Getting started with Packer

Packer lets you create virtual machine images from configuration files called templates. Below, we describe how to create a disk image using Packer.

In this scenario, Packer will create and launch a virtual machine with Debian 9 and nginx web server. Then, it will delete the VM and create an image of its boot disk. After that, the disk will also be deleted.

To create an image:

  1. Install Packer
  2. Prepare the template
  3. Create the image
  4. Check the image

Before you start

  1. Install the Yandex.Cloud command line interface.
  2. Create a cloud network with one subnet in your folder.
  3. Get an OAuth token.

1. Install Packer


Yandex.Cloud requires Packer 1.4.1 or higher.

Download and install Packer by following the instructions on the official website.

2. Prepare the template

  1. Get the folder ID by running the yc config list command.
  2. Get the subnet ID by running the yc vpc subnet list command.
  3. Create a JSON file with any name, like image.json. This will be your template. Enter the following parameters:
  "builders": [
      "type":      "yandex",
      "token":     "<OAuth token>",
      "folder_id": "<folder ID>",
      "zone":      "ru-central1-a",

      "image_name":        "debian-9-nginx-{{isotime | clean_image_name}}",
      "image_family":      "debian-web-server",
      "image_description": "my custom debian with nginx",

      "source_image_family": "debian-9",
      "subnet_id":           "<subnet ID>",
      "use_ipv4_nat":        true,
      "disk_type":           "network-ssd",
      "ssh_username":        "debian"
  "provisioners": [
      "type": "shell",
      "inline": [
        "echo 'updating APT'",
        "sudo apt-get update -y",
        "sudo apt-get install -y nginx",
        "sudo su -",
        "sudo systemctl enable nginx.service",
        "curl localhost"

3. Create the image

Build the image using the template:

$ packer build image.json

4. Check the image

Make sure the image was created:

  1. Go to the management console.
  2. Open Compute Cloud.
  3. Open Images. Check if the new disk image is there.