Boot Assets

Creating customized Talos boot assets, disk images, ISO and installer images.

Talos Linux provides a set of pre-built images on the release page, but these images can be customized further for a specific use case:

A custom disk image, boot asset can be generated by using the Talos Linux imager container: The imager container image can be checked by verifying its signature.

The generation process can be run with a simple docker run command:

docker run --rm -t -v $PWD/_out:/secureboot:ro -v $PWD/_out:/out -v /dev:/dev --privileged <image-kind> [optional: customization]

A quick guide to the flags used for docker run:

  • --rm flag removes the container after the run (as it’s not going to be used anymore)
  • -t attaches a terminal for colorized output, it can be removed if used in scripts
  • -v $PWD/_out:/secureboot:ro mounts the SecureBoot keys into the container (can be skipped if not generating SecureBoot image)
  • -v $PWD/_out:/out mounts the output directory (where the generated image will be placed) into the container
  • -v /dev:/dev --privileged is required to generate disk images (loop devices are used), but not required for ISOs, installer container images

The <image-kind> argument to the imager defines the base profile to be used for the image generation. There are several built-in profiles:

  • iso builds a Talos ISO image (see ISO)
  • secureboot-iso builds a Talos ISO image with SecureBoot (see SecureBoot)
  • metal builds a generic disk image for bare-metal machines
  • secureboot-metal builds a generic disk image for bare-metal machines with SecureBoot
  • secureboot-installer builds an installer container image with SecureBoot (see SecureBoot)
  • aws, gcp, azure, etc. builds a disk image for a specific Talos platform

The base profile can be customized with the additional flags to the imager:

  • --arch specifies the architecture of the image to be generated (default: host architecture)
  • --meta allows to set initial META values
  • --extra-kernel-arg allows to customize the kernel command line arguments
  • --system-extension-image allows to install a system extension into the image

Example: Bare-metal

Let’s assume we want to boot Talos on a bare-metal machine with Intel CPU and add a gvisor container runtime to the image. Also we want to disable predictable network interface names with net.ifnames=0 kernel argument.

First, let’s lookup extension images for Intel CPU microcode updates and gvisor container runtime in the extensions repository:

Now we can generate the ISO image with the following command:

$ docker run --rm -t -v $PWD/_out:/out iso --system-extension-image --system-extension-image --extra-kernel-arg net.ifnames=0
profile ready:
arch: amd64
platform: metal
secureboot: false
version: v1.5.0-alpha.3-35-ge0f383598-dirty
    - net.ifnames=0
    path: /usr/install/amd64/vmlinuz
    path: /usr/install/amd64/initramfs.xz
    - imageRef:
    - imageRef:
  kind: iso
  outFormat: raw
initramfs ready
kernel command line: talos.platform=metal console=ttyS0 console=tty0 init_on_alloc=1 slab_nomerge pti=on consoleblank=0 nvme_core.io_timeout=4294967295 printk.devkmsg=on ima_template=ima-ng ima_appraise=fix ima_hash=sha512 net.ifnames=0
ISO ready
output asset path: /out/metal-amd64.iso

Now the _out/metal-amd64.iso contains the customized Talos ISO image.

If the machine is going to be booted using PXE, we can instead generate kernel and initramfs images:

docker run --rm -t -v $PWD/_out:/out iso --output-kind kernel
docker run --rm -t -v $PWD/_out:/out iso --output-kind initramfs --system-extension-image --system-extension-image

Now the _out/kernel-amd64 and _out/initramfs-amd64 contain the customized Talos kernel and initramfs images.

Note: the extra kernel args are not used now, as they are set via the PXE boot process, and can’t be embedded into the kernel or initramfs.

As the next step, we should generate a custom installer image which contains all required system extensions (kernel args can’t be specified with the installer image, but they are set in the machine configuration):

$ docker run --rm -t -v $PWD/_out:/out installer --system-extension-image --system-extension-image
output asset path: /out/metal-amd64-installer.tar

The installer container image should be pushed to the container registry:

crane push _out/metal-amd64-installer.tar<username></username>/installer:v1.5.0

Now we can use the customized installer image to install Talos on the bare-metal machine.

When it’s time to upgrade a machine, a new installer image can be generated using the new version of imager, and updating the system extension images to the matching versions. The custom installer image can now be used to upgrade Talos machine.

Example: AWS

Talos is installed on AWS from a disk image (AWS AMI), so only a single boot asset is required.

Let’s assume we want to boot Talos on AWS with gvisor container runtime system extension.

First, let’s lookup extension images for the gvisor container runtime in the extensions repository:

Next, let’s generate AWS disk image with that system extension:

$ docker run --rm -t -v $PWD/_out:/out -v /dev:/dev --privileged aws --system-extension-image
output asset path: /out/aws-amd64.raw
compression done: /out/aws-amd64.raw.xz

Now the _out/aws-amd64.raw.xz contains the customized Talos AWS disk image which can be uploaded as an AMI to the AWS.

If the AWS machine is later going to be upgraded to a new version of Talos (or a new set of system extensions), generate a customized installer image following the steps above, and upgrade Talos to that installer image.