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16 Creating System Images

When it comes to installing Guix System for the first time on a new machine, you can basically proceed in three different ways. The first one is to use an existing operating system on the machine to run the guix system init command (see Invoking guix system). The second one, is to produce an installation image (see Building the Installation Image). This is a bootable system which role is to eventually run guix system init. Finally, the third option would be to produce an image that is a direct instantiation of the system you wish to run. That image can then be copied on a bootable device such as an USB drive or a memory card. The target machine would then directly boot from it, without any kind of installation procedure.

The guix system image command is able to turn an operating system definition into a bootable image. This command supports different image types, such as mbr-hybrid-raw, iso9660 and docker. Any modern x86_64 machine will probably be able to boot from an iso9660 image. However, there are a few machines out there that require specific image types. Those machines, in general using ARM processors, may expect specific partitions at specific offsets.

This chapter explains how to define customized system images and how to turn them into actual bootable images.