Preload ISO

A common use case in Studio is the creation of hard drive images for preloading systems. This is great for setting up a computer lab or a server farm, where you want all systems to have the same software and configuration. It is also a step that system hardware vendors (OEMs/IHVs) often include in their production process.

SUSE Studio makes the creation of these images easy, but it’s a bit tricky to get them onto your target system. One way is to use a boot disk, like a Live CD/DVD or Live USB stick, and then dd the image to the target hard drive. This can be largely automated with a smart boot image that can, with a bit of scripting and setup, automatically load the image from a server via the network and write it to the target drive (eg. dd over netcat). Unfortunately this does not work in networkless environments and may not be worth the effort if applied to only a couple of systems.

For such cases we have added the new Preload ISO build format to facilitate this process. A preload ISO is simply a Live CD/DVD that contains the preload hard disk image. When booted, it overwrites the target disk (after user confirmation), verifies the checksum, then boots directly into the freshly loaded system. A word of warning - this format is meant for preloading and hence will overwrite all data on the target drive. Do not use this on your system unless you want to perform a clean installation! It is currently available for all base systems except SLE10.

Here’s how it looks like in Testdrive. Choose the “Install/Restore” option when booting:

Grub screen of Preload ISO

There is a confirmation prompt before it overwrites the target drive:

Write confirmation dialog of Preload ISO

If you have more than one disk available, you can choose from the list:

Disk choice dialog of Preload ISO

We think this will be a very useful format for system admins, ISVs/IHVs, and other users that require preloading. To those who have been asking for this in Studio: We’ve heard you, and now it’s here!