User Defined Scripts



This chapter describes the usage of the user defined scripts and, which can be used to further customize an image in ways that are not possible via the image description alone.

KIWI supports up to two user defined scripts that it runs in the change root environment (chroot) containing your new appliance:

  1. runs the end of the prepare step if present. It can be used to fine tune the unpacked image.

  2. is executed at the beginning of the image creation process. It is run on the top level of the target root tree. The script is usually used to remove files that are not needed in the final image. For example, if an appliance is being built for a specific hardware, unnecessary kernel drivers can be removed using this script.

KIWI will execute both scripts via the operating system if their executable bit is set (in that case a shebang is mandatory) otherwise they will be invoked via the BASH.

Image Customization via the Shell Script

The KIWI image description allows to have an script in place. It can be used for changes appropriate for all images to be created from a given unpacked image ( runs prior to the create step). The script should add operating system configuration files which would be otherwise added by a user driven installer, like the activation of services, creation of configuration files, preparation of an environment for a firstboot workflow, etc.

The script is called at the end of the prepare step (after users have been set and the overlay tree directory has been applied). If exits with a non-zero exit code then KIWI will report the failure and abort the image creation.

Find a common template for script below:

# Include functions & variables
test -f /.kconfig && . /.kconfig
test -f /.profile && . /.profile

# Greeting...
echo "Configure image: [$kiwi_iname]..."

# Call configuration code/functions

Configuration Tips

  1. Stateless systemd UUIDs:

Machine ID files are created and set (/etc/machine-id, /var/lib/dbus/machine-id) during the image package installation when systemd and/or dbus are installed. Those UUIDs are intended to be unique and set only once in each deployment. KIWI follows the systemd recommendations and wipes any /etc/machine-id content, leaving it as an empty file. Note, this only applies to images based on a dracut initrd, it does not apply for container images.

In case this setting is also required for a non dracut based image, the same result can achieved by removing /etc/machine-id in


Avoid interactive boot

It is important to remark that the file /etc/machine-id is set to an empty file instead of deleting it. systemd may trigger systemd-firstboot service if this file is not present, which leads to an interactive firstboot where the user is asked to provide some data.


Avoid inconsistent /var/lib/dbus/machine-id

Note that /etc/machine-id and /var/lib/dbus/machine-id must contain the same unique ID. On modern systems /var/lib/dbus/machine-id is already a symlink to /etc/machine-id. However on older systems those might be two different files. This is the case for SLE-12 based images. If you are targeting these older operating systems, it is recommended to add the symlink creation into

# Make machine-id consistent with dbus
if [ -e /var/lib/dbus/machine-id ]; then
    rm /var/lib/dbus/machine-id
ln -s /etc/machine-id /var/lib/dbus/machine-id

Image Customization via the Shell Script

The KIWI image description allows to have an optional bash script in place. It can be used for changes appropriate for certain images/image types on a case-by-case basis (since it runs at beginning of create step).


Modifications of the unpacked root tree

Keep in mind that there is only one unpacked root tree the script operates in. This means that all changes are permanent and will not be automatically restored!

The script should be designed to take over control of handling image type specific tasks. For example, if building the OEM type requires some additional packages or configurations then that can be handled in Additionally, the script authors tasks is to check if changes performed beforehand do not interfere in a negative way if another image type is created from the same unpacked image root tree.

If exits with a non-zero exit code, then KIWI will report an error and abort the image creation.

See below a common template for script:

# Include functions & variables
test -f /.kconfig && . /.kconfig
test -f /.profile && . /.profile

# Greeting...
echo "Configure image: [$kiwi_iname]..."

# Call configuration code/functions

# Exit successfully
exit 0

Functions and Variables Provided by KIWI

KIWI creates the .kconfig and .profile files to be sourced by the shell scripts and .kconfig contains various helper functions which can be used to simplify the image configuration and .profile contains environment variables which get populated from the settings provided in the image description.

Provided Functions

The .kconfig file provides a common set of functions. Functions specific to SUSE Linux begin with the name suse, functions applicable to all Linux distributions start with the name base.

The following list describes all functions provided by .kconfig:


Unmount the filesystems /proc, /dev/pts, /sys and /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc.


Return the name(s) of the packages marked for deletion in the image description.


Return the name(s) of profiles used to build this image.

baseSetRunlevel {value}

Set the default run level.


Search all home directories of all users listed in /etc/passwd and change the ownership of all files to belong to the correct user and group.

baseStripAndKeep {list of info-files to keep}

Helper function for the baseStrip* functions, reads the list of files to check from stdin for removing params: files which should be kept

baseStripDocs {list of docu names to keep}

Remove all documentation files, except for the ones given as the parameter.

baseStripInfos {list of info-files to keep}

Remove all info files, except for the one given as the parameter.

baseStripLocales {list of locales}

Remove all locales, except for the ones given as the parameter.

baseStripTranslations {list of translations}

Remove all translations, except for the ones given as the parameter.

baseStripMans {list of manpages to keep}

Remove all manual pages, except for the ones given as the parameter.


baseStripMans more less

Add the SUSE build keys to the RPM database.


Remove libraries which are not directly linked against applications in the bin directories.

baseUpdateSysConfig {filename} {variable} {value}

Update the contents of a sysconfig variable


This function is deprecated and is a NOP.

baseSystemdServiceInstalled {service}

Prints the path of the first found systemd unit or mount with name passed as the first parameter.

baseSysVServiceInstalled {service}

Prints the name ${service} if a SysV init service with that name is found, otherwise it prints nothing.

baseSystemdCall {service_name} {args}

Calls systemctl ${args} ${service_name} if a systemd unit, a systemd mount or a SysV init service with the ${service_name} exist.

baseInsertService {servicename}

Activate the given service via systemctl.

baseRemoveService {servicename}

Deactivate the given service via systemctl.

baseService {servicename} {on|off}

Activate or deactivate a service via systemctl. The function requires the service name and the value on or off as parameters.

Example to enable the sshd service on boot:

baseService sshd on
suseInsertService {servicename}

Calls baseInsertService and exists only for compatibility reasons.

suseRemoveService {servicename}

Calls baseRemoveService and exists only for compatibility reasons.

suseService {servicename} {on|off}

Calls baseService and exists only for compatibility reasons.


Activates the network and cron services to run at boot.


Creates the /etc/products.d/baseproduct link pointing to the product referenced by either /etc/SuSE-brand or /etc/os-release or the latest prod file available in /etc/products.d


Uses zypper to search for the installed product and installs all product specific packages. This function fails when zypper is not the appliances package manager.

Debug {message}

Helper function to print the supplied message if the variable DEBUG is set to 1.

Echo {echo commandline}

Helper function to print a message to the controlling terminal.

Rm {list of files}

Helper function to delete files and log the deletion.

Rpm {rpm commandline}

Helper function for calling rpm: forwards all commandline arguments to rpm and logs the call.

Functions for Custom non-dracut Based Boot

KIWI also provides the following functions (mostly for compatibility reasons) which can be used to customize the boot process when using the custom boot option (see Customizing the Boot Process):


Removes various tools binaries and libraries which are not required to boot a SUSE system with KIWI. This function is not required when using the dracut initrd system and is kept for compatibility reasons.


Check all kernel modules if they require a firmware and strip out all firmware files which are not referenced by a kernel module


Search for updated modules and remove the old version which might be provided by the standard kernel


Strips the kernel:

  1. create the vmlinux.gz and vmlinuz files which are used as a fallback for the kernel extraction

  2. handle <strip type="delete"> requests. Because this information is generic not only files of the kernel are affected but also other data which are unwanted get deleted here

  3. only keep kernel modules matching the <drivers> patterns from the kiwi boot image description

  4. lookup kernel module dependencies and bring back modules which were removed but still required by other modules that were kept in the system

  5. search for duplicate kernel modules due to kernel module updates and keep only the latest version

  6. search for kernel firmware files and keep only those for which a kernel driver is still present in the system


Removes all kernel drivers which are not listed in the drivers sections of config.xml.

baseStripTools {list of toolpath} {list of tools}

Helper function for suseStripInitrd function parameters: toolpath, tools.

Profile Environment Variables

The .profile environment file is created by KIWI and contains a specific set of variables which are listed below.


The value of the compressed attribute set in the type element in config.xml.


A list of all packages which are children of the packages element with type="delete" in config.xml.


A comma separated list of the driver entries as listed in the drivers section of the config.xml.


The name of the image as listed in config.xml.


The image version as a string.


The contents of the keytable setup as done in config.xml.


The contents of the locale setup as done in config.xml.


A comma separated list of profiles used to build this image.


The contents of the timezone setup as done in config.xml.


The image type as extracted from the type element in config.xml.