilder instance is always associated with a project inside the
pbuilder create command will write the project uuid to a
file, if instructed to do so.
pbuilder build works like
pdebuild, in that it uploads the
current working directory into the initvm pbuilder project, and then
builds it using the pbuilder instance created earlier.
Here is an example:
$ elbe pbuilder create --xmlfile fun.xml --writeproject fun.prj $ cd program $ elbe pbuilder build --project `cat ../fun.prj` --output ../out
You might have your own packages which should be installed into your image. This can be done with a custom repository. You can use reprepro to create your own repository.
Because the repository needs to be signed using
gpg, a key needs to
-> gpg --default-new-key-algo rsa4096 --gen-key gpg (GnuPG) 2.1.18; Copyright (C) 2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law. Note: Use "gpg --full-generate-key" for a full featured key generation dialog. GnuPG needs to construct a user ID to identify your key. Real name: Torben Hohn Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org You selected this USER-ID: "Torben Hohn <email@example.com>" Change (N)ame, (E)mail, or (O)kay/(Q)uit? O We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number generator a better chance to gain enough entropy. gpg: key 68E68615BB6CB47C marked as ultimately trusted gpg: directory '/home/torbenh/.gnupg/openpgp-revocs.d' created gpg: revocation certificate stored as '/home/torbenh/.gnupg/openpgp-revocs.d/CF837F1AAAC35E084062AE4468E68615BB6CB47C.rev' public and secret key created and signed. Note that this key cannot be used for encryption. You may want to use the command "--edit-key" to generate a subkey for this purpose. pub rsa4096 2018-10-08 [SC] [expires: 2020-10-07] CF837F1AAAC35E084062AE4468E68615BB6CB47C CF837F1AAAC35E084062AE4468E68615BB6CB47C uid Torben Hohn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Please note the keyname (here
CF837F1AAAC35E084062AE4468E68615BB6CB47C). This keyname can then be
used to export the public key into a repo.pub file.
gpg --export --armor CF837F1AAAC35E084062AE4468E68615BB6CB47C > repo.pub
To create your own repository with reprepro you need only the
distributions configuration file. For an
repository for Debian
stretch it might look as follows:
Origin: mylocal Label: mylocal Suite: stable Codename: stretch Architectures: amd64 source Components: main Description: my local repo SignWith: CF837F1AAAC35E084062AE4468E68615BB6CB47C
SignWith: field needs to be the key of the previously
Now place the
distributions file in a
conf named directory. also
repo.pub into your
repo/ ├── conf │ └── distributions └── repo.pub
insert pkgs into repo¶
To include packages in your repository you might use the following
command from inside the
$ reprepro include stretch ../path/to/your/*.changes
To use this repository from ELBE you need a webserver. Simply place the repository inside the document root of your webserver.
If the webserver is running on the same machine as the initvm you can use the following to access the repository:
<url-list> <url> <binary>http://LOCALMACHINE/repo/ jessie main</binary> <source>http://LOCALMACHINE/repo/ jessie main</source> <key>http://LOCALMACHINE/repo/key.pub</key> </url> </url-list>
ELBE replaces the string
LOCALMACHINE with the ip address of your
machine. If you use an external machine as webserver you need to replace
LOCALMACHINE with the name or the ip of it.
Now you can install packages from your custom repository the same way you can install from any other repository.