Recently I had an opportunity to mess around with Google Compute Engine and noticed a distinct lack of presence of my beloved Fedora OS. A quick searching turned up this how-to, that while OK, was slightly outdated (insofar as the options didn’t work exactly as is). So, I’ve decided to record the exact steps I took to get a fully-functioning Fedora 25 image on GCE.


  1. A Google Account
  2. A Google Cloud Platform Project-ID
  3. A Linux machine (preferably local Fedora 25) to install google-cloud-sdk
  4. Expected programs: sfdisk, wget, xz, python, ssh, dnf


  1. Image prep:

    First we need to get the Fedora Cloud RAW image and convert it to be compatible with GCE. Make note of IMAGE_NAME and BUCKET_NAME, you may need to change those and we will be using those going forward (If you set it once and use the same shell for everything you’re fine):

    wget -O - "${IMAGE_NAME}.raw.xz" \
        | xz -cd - > disk.raw

    Now that we have a disk.raw (the file name GCE expects inside the .tar.gz) we also need to temporarily mount it, upgrade cloud-init, and enable the GCE cloud-init datasource. Fedora-Cloud-Base-25 comes with cloud-init pre-installed, but no datasources are enabled by default. This is simply the best way I could find to configure that before uploading the image:

    # Get /dev/sda1 parition offset:
    OFFSET=$( sfdisk -J disk.raw | python -c 'import sys, json; a=json.load(sys.stdin); print(a["partitiontable"]["partitions"][0]["start"]*512)' | tee /dev/tty )
    # Either become root and paste these line-by-line or the whole block at once
    sudo OFFSET="$OFFSET" sh -c '\
    # Make mounting directory
    mkdir -p /mnt/disk
    # Mount the image and prepare the chroot
    mount -o offset=$OFFSET disk.raw /mnt/disk
    mount -t proc /proc /mnt/disk/proc
    mount --rbind /sys /mnt/disk/sys
    mount --make-rslave /mnt/disk/sys
    mount --rbind /dev /mnt/disk/dev
    mount --make-rslave /mnt/disk/dev'

    Alternatively: Consider using my steps here on mounting virtual machine disk images. Though it will certainly work, this was not needed here because we’re dealing with a RAW image instead of VDI, VMDK, or QCOW2. (i.e. just use guestmount for just mounting, and virt-rescue for a minimal virtual host. They are both from libguestfs-tools)

    Now that the image is mounted, we need to add to the clout-init cloud.cfg.d in order to enable the GCE datasource:

    sudo tee /mnt/disk/etc/cloud/cloud.cfg.d/GCE.cfg <<EOF
    datasource_list: [ 'GCE' ]
    datasource: { GCE: {} }

    This enables the GCE datasource for cloud-init. Without this, the imagine will hang during boot and fail on loading the metadata information, and then when SSH finally does come up you won’t be able to login because no SSH keys will have been inserted.

    There is a bug presently in Fedora 25 stable’s version of cloud-init, which is at 0.7.8 - this version based on my findings was completely incompatible with modern GCE and I couldn’t get it to work. Thus, we must upgrade cloud-inits package as well (Upgrade everything else later as to not bloat the image). The current version in Fedora 25 as of this writing is 0.7.9 which is just recent enough to include the fix:

    sudo chroot /mnt/disk dnf -yq --enablerepo=updates-testing upgrade cloud-init

    Optional: Now to install the google-compute-engine and associated packages. This is not mandatory, but the Google Cloud Platform console won’t be able to SSH in and other functionality will be missing. Copy paste the following and hit enter:

    sudo tee /mnt/disk/etc/yum.repos.d/google-cloud.repo << EOF
    name=Google Cloud Compute
    sudo chroot /mnt/disk dnf install -yq google-compute-engine google-compute-engine-init google-config
    sudo chroot /mnt/disk dnf clean all

    WARNING: Try to do as little as possible in the chroot because it will balloon the image size. Don’t do a full dnf upgrade yet.

    Pro tip: Try virt-sparsify disk.raw disk.raw.sparse && mv disk.raw.sparse disk.raw to save a little extra space.

    Finally, unmount and package up the disk.raw image into a compatible .tar.gz file:

    sudo umount -AR /mnt/disk
    tar caf "${IMAGE_NAME}.tar.gz" disk.raw
  2. Now that the image prep is done, we need to install the google-cloud-sdk from Google’s official repositories on our workstation:

    sudo tee /etc/yum.repos.d/google-cloud-sdk.repo << EOF
    name=Google Cloud SDK
    sudo dnf install -y google-cloud-sdk
  3. Now that the SDK is installed gcloud and gsutil commands are present. Next, we will authenticate with the Google Cloud Platform, then set the active project:

    gcloud auth login
    gcloud config set project my-project-id
  4. Then transfer and create the bucket and image:

    gsutil mb "gs://${BUCKET_NAME}" # OPTIONAL, could exist already
    gsutil cp "${IMAGE_NAME}.tar.gz" "gs://${BUCKET_NAME}/"

    Should output the following:

    | [1 files][170.6 MiB/170.6 MiB]    2.5 MiB/s
    Operation completed over 1 objects/170.6 MiB.
  5. Finally, register the image:

    # Sanitize the name of the image for GCE
    CLOUD_IMAGE="$(sed 's|[\._]|-|g;s|.*|\L&|' <<< "${IMAGE_NAME}")"
    echo -e "Cloud image name: $CLOUD_IMAGE\n"
    gcloud compute images create --source-uri "gs://${BUCKET_NAME}/${IMAGE_NAME}.tar.gz" "${CLOUD_IMAGE}"

    Should output something like:

    Cloud image name: fedora-cloud-base-25-1-3-x86-64
    Created [].
    NAME                             PROJECT         FAMILY  DEPRECATED  STATUS
    fedora-cloud-base-25-1-3-x86-64  my-project-id                        READY
  6. Configure your GCE SSH keys, either go here (console, use for ssh-agent users), or use key files setup by:

    gcloud compute config-ssh

    Which will make a new key, save it to ~/.ssh/google_compute_engine* and upload it for you. NOTE: If you want to use ssh-agent, then you must configure it through the web console manually. Hint: Get your public keys via ssh-add -L

  7. Now you’re ready to start creating new instances either via the commandline or the GUI console

    gcloud compute instances create fedora-25-test \
        --machine-type g1-small \
        --boot-disk-size 20GB \
        --image "${CLOUD_IMAGE}" \
        --zone us-east1-b

    Should output something like:

    Created [].
    fedora-25-test1  us-east1-b  g1-small           RUNNING
  8. SSH-Agent users:

    ssh fedora@

    gcloud compute config-ssh users:

    gcloud compute ssh fedora-25-test

    Note: If you installed the google-compute-engine packages, additional users will be created for each SSH key in your Google Cloud Platform Metadata.

    Hint: If this doesn’t work or you otherwise run into trouble, you can output the serial console log in the following manner:

    gcloud beta compute instances get-serial-port-output fedora-25-test

- Mike