Installation on Debian

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This guide is written against Debian Etch (4.0). This release includes kernel linux-image-vserver-686, so no manual patching is needed. Hence, Installation on Debian Etch is pretty easy and straightforward.

If you need to compile your own kernel, you need to apply the vserver-version.patch. Details at 2007/Apr/25


Packages installation

The packages required by Linux-VServer are:

  • linux-image-vserver-686 - This is the actual kernel
  • util-vserver - These are the utilities used to administer the guests
  • ssh - This is probably already installed, but just in case it isn't

All the packages you need can be obtained via

apt-get install linux-image-vserver-686 util-vserver ssh

so run this as root and reboot. To check out wherever everything went fine you may run

uname -r

and check that kernel version is something like 2.6.18-4-vserver-686. That's it. Now let's create a virtual machine.

Note that the package vserver-debiantools may also be helpful, as it contains commands like newvserver which simplifies the creation of the vserver.

Guest system creation

To build guests, you use vserver [name] build. The syntax for this command is:

vserver [name] build -m debootstrap --hostname [hostname] \
--interface [interface]:[IP address]/[CIDR prefix or netmask] \
-- -d [dist] -m [Debian mirror]

(the backslashes at the end of the lines mean that it continues onto the next line. You may copy it as-is [with the backslashes], or put the whole command on one line [and exclude the backslashes], as is done below. Also, the -- separate the different parts of the command. First are generic vserver ... build options, the second part are options specific to the chosen method (debootstrap), the third part are options which will be passed directly to debootstrap.)

The command line arguments are:

  • name - The name of the guest
  • hostname - The hostname of the guest (eg. test1.domain.tld)
  • interface - Your network interface, if it's not eth0 (eg. eth1).
  • IP address- The IP address for the guest (eg.
  • CIDR prefix or netmask - The CIDR prefix for your local network. For a 10.x.x.x network, this is usually /8. For a 172.16.x.x network, this is usually /16. For a 192.168.x.x network, this is usually /24. If your network is subnetted, this will be different. When in doubt, use /32.
  • dist - The distribution to use. For the purposes of this exercise, we use etch.
  • Debian mirror - The Debian mirror you use (when in doubt, choose

So, let's make a test server. The settings for our test guest are like so:

vserver test1 build -m debootstrap --hostname \
--interface eth1: -- -d etch -m \
-- --resolve-deps --arch i386

For all options to vserver build, see

vserver - build --help

In particular, --rootdir gives the desired location of the vserver.

Guest system operation

To start guest just created, run

vserver test1 start

To get into it, type

vserver test1 enter

Again, study --help for more information.


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