The data source NoCloud is a flexible datasource that can be used in multiple different ways. With NoCloud, the user can provide user data and metadata to the instance without running a network service (or even without having a network at all). Alternatively, one may use a custom webserver to provide configurations.

Configuration Methods:#

Method 1: Local filesystem, labeled filesystem#

To provide cloud-init configurations from the local filesystem, a labeled vfat or iso9660 filesystem containing user data and metadata may be used. For this method to work, the filesystem volume must be labelled CIDATA.

Method 2: Local filesystem, kernel commandline or SMBIOS#

Configuration files can be provided on the local filesystem without a label using kernel commandline arguments or SMBIOS serial number to tell cloud-init where on the filesystem to look.

Alternatively, one can provide metadata via the kernel command line or SMBIOS “serial number” option. This argument might look like:


Method 3: Custom webserver: kernel commandline or SMBIOS#

In a similar fashion, configuration files can be provided to cloud-init using a custom webserver at a URL dictated by kernel commandline arguments or SMBIOS serial number. This argument might look like:



When supplementing kernel parameters in GRUB’s boot menu take care to single-quote this full value to avoid GRUB interpreting the semi-colon as a reserved word. See: GRUB quoting

Permitted keys#

The permitted keys are:

  • h or local-hostname

  • i or instance-id

  • s or seedfrom

A valid seedfrom value consists of:


A filesystem path starting with / or file:// that points to a directory containing files: user-data, meta-data, and (optionally) vendor-data (a trailing / is required)

HTTP server#

An http or https URL (a trailing / is required)

File formats#

These user data and metadata files are required as separate files at the same base URL:


Both files must be present for it to be considered a valid seed ISO.

The user-data file uses user data format and meta-data is a YAML-formatted file representing what you’d find in the EC2 metadata service.

You may also optionally provide a vendor data file adhering to user data formats at the same base URL:


DMI-specific kernel commandline#

Cloud-init performs variable expansion of the seedfrom URL for any DMI kernel variables present in /sys/class/dmi/id (kenv on FreeBSD). Your seedfrom URL can contain variable names of the format __dmi.varname__ to indicate to the cloud-init NoCloud datasource that dmi.varname should be expanded to the value of the DMI system attribute wanted.

Available DMI variables for expansion in seedfrom URL#
















For example, you can pass this option to QEMU:

-smbios type=1,serial=ds=nocloud;s=

This will cause NoCloud to fetch the full metadata from a URL based on YOUR_SERIAL_NUMBER as seen in /sys/class/dmi/id/chassis_serial_number (kenv on FreeBSD) from after the network initialisation is complete.

Example: Creating a disk#

Given a disk Ubuntu cloud image in disk.img, you can create a sufficient disk by following the following example.

  1. Create the user-data and meta-data files that will be used to modify the image on first boot.

$ echo -e "instance-id: iid-local01\nlocal-hostname: cloudimg" > meta-data
$ echo -e "#cloud-config\npassword: passw0rd\nchpasswd: { expire: False }\nssh_pwauth: True\ncreate_hostname_file: true\n" > user-data
  1. At this stage you have three options:

    1. Create a disk to attach with some user data and metadata:

      $ genisoimage  -output seed.iso -volid cidata -joliet -rock user-data meta-data
    2. Alternatively, create a vfat filesystem with the same files:

      $ truncate --size 2M seed.iso
      $ mkfs.vfat -n cidata seed.iso
      • 2b) Option 1: mount and copy files:

        $ sudo mount -t vfat seed.iso /mnt
        $ sudo cp user-data meta-data /mnt
        $ sudo umount /mnt
      • 2b) Option 2: the mtools package provides mcopy, which can access vfat filesystems without mounting them:

        $ mcopy -oi seed.iso user-data meta-data ::
  2. Create a new qcow image to boot, backed by your original image:

$ qemu-img create -f qcow2 -b disk.img -F qcow2 boot-disk.img
  1. Boot the image and log in as “Ubuntu” with password “passw0rd”:

$ kvm -m 256 \
   -net nic -net user,hostfwd=tcp::2222-:22 \
   -drive file=boot-disk.img,if=virtio \
   -drive driver=raw,file=seed.iso,if=virtio


Note that “passw0rd” was set as password through the user data above. There is no password set on these images.


The instance-id provided (iid-local01 above) is what is used to determine if this is “first boot”. So, if you are making updates to user data you will also have to change the instance-id, or start the disk fresh.

Also, you can inject an /etc/network/interfaces file by providing the content for that file in the network-interfaces field of meta-data.

Example meta-data#

instance-id: iid-abcdefg
network-interfaces: |
  iface eth0 inet static
hostname: myhost

Network configuration can also be provided to cloud-init in either Networking config Version 1 or Networking config Version 2 by providing that YAML formatted data in a file named network-config. If found, this file will override a network-interfaces file.

See an example below. Note specifically that this file does not have a top level network key as it is already assumed to be network configuration based on the filename.

Example config#

version: 1
   - type: physical
     name: interface0
     mac_address: "52:54:00:12:34:00"
        - type: static
version: 2
      macaddress: "52:54:00:12:34:00"
    set-name: interface0