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The Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Red Hat Insights teams invite you to try the public beta of the Image Builder hosted service, a part of the Insights application suite which is included with the RHEL subscription. 

The Image Builder service, which can be found in the left navigation of the Red Hat Hybrid Cloud Console beta, simplifies and streamlines the process of assembling your own customized RHEL operating system images with the latest content and security updates for all of your hybrid cloud environments.

Today, building or installing operating systems for deployment across your hybrid cloud environments can be slow, tedious, and error prone. Building and updating a server image for traditional virtualization platforms require different tools and risky modifications to make it work in public cloud environments. 

Additionally, building a physical server for a local data center or at the edge requires different configurations and workflows to achieve the desired outcome.  This puts a burden of technical knowledge and manual effort onto users responsible for defining a standard operating environment for their application workloads.

Image Builder helps remove the guesswork and provides a single, streamlined experience so that your RHEL system images are built in a consistent and supportable way, tailored to the environments in which they will run. No more guessing about which cloud or virtual guest agents need to be installed. Simply define your very own "gold" template package set and build for each target deployment environment.Figure 1.This initial release of the public beta of the Image Builder hosted service will default to building a minimal, recommended RHEL server image for Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. 

It can be further customized by selecting additional RHEL content to be included in the build.  Once the image is created you will need to copy it to your own account to incorporate into your deployment workflows. These images will include the option to auto register using your existing RHEL subscription to ensure it receives future updates, or you can choose to register later using your own automation.

The Roadmap for this hosted service includes the addition of features you may already be familiar with from the on-premises version of Image Builder available in RHEL today.  Upcoming releases are planned to  include support for:

  • VMware vSphere

  • Downloadable images and installation media for physical servers

  • Customized filesystem layouts

  • Support for image creation of multiple versions of RHEL, including 9.0, 8.5, 8.4, and 7.9

As you encounter issues with the beta service of Image Builder, or have ideas for feature enhancements, you can share them directly with the Image Builder product team using the Feedback tab pinned to the right side of the dashboard. Your direct feedback is valuable as we work towards General Availability and plan for future updates.Figure 2.In addition to this hosted service which requires no setup or infrastructure, RHEL Image Builder is available for installation in RHEL within your own on-premises environment if you prefer not to use a hosted service.  You can learn more in the RHEL documentation for Composing a Customized RHEL System Image.  

A helpful tutorial on the Red Hat Blog, Build RHEL images for Azure with Image Builder, explains how to configure your Azure account to share/upload your custom images.  Read this to understand how to use both the on-premise and hosted service versions of Image Builder.  Keep watching for additional new features and tutorial blog posts coming soon!

To get started, log into the beta version of the Red Hat Hybrid Cloud Console using your Red Hat account - or register for an account - and click on Image Builder in the left navigation. The process is designed to be intuitive, and documentation is provided throughout. We hope you enjoy using our new RHEL Image Builder service!


About the author

Terry Bowling is responsible for the Automation & Management experience of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which includes RHEL System Roles (Ansible), RHEL Image Builder, RHEL Web Console (Cockpit), and more to make RHEL easier to deploy and manage.

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