We can have the full filesystem structure of any OS in a directory. To which we can chroot, so it will behave as good as native login.

Is there any way to install the an OS onto a partition with the help of chroot ?

e.g. I want to install Ubuntu-14.04 in my /home/SHW/Ubuntu-14.04 directory. Once installed, I can chroot into it and can do some user-space work

( Installing the OS onto a partition and mounting that at /home/SHW/Ubuntu-14.04 is not what I'm looking for)


Though I have mentioned Ubuntu in original question, but my target OS is developed by third party from scratch. As per the @mattdm, debootstrap is useful for ubuntu. But I need almost similar solution to install any OS

  • you do not need a full install to chroot. you can use virtual host, export / and mount it via nfs. – Archemar Sep 12 '14 at 12:43
  • on a second tough, try looking at xen. (I dont provide a full answer because I no longer have a xen to check what should be done). – Archemar Sep 12 '14 at 12:49
  • If you're looking for "an installer" that lets you install an OS into a directory without the concept of block devices/partitions, have a look at how gentoo or crux are installed. (substitute /mnt with your /home/SHW/gentoo directory in the instructions). Please note that in many situations your commands in the chroot will want access to /proc and other parts of the system. If you want ubuntu or something else, it is probably easier to just copy it with tar from an installation or running livecd. – MattBianco Sep 12 '14 at 13:37

Yes! This is what debootstap is for — at least in Debian-derived distributions like Ubuntu. There are great, straightforward instructions for doing (almost) exactly what you're looking for on the Ubuntu wiki: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebootstrapChroot. This has some important steps for bind mounting /proc/, /dev/ and /sys/ which you'll need for the chroot part.

Unfortunately, in the Fedora/RPM-based distro world, we don't have anything quite like that, although a) I think anaconda, the Fedora installer, can actually do this, but there's not good documentation for the process and b) you can just yum install packages into a chroot, which will work but isn't quite the same as getting a real system installed there. The Mock tool does "b" in order to provide a clean environment for package building, and does the bind mounts and everything, and you can actually use it (with mock shell) for other things in a pinch.

I say "almost exactly what you're looking for" because a chroot OS won't behave quite like a native install. To get closer, you want to use containers, which are basically a system for using Linux kernel features to make that chroot seem more like a full native OS to applications running in it. Right now, the hot topic in this space is Docker, a simple tool for managing and launching containers of all sorts. You can make your own base images (starting by using debootstrap in a chroot, for example!) or you can launch existing ones from the registry. Try:

$ sudo docker run -i -t fedora /bin/bash

even on an Ubuntu system, and that'll download and put you at a shell prompt inside a Fedora-based container. Or you can use the ubuntu base on Fedora or anywhere else — the only requirement is that the host kernel isn't ancient (or, of course, you can just run the same OS in the container as your host OS).

  • debootstrap is for native Ubuntu only. My target OS is non-standard. I have ISO of it. How can I used the above mentioned methods/tools to achieve the goal. Once installed, rather invoking any application, I'm more interested to explore their filesystem structure – SHW Sep 15 '14 at 8:24

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