The creators of VM automation tool Vagrant have released a helpful new virtualization tool.
Heads up, there’s a new virtualization tool on
the block, and it goes by the name of ‘Packer’. Coming from the
same stable as VM automation tool
Vagrant, this software creates machine
images for different platforms which can be created based on a
single configuration file. Moreover, Packer images are fully
provisioned and configured for VMs and can be launched just like
Image creation and management for specific
platforms is totally automated with Packer. So you can use the same
set of instructions to create images for AWS, Virtual Box or
Vagrant. There are also
configuration management tools like Chef and Puppet within the
tool, enabling you to install software into an image. The Machine
Image formats themselves vary from platform to platform, for
example AMIs for EC2 or VMDK / VMX files to VMware.
As Packer creates identical images for different
platforms, there’s a high degree of portability: from executing
important business stuff on AWS, to Staging / QA in private clouds
like OpenStack and development on a desktop virtualization solution
like VMware or VirtualBox – all manner of environments are supplied
with an identical machine image.
In principle, Packer creates images for any
platform. Support is available for Amazon EC2 (AMI), Digital
Ocean, Docker, Google Compute Engine, OpenStack, QEMU, VirtualBox
(OVF) and VMware (VMX). There’s a plug-in
mechanism to extend the software to other
Packer is developed on an open source basis under the
Mozilla Public License 2.0. The latest version 0.6.0 can be
downloaded from www.packer.io.
Development takes place on GitHub under https://github.com/mitchellh/packer.
In addition to the comprehensive documentation on www.packer.io, we
recommend delving into Florian Motlik’s article
Machines with Vagrant Packer“. For further
info, check out the video below, where Packer-inventor Mitchell
Hashimoto presents a personal overview of the project.