Windows VM using LXD

It’s not entirely obvious how to create a Windows Virtual Machine when using LXD. Here are the most basic steps to get it up and running. This is largely for my own documentation but will probably help someone else out there I’m sure.

The easiest option is to embed the VirtIO drivers directly into the Windows ISO using distrobuilder (via snap). This is the method I’ll be demonstrating. Alternatively, you could attach both ISO’s and when it comes to selecting a drive to install to (during windows installer) you’ll have to click the ‘load drivers from removable media’ and select them from their.

First, install the needed tools. Note, you’re more than welcome to compile distrobuilder from source, but using the snap is much quicker.

sudo snap install distrobuilder --classic
sudo apt install -y libguestfs-tools wimtools

Proceed to download the needed ISOs. You can download Windows ISO HERE and VirtIO ISO HERE.

Now we’re ready to embed the drivers directly into the Windows ISO. Here’s the command:

sudo distrobuilder repack-windows /home/shaner/Downloads/win10_21H2.iso ./win10_packed.iso --drivers=/home/shaner/Downloads/virtio-win.iso

Next, we create an empty machine (VM),set the disk size, and attach our custom ISO with virtio drivers.

lxc init win10pro --empty --vm -c security.secureboot=false
lxc config device override win10pro root size=40GiB
lxc config device add win10pro iso disk source=/home/shaner/win10_packed.iso  boot.priority=10

Now, start the machine and attach to the VGA console to walk-through the installer:

lxc start win10pro --console=vga

Once the install is complete, be sure to enable Remote Desktop as it’s a much better experience than using the LXC (spice) console.

Hashicorp Vault Dev Mode

Ever needed to spin-up a quick Vault cluster to test commands or functionality? Sure, you could spin up minikube and deploy a helm chart, but what if you could do it even faster, without Kubernetes?

Vault actually has some *currently* undocumented command-line options that can save you a ton of time. Read on, brother.

I debated on even writing a post about it because it’s so simple. It’s literally a command-line flag -dev-three-node . Below, I’m redirecting STDERR to STDOUT and redirecting to a file called output, if you’re not a Linux fan.

$ vault server -dev-three-node -dev-root-token-id="root" > output 2>&1 &

I redirect to a file because the output is too fast to catch the needed info. Let’s use head to see the useful bits.

$ head -30 output
==> Vault server configuration:

                     Cgo: disabled
 Cluster Parameters Path: /tmp/vault-test-cluster-282710121
              Go Version: go1.16.12
               Log Level: info
      Node 0 Api Address:
      Node 1 Api Address:
      Node 2 Api Address:
                 Version: Vault v1.7.9
             Version Sha: 571cd46419fe273d75de1e0d5aa46af60a222961

==> Three node dev mode is enabled

The unseal key and root token are reproduced below in case you
want to seal/unseal the Vault or play with authentication.

Unseal Key 1: +V7oGQ/q3lHGgWoVjRgKxS0OLUs9KZs8aDppOMWcYDFj
Unseal Key 2: ZlmQLgpPohGOAb7m1XUfikiHSneei+AFIwxyqmkNAq5H
Unseal Key 3: tHr08qqUd7GAtcfY+ynqo6+Go2vovj1wbdGIQtSWJ/r0

Root Token: root

Useful env vars:

==> Vault server started! Log data will stream in below:

Alrighty, let’s just export those variables and we can begin using our cluster!

$ export VAULT_TOKEN=root
$ export VAULT_ADDR=
$ export VAULT_CACERT=/tmp/vault-test-cluster-282710121/ca_cert.pem

Ok, let’s make sure vault is on the same page as us by checking its status.

$ vault status
Key             Value
---             -----
Seal Type       shamir
Initialized     true
Sealed          false
Total Shares    3
Threshold       3
Version         1.7.9
Storage Type    n/a
Cluster Name    vault-cluster-7a71b0b6
Cluster ID      75e763bc-78f1-9783-8cc4-505a5a5861d9
HA Enabled      true
HA Cluster
HA Mode         active
Active Since    2022-03-09T02:12:27.947440981Z

Looks good! We can now start testing whatever we need. In future posts, we’ll explore more of the cluster and play with some of the available vault secrets engines.

IP Address Discovery for LXD Machines

I’m currently working on a side project that uses LXD as the primary back-end hypervisor (more backends to come, looking at libcloud). It seems pretty well thought out and, so far, it’s been really nice to work with.

I did run into a snag however, but it’s not really a fault of LXD. I needed to be able to learn the IP address of a VM that doesn’t have the LXD-agent running. This is the case for any machine images not provided by Canonical’s upstream image servers. For example, Windows, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and any custom Linux distribution certainly will not have it available by default.

Doing some research, I discovered that the dnsmasq DHCP server has the ability to call external programs when creating new leases. This is perfect and should be easy enough to implement. Here’s snippet from the dnsmasq man page:

--dhcp-script=<path> Whenever a new DHCP lease is created, or an old one destroyed, or a TFTP file transfer completes, the executable specified by this option is run. <path> must be an absolute pathname, no PATH search occurs. The arguments to the process are "add", "old" or "del", the MAC address of the host (or DUID for IPv6) , the IP address, and the hostname, if known.

So, we need some sort of middleware that I could push new leases to when they’re created by dnsmasq. Since I already had a redis server running handling celery tasks, I decided to just use that.

Great, let’s whip up a python script for dnsmasq to call out to and update redis.

#!/usr/bin/env python3
# /usr/local/bin/

import sys
import redis

if len(sys.argv) < 4:
op = sys.argv[1]
mac = sys.argv[2]
ip = sys.argv[3]
# hostname = sys.argv[4]  # Not interested at this time.

RHOST = ''
RPORT = 6379
RDB = 0

r = redis.Redis(host=RHOST, port=RPORT, db=RDB)
if 'add' in op:
    r.set(mac, ip)

if 'del' in op:

Certainly some room for improvement in the script above, but it gets the point across. If it’s not apparent, we’re using the MAC address as the redis key, and the IP as it’s value. Now, configure dnsmasq to point at the script and restart it to pick up the changes.

# echo "dhcp-script=/usr/local/bin/" >> /etc/dnsmasq.conf
# systemctl restart dnsmasq

Awesome, we’re good to go! The last thing I had to do is just update my code to pull the KEY:VALUE pair out of redis. If you’re curious to see what that might look like, here’s the (poorly-coded) function I used. Note, I’m using the python LXD library (pylxd) and getting the MAC address from LXD directly.

def get_mach_ip(mach):
    retries = 60
    sleep_time = 5
    hwaddr = None
    while retries > 0:
        retries -= 1
        r = redis.Redis(host=app.config['REDIS_HOST'],
            hwaddr = mach.config['volatile.eth0.hwaddr']
            cip = r.get(hwaddr).decode('utf-8') if hwaddr else None
            return cip if cip
        except Exception:
  'Waiting on IP for ether {hwaddr}')
    return None

That’s pretty much it!