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Tiny OpenVZ template


August 15 2011

One issue I have had with OpenVZ is that there is not a small template based on Busybox out there. So, in the spirit of open source, I solved this problem by making my own tiny OpenVZ template based on Busybox and uClibc.

TinyVZ is a tiny OpenVZ template. This allows OpenVZ users to have a container that uses far fewer resources than container built from a traditional Linux distribution. The goals are to have a system that uses less memory and disk space than other OpenVZ templates.

This OpenVZ template is fully GPL compliant. Not only does it include the source code, but I spent all weekend burning the midnight oil to make the system self-hosting: It is possible to compile every program that makes up the system inside of the container. I even have a script that will (given enough time) compile all of the bits and clone the entire TinyVZ tree in a subdirectory.

The system includes the following packages:

  • binutils
  • busybox
  • gcc
  • make
  • maradns
  • uClibc
This Linux distribution is based on some work I did back in 2007 making a miniature Linux system that fits on a business card CD. Since this is based on work from a few years ago, the programs and libraries are older releases (this is also why a lot of files refer to this system as "Moam CD"). Updating the system's toolchain is left as an exercise to the reader. Yes, I did check, and there does not appear to be any glaring security holes with this setup; and, yes, the version of uClibc is recent enough to support the changes made to daylight savings time in 2005.

This is a work in progress. Right now, the system is for hard core UNIX/Linux gurus: The only editor is a miniature version of vi included with Busybox (actually, I also compiled in Busybox's version of the "ed" editor, for those who feel vi pampers the user too much); all configuration is done by editing text files. While the system is a self-hosting OpenVZ template, it appears that the relevant OpenVZ shell scripts for setting up networking and other relevant configurations are not POSIX compliant, breaking in Busybox's /bin/sh. In addition, the compiler can only compile C programs, and can not compile C++ programs. Adding C++ support is also left as an exercise for the reader.

While the vzctl program can not make this container reset its IP or hostname, it is possible to edit the file /etc/ to have it use the IP assigned to it by OpenVZ:


hostname $HOSTNAME

mkdir /proc
mount /proc
mount /dev/pts

export PATH

ifconfig lo
ifconfig venet0 $IP
route add -net dev lo
route add -net dev venet0

# MaraDNS (Deadwood)
duende Deadwood
This script is one that I am using on a tiny little DNS "toaster" OpenVZ container. By getting rid of the entire compiler toolchain (all of /usr/lib, the binutils in /usr/bin, the header files in /usr/include and /usr/src, the gcc library in /lib, the source code in /build, etc.), I was able to get this container to use under two megabytes of space.

I am including a 40-megabyte tarball of this OpenVZ template. This may be used either as an OpenVZ template or as a chroot() environment. IMPORTANT Create a directory for exploding this tarball before opening it up:

        mkdir TinyVZ-0.5
        cd TinyVZ-0.5
        tar xvJf ../TinyVZ-0.5-self-hosting.tar.xz
        chroot . sh
It can be downloaded here:
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