Quick Start



This document describes how to start with KIWI, an OS appliance builder. This description applies for version 9.4.3.


Packages for the new KIWI version are provided at the openSUSE buildservice.

Add the repository with zypper ar (see following code) and replace the distribution placeholder. The best approach is to click on the desired distribution from the build service link above and there follow the Go to download repository link.


Multipython packages

This version of KIWI is provided for python 2 and python 3 versions. The following information is based on the installation of the python3-kiwi package and applies also to the installation of the python2-kiwi package.

$ sudo zypper ar -f \
$ sudo zypper in python3-kiwi


The legacy KIWI version can be installed and used together with the next generation KIWI.


Automatic Link Creation for kiwi Command

Note the python3-kiwi package uses the alternatives mechanism to setup a symbolic link named kiwi to the real executable named kiwi-ng. If the link target /usr/bin/kiwi already exists on your system, the alternative setup will skip the creation of the link target because it already exists.

From an appliance description perspective, both KIWI versions are fully compatible. Users can build their appliances with both versions and the same appliance description. If the appliance description uses features the next generation KIWI does not provide, the build will fail with an exception early. If the appliance description uses next generation features like the selection of the initrd system, it’s not possible to build that with the legacy KIWI, unless the appliance description properly encapsulates the differences into a profile.

The next generation KIWI also provides the --compat option and the kiwicompat tool to be able to use the same commandline as provided with the legacy KIWI version.

Example Appliance Descriptions

For use with the next generation KIWI there is also a GitHub project hosting example appliance descriptions. Users who need an example to start with should checkout the project as follows:

$ git clone https://github.com/SUSE/kiwi-descriptions

Example Image Build on Host System

Install python3-kiwi as explained above and build as follows:

$ sudo kiwi-ng --type vmx system build \
    --description kiwi-descriptions/suse/x86_64/suse-leap-42.1-JeOS \
    --target-dir /tmp/myimage

Find the image with the suffix .raw below /tmp/myimage.

Example Image Build in Container

Install dice and build as follows:

$ dice build kiwi-descriptions/suse/x86_64/suse-leap-42.1-JeOS
$ dice status kiwi-descriptions/suse/x86_64/suse-leap-42.1-JeOS

Find the image in a tarball displayed by the status command.

In order to run your image build, call qemu as follows:

$ qemu -drive \

Using KIWI NG from Build Service

The next generation KIWI is fully integrated with the build service. As an example you can find the integration testing system in the buildservice project Virtualization:Appliances:Images:Testing_ at:


In order to use the next generation KIWI to build an appliance in the build service it is only required to add the Builder project as repository to the KIWI XML configuration like in the following example:

<repository type="rpm-md" alias="kiwi-next-generation">
    <source path="obs://Virtualization:Appliances:Builder/Factory"/>

The Builder project configuration in the build service is setup to prefer the next generation KIWI over the legacy version. Thus adding the Builder repository inherits this project setup and activates building with the next generation KIWI.

Using KIWI NG in a Python Project

KIWI NG can also function as a module for other Python projects. The following example demonstrates how to read an existing image description, add a new repository definition and export the modified description on stdout.

import sys
import logging

from kiwi.xml_description import XMLDescription
from kiwi.xml_state import XMLState

# Import of log handler only needed if default logging
# setup is not appropriate for the project
# from kiwi.logger import log

# By default the logging level is set to DEBUG, which
# can be changed by the following call
# log.setLogLevel(logging.INFO)

# Logging can also be disabled completely
# log.disabled = True

description = XMLDescription('path/to/kiwi/XML/config.xml')

xml_data = description.load()

xml_state = XMLState(
    xml_data=xml_data, profiles=[], build_type='iso'


    outfile=sys.stdout, level=0

All classes are written in a way to care for a single responsibility in order to allow for re-use on other use cases. Therefore it is possible to use KIWI NG outside of the main image building scope to manage e.g the setup of loop devices, filesystems, partitions, etc...