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Managing Images

SmartOS relies on images heavily. Images are templates that contain a disk or filesystem image and metadata which are using when creating new Zones or VM's.

Images are managed using the imgadm tool. With this tool you can:

  • View & Download images available on a public image server
  • Import remote images or Install from local images
  • List, Show or Print details about an image
  • Destroy images

Here we'll discuss how to find available images and start using them. Then we'll look at what images are and how to create our own.   Finally, we look at how to create your own private image server.


Viewing & Downloading Public Images

The default image server is You can edit this list of sources using the imgadm sources -a <URL> command, as documented in imgadm(8). Using the command imgadm update, you'll cause the local cache (/var/db/imgadm/imgcache.json) to be updated with the available images on the servers found in your sources.list. Once your local cache is updated, you can list all available images for use using imgadm avail:

# imgadm avail | head -n 1 ; imgadm avail | tail
UUID                                  NAME                VERSION         OS       PUBLISHED
380539c4-3198-11e5-82c8-bf9eeee6a395  debian-7                20150724    linux    2015-07-24T00:09:14Z
ab3db4c0-31ac-11e5-8856-43e56a8e4285  centos-6                20150724    linux    2015-07-24T02:35:38Z
7459f182-31af-11e5-b23a-eb0fd8799c77  freebsd-10              20150724    bsd      2015-07-24T02:55:34Z
ead4ff68-320a-11e5-bd54-3749d04712df  ubuntu-14.04            20150724    linux    2015-07-24T13:50:17Z
0764d78e-3472-11e5-8949-4f31abea4e05  minimal-32              15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:13:25Z
8ec06130-3472-11e5-bf91-ebc747dbae7e  minimal-64              15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:17:13Z
1e5d6e28-3473-11e5-9e94-1fd77993b49f  minimal-multiarch       15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:21:14Z
2bd52afe-3474-11e5-b07d-c7fb14b2c9e8  base-32                 15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:28:46Z
5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e  base-64                 15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:37:17Z
9caff6c6-3476-11e5-9951-bf98c6cb8636  base-multiarch          15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:46:14Z

# imgadm avail | grep base-64 | tail
c02a2044-c1bd-11e4-bd8c-dfc1db8b0182  base-64-lts             14.4.0      smartos  2015-03-03T15:55:44Z
24648664-e50c-11e4-be23-0349d0a5f3cf  base-64-lts             14.4.1      smartos  2015-04-17T14:15:04Z
4166f6d6-ea5f-11e4-addd-8351b159d9b6  base-64                 15.1.0      smartos  2015-04-24T08:52:36Z
b67492c2-055c-11e5-85d8-8b039ac981ec  base-64-lts             14.4.2      smartos  2015-05-28T17:12:26Z
0edf00aa-0562-11e5-b92f-879647d45790  base-64                 15.1.1      smartos  2015-05-28T17:50:41Z
5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e  base-64                 15.2.0      smartos  2015-07-27T15:37:17Z

To download one of these images, say "base-64", we'll import it using the images UUID:

# imgadm import 5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e
Importing 5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e (base-64@15.2.0) from ""
Gather image 5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e ancestry
Must download and install 1 image (127.2 MiB)
Imported image 5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e (base-64@15.2.0)

# imgadm list
UUID                                  NAME     VERSION       OS  PUBLISHED
5c7d0d24-3475-11e5-8e67-27953a8b237e  base-64  15.2.0   smartos  2015-07-27T15:37:17Z

To learn how to create a Zone or VM from these images, please refer to:

Advanced Topics

What exactly is an Image?

An image is the data and metadata required to create a new VM. The "data" is one or more compressed ZFS datasets which will be cloned to create a new VM. The "metadata" describes, as JSON, the data and outlines the specification for a machine that would utilize it.

Here is an example of the two files:

benr@magnolia:~/datasets$ ls -lh
total 41M
-rw-rw-r-- 1 benr benr 996 Sep 10 14:54 smartos-1.3.12.dsmanifest
-rw-rw-r-- 1 benr benr 41M Jun 10  2011 smartos-1.3.12.zfs.bz2

Image Manifests

The following is an example manifest taken from the public repository (re-arranged and line breaks added for clarity).

You'll notice we have properties to identify the image (UUID, name, version, description, etc), when the image was created/updated/published, and an array identifying the ZFS Dataset file or files, and finally an array outlining some requirements.

    "v": 2,
    "uuid": "febaa412-6417-11e0-bc56-535d219f2590",
    "owner": "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
    "name": "smartos-deprecated",
    "version": "1.3.12",
    "state": "disabled",
    "disabled": true,
    "public": true,
    "published_at": "2011-04-11T08:45:00Z",
    "type": "zone-dataset",
    "os": "smartos",
    "files": [
        "sha1": "246c9ae158dc8f204643afdd6bd4d3c4aa35e733",
        "size": 42016482,
        "compression": "bzip2"
    "description": "Base template to build other templates on. This image is deprecated and is         replaced by the SmartOS Base image (base).",
    "homepage": "",
    "urn": "sdc:sdc:smartos:1.3.12",
    "requirements": {
      "networks": [
          "name": "net0",
          "description": "public"
    "tags": {
      "role": "os"

When creating your own manifest, the following properties are required:

  • uuid: The UUID of the image (use an online UUID generator)
  • name: The name of the image (eg: "centos-6")
  • version: The version of the image (eg: "1.0.0")
  • description: A short description of the image
  • published_at: A timestamp for the date of publication on an image server (this does not need to be accurate); to output the current time in the proper format use the command: date +"%Y-%m-%dT%T.000Z"
  • type: The type of image, either zvol for KVM or zone-dataset for Zones
  • os: The OS of this image, required. As of this writing, must be one of smartos, linux, windows, bsd, illumos, other.
  • files: An array of one or more file objects, containing the following properties for each:
    • path: Local file path to the image data file (compressed zfs dump)
    • sha1: The SHA1 for the image data file; to obtain the SHA1 hash use: digest -a sha1 <file>

The requirements section is recommended but not currently required, nor is it enforced.

Creating a Custom Zone Image

The process of creating a zone image looks like this:

  1. Create and customize a zone as you wish
  2. Purge the logs, etc. and run the sm-prepare-image to make the machine image-ready (remember to read the warning message!).
  3. Halt the zone: vmadm stop <uuid>
  4. Snapshot the Zone dataset: zfs snapshot zones/<uuid>@image
  5. Dump & Compress the dataset: zfs send zones/<uuid>@image | gzip > image_name.zfs.gz
  6. Create the manifest as described above

You can now import the image locally via imgadm or transfer it to an image server.

Dataset Compression

Datasets must be compressed. You may use either Xz, GZip, or BZip2. Currently, GZip is preferred. GZip is compatible with all platform images, and modern platforms have pigz, making gzip fastest as well.

Creating a Custom KVM Image

The process of creating a KVM image looks like this:

  1. Create and customize a KVM instance as you wish
  2. Purge and ready the instance
  3. Halt the VM: vmadm stop <UUID>
  4. Snapshot the disk0 ZVol: zfs snapshot zones/<UUID>-disk0@image
  5. Dump & Compress the dataset: zfs send zones/<UUID>-disk0@image | gzip > image_name.zvol.gz

You can now import the image locally via imgadm or transfer it to an image server.

Importing Images Locally

Typically images are downloaded from an image server, however they can also be imported locally using: imgadm install -m <manifest> -f <file>

The process looks like this:

# imgadm install -m smartos-1.3.12.dsmanifest -f smartos-1.3.12.zfs. bz2
febaa412-6417-11e0-bc56-535d219f2590 doesnt exist. continuing with install
febaa412-6417-11e0-bc56-535d219f2590 successfully installed
image febaa412-6417-11e0-bc56-535d219f2590 successfully imported

Serving Images

If you want to run your own image repository service, see the imgapi Standalone Setup guide and accompanying imgapi documentation.