Install custom Operating Systems on

OVH has a budget offering called So you start. If you want to install an operating system, that is not covered by the automatic installation, or want to encrypt your server, or install Linux with ZFS on root, you can’t use the provided installation mechanism. You can order a KVM over IP for additional costs to do the installation, or you can follow the following steps, to run the installation under Qemu/KVM. I took them from this forum entry, if you want to know more about it then click to read more:

#to see if Raid devices are present and stop them
cat /proc/mdstat
mdadm --stop /dev/md0
mdadm --stop /dev/md1

#Second step is to get rid of the network drives, because they are read-only
mount -t tmpfs -o size=6000m tmpfs /mnt # use 6GB of memory as temp - adjust as needed
mkdir /mnt/var
mkdir /mnt/var/cache
mkdir /mnt/var/lib
mkdir /mnt/var/run
mkdir /mnt/usr
mkdir /mnt/lib
rsync -a /var/cache/ /mnt/var/cache/
rsync -a /var/lib/ /mnt/var/lib/
rsync -a /var/run/ /mnt/var/run/
rsync -a /usr/ /mnt/usr/
rsync -a /lib/ /mnt/lib/
mount -B /mnt/var/cache /var/cache
mount -B /mnt/var/lib /var/lib
mount -B /mnt/var/run /var/run
mount -B /mnt/usr /usr

#Update your system
apt-get -y update
apt-get -y --force-yes upgrade

#Install qemu + kvm
apt-get -y install qemu kvm

Now that we have kvm installed, we can get for example an Ubuntu 14.04 Image and do the installation from there.


Now we start kvm with vnc support and do the installation from there:

qemu-system-x86_64 -net nic -net user,hostfwd=tcp::80-:80 -m 2047M -alt-grab -localtime -enable-kvm -cpu kvm64,+nx -smp 2 -usbdevice tablet -k en-us -cdrom ubuntu-14.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso -hda /dev/sda -hdb /dev/sdb -vnc

The VNC Server will listen on localhost only, so that no one else can access it. You need to tunnel yourself with SSH through.

This is also helpful to start your server under KVM, to fix any boot issues you might have.



6 replies on “Install custom Operating Systems on”

Thanks a lot for this simplified tutorial on installing your own ISO on a SoYouStart server!

I just would like to add for anybody else that has gone through the same pain as me:

If you have already an OS installed on your server, you will need to wipe out your hard drives. I found the useful information on the thread that this tutorial is based on.

#CAREFULL Wipe hard disks, so that you can start your OS installation, remove “#” to execute
#dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M count=1
#dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=1M count=1

Also, for anyone trying to figure out how to use the vnc, I used:
vncviewer -geometry 1024×768 -via root@myIPaddress localhost:0

Cheers 😉

If you are using a third disk, you will need to tweak the last command in the tut.


add hdc as /dev/sdc

qemu-system-x86_64 -net nic -net user,hostfwd=tcp::80-:80 -m 2047M -alt-grab -localtime -enable-kvm -cpu kvm64,+nx -smp 2 -usbdevice tablet -k en-us -cdrom ubuntu-14.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso -hda /dev/sda -hdb /dev/sdb -hdc /dev/sdc -vnc

Hope it helps

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