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Currently, the official way of deploying a custom distribution or different operating system on Linode is installing it locally in a virtual machine and copying the resulting disk verbatim to a Linode disk.

I have some concerns about this though.

Isn’t the point of an installer is to configure the system to work on the actual hardware it is installed to? Is the hardware interface provided by VirtualBox identical to the one provided by Linode’s KVM virtualization? If so, why is the need to adjust the uploaded image as indicated at the end of the linked article? And how come the choice of virtual machine manager is inconsequential and there are no configuration parameters provided for the virtual machine setup? How can I know what needs to be adjusted on different distributions, or if instructions provided for a given distribution are complete?

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Linux is pretty adaptive; at boot time it tries to work out the machine it is in and will load the necessary drivers (as long as they are available!).

Depending on the age of your linode you will either have a Xen or a KVM based virtual machine. This is subtly different from a VirtualBox build, but close enough.

The final section of that tutorial and the "helpers" shown should be enough to handle the changes.

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