Whole Disk Image Support


This spec proposes to add a feature of deploying whole disk images to Ironic.

Problem description

Currently, the Ironic PXE deploy driver and the iLO deploy driver deploys only partition images making an Image kernel/ramdisk to be mandatory. The current approach makes it impossible to deploy Images that are not capable of providing a corresponding kernel/ramdisk. A significantly important use-case would be to deploy Windows Images on baremetal systems.

Proposed change

Ironic’s deploy drivers will infer if they have to deploy a whole disk image or a partition image based on the presence of a kernel/ramdisk by querying Glance’s properties.

To utilise the scheduler efficiently, Ironic deployments of whole disk images will only accept a root-only flavor to efficiently utilise the entire disk. Any other flavor type would be rejected during the validation phase in Ironic. To help the scheduler fail fast, a new filter will be added to the scheduler which will compare the image structure with the flavor attributes to check if it can proceed with scheduling.

For the PXE Deploy driver, once the image structure is inferred and is found out to be a whole disk image, the image is dumped onto the disk-lun and the node is restarted with a pxe config file that instructs the server to boot from the local disk(PXE-localboot).

The agent driver currently only supports deploying whole disk images, however, the agent driver will adopt the inference pattern stated above to deploy whole disk images.

The iLO virtual media iscsi deploy driver needs to be validated to deploy whole disk images which will use the same mechanism the pxe driver uses to write whole disk images.


Having an optional is_whole_disk_image property explicitly for a Glance image and using that value to figure out if the deploy driver should deploy a whole disk image or not.

It was suggested that one could assume image type(i.e part or disk) based on the image format. So, AMI for Partition images, QCOW2, RAW, etc for Disk Images. This does not seem appropriate as the other image formats could also very well be used as a Partition image with a certain Kernel/Ramdisk.

Data model impact


REST API impact


RPC API impact


Driver API impact


Nova driver impact

A separate Ironic-only Nova filter will be added which will validate flavor attributes against image structure.

Security impact


Other end user impact


Scalability impact


Performance Impact


Other deployer impact

For those using disk-image-builder to build images, currently, the vm element should help in building of whole-disk-images.

Developer impact

The other deploy drivers need to keep in mind of the pattern being used currently to infer deployment of whole disk images while writing their own logic for the same feature.



Primary assignee:


Work Items

Modify PXE Deploy Driver to support deploying of whole disk images.

Modify Agent Deploy Driver to use the whole-disk-image inference pattern since it already supports deploying of whole-disk-images by default.

Modify iLO virtual media Deploy Driver to support deploying of whole disk images.

Add a Nova filter to validate image structure against flavor attributes.




Tempest tests need to be added to validate deployment of Disk Images.

The Cirros whole disk image will be used to test the deployment of whole disk images in Ironic.

Upgrades and Backwards Compatibility


Documentation Impact

Add user-facing docs to explain how whole disk images should be deployed via Ironic.