systemd-dissect, mount.ddi — Dissect Discoverable Disk Images (DDIs)
systemd-dissect is a tool for introspecting and interacting with file system OS disk images, specifically Discoverable Disk Images (DDIs). It supports four different operations:
Show general OS image information, including the image's os-release(5) data, machine ID, partition information and more.
Mount an OS image to a local directory. In this mode it will dissect the OS image and mount the included partitions according to their designation onto a directory and possibly sub-directories.
Unmount an OS image from a local directory. In this mode it will recursively unmount the mounted partitions and remove the underlying loop device, including all the partition sub-devices.
Copy files and directories in and out of an OS image.
The tool may operate on three types of OS images:
OS disk images containing a GPT partition table envelope, with partitions marked according to the Discoverable Partitions Specification.
OS disk images containing just a plain file-system without an enveloping partition table. (This file system is assumed to be the root file system of the OS.)
OS disk images containing a GPT or MBR partition table, with a single partition only. (This partition is assumed to contain the root file system of the OS.)
OS images may use any kind of Linux-supported file systems. In addition they may make use of LUKS
disk encryption, and contain Verity integrity information. Note that qualifying OS images may be booted
--image= switch, and be used as root file system for system service using the
RootImage= unit file setting, see
Note that the partition table shown when invoked without command switch (as listed below) does not
necessarily show all partitions included in the image, but just the partitions that are understood and
considered part of an OS disk image. Specifically, partitions of unknown types are ignored, as well as
duplicate partitions (i.e. more than one per partition type), as are root and
partitions of architectures not compatible with the local system. In other words: this tool will display
what it operates with when mounting the image. To display the complete list of partitions use a tool such
The systemd-dissect command may be invoked as mount.ddi in which case it implements the mount(8) "external helper" interface. This ensures disk images compatible with systemd-dissect can be mounted directly by mount and fstab(5). For details see below.
If neither of the command switches listed below are passed the specified disk image is opened and general information about the image and the contained partitions and their use is shown.
Mount the specified OS image to the specified directory. This will dissect the image, determine the OS root file system — as well as possibly other partitions — and mount them to the specified directory. If the OS image contains multiple partitions marked with the Discoverable Partitions Specification multiple nested mounts are established. This command expects two arguments: a path to an image file and a path to a directory where to mount the image.
To unmount an OS image mounted like this use the
When the OS image contains LUKS encrypted or Verity integrity protected file systems appropriate volumes are automatically set up and marked for automatic disassembly when the image is unmounted.
The OS image may either be specified as path to an OS image stored in a regular file or may refer to block device node (in the latter case the block device must be the "whole" device, i.e. not a partition device). (The other supported commands described here support this, too.)
All mounted file systems are checked with the appropriate fsck(8)
implementation in automatic fixing mode, unless explicitly turned off (
read-only operation is requested (
This is a shortcut for
Unmount an OS image from the specified directory. This command expects one argument: a directory where an OS image was mounted.
All mounted partitions will be recursively unmounted, and the underlying loop device will be removed, along with all its partition sub-devices.
This is a shortcut for
Attach the specified disk image to an automatically allocated loopback block device, and print the path to the loopback block device to standard output. This is similar to an invocation of losetup --find --show, but will validate the image as DDI before attaching, and derive the correct sector size to use automatically. Moreover, it ensures the per-partition block devices are created before returning. Takes a path to a disk image file.
Detach the specified disk image from a loopback block device. This undoes the effect
--attach above. This expects either a path to a loopback block device as an
argument, or the path to the backing image file. In the latter case it will automatically determine
the right device to detach.
Prints the paths of all the files and directories in the specified OS image or directory to standard output.
Generates a BSD mtree(8) compatible file manifest of the specified disk image or directory. This is useful for comparing image contents in detail, including inode information and other metadata. While the generated manifest will contain detailed inode information, it currently excludes extended attributes, file system capabilities, MAC labels, chattr(1) file flags, btrfs(5) subvolume information, and various other file metadata. File content information is shown via a SHA256 digest. Additional fields might be added in future. Note that inode information such as link counts, inode numbers and timestamps is excluded from the output on purpose, as it typically complicates reproducibility.
Runs the specified command with the specified OS image mounted. This will mount the
image to a temporary directory, switch the current working directory to it, and invoke the specified
command line as child process. Once the process ends it will unmount the image again, and remove the
temporary directory. If no command is specified a shell is invoked. The image is mounted writable,
--read-only to switch to read-only operation. The invoked process will have the
$SYSTEMD_DISSECT_ROOT environment variable set, containing the absolute path name
of the temporary mount point, i.e. the same directory that is set as the current working
directory. It will also have the
$SYSTEMD_DISSECT_DEVICE environment variable set,
containing the absolute path name of the loop device the image was attached to.
Copies a file or directory from the specified OS image or directory into the
specified location on the host file system. Expects three arguments: a path to an image file or
directory, a source path (relative to the image's root directory) and a destination path (relative to
the current working directory, or an absolute path, both outside of the image). If the destination
path is omitted or specified as dash ("
-"), the specified file is written to
standard output. If the source path in the image file system refers to a regular file it is copied to
the destination path. In this case access mode, extended attributes and timestamps are copied as
well, but file ownership is not. If the source path in the image refers to a directory, it is copied
to the destination path, recursively with all containing files and directories. In this case the file
ownership is copied too.
Copies a file or directory from the specified location in the host file system into
the specified OS image or directory. Expects three arguments: a path to an image file or directory, a
source path (relative to the current working directory, or an absolute path, both outside of the
image) and a destination path (relative to the image's root directory). If the source path is omitted
or specified as dash ("
-"), the data to write is read from standard input. If the
source path in the host file system refers to a regular file, it is copied to the destination path.
In this case access mode, extended attributes and timestamps are copied as well, but file ownership
is not. If the source path in the host file system refers to a directory it is copied to the
destination path, recursively with all containing files and directories. In this case the file
ownership is copied too.
--mount file system checks are implicitly run before the copy
Show a list of DDIs in well-known directories. This will show machine, portable
service and system/configuration extension disk images in the usual directories
/var/lib/extensions/ and so
Validates the partition arrangement of a disk image (DDI), and ensures it matches the
image policy specified via
--image-policy=, if one is specified. This parses the
partition table and probes the file systems in the image, but does not attempt to mount them (nor to
set up disk encryption/authentication via LUKS/Verity). It does this taking the configured image
dissection policy into account. Since this operation does not mount file systems, this command –
unlike all other commands implemented by this tool – requires no privileges other than the ability to
access the specified file. Prints "OK" and returns zero if the image appears to be in order and
matches the specified image dissection policy. Otherwise prints an error message and returns
The following options are understood:
Operate in read-only mode. By default
--mount will establish
writable mount points. If this option is specified they are established in read-only mode
Turn off automatic file system checking. By default when an image is accessed for
--copy-to) the file systems contained in the
OS image are automatically checked using the appropriate fsck(8)
command, in automatic fixing mode. This behavior may be switched off using
Turn off automatic growing of accessed file systems to their partition size, if
marked for that in the GPT partition table. By default when an image is accessed for writing (by
--copy-to) the file systems contained in the OS image
are automatically grown to their partition sizes, if bit 59 in the GPT partition flags is set for
partition types that are defined by the Discoverable Partitions Specification. This
behavior may be switched off using
--growfs=no. File systems are grown automatically
on access if all of the following conditions are met:
The file system is mounted writable
The file system currently is smaller than the partition it is contained in (and thus can be grown)
The image contains a GPT partition table
The file system is stored on a partition defined by the Discoverable Partitions Specification
Bit 59 of the GPT partition flags for this partition is set, as per specification
--growfs=no option is not passed.
If combined with
--mount the directory to mount the OS image to is
created if it is missing. Note that the directory is not automatically removed when the disk image is
If combined with
--umount the specified directory where the OS image
is mounted is removed after unmounting the OS image.
Takes one of "
crypto". If "
disabled" the image is
accessed with empty block discarding turned off. If "
loop" discarding is enabled if
operating on a regular file. If "
crypt" discarding is enabled even on encrypted file
systems. If "
all" discarding is unconditionally enabled.
If specified an in-memory copy of the specified disk image is used. This may be used to operate with write-access on a (possibly read-only) image, without actually modifying the original file. This may also be used in order to operate on a disk image without keeping the originating file system busy, in order to allow it to be unmounted.
Configure various aspects of Verity data integrity for the OS image. Option
--root-hash= specifies a hex-encoded top-level Verity hash to use for setting up the
Verity integrity protection. Option
--root-hash-sig= specifies the path to a file
containing a PKCS#7 signature for the hash. This signature is passed to the kernel during activation,
which will match it against signature keys available in the kernel keyring. Option
--verity-data= specifies a path to a file with the Verity data to use for the OS
image, in case it is stored in a detached file. It is recommended to embed the Verity data directly
in the image, using the Verity mechanisms in the Discoverable Partitions Specification.
Configures the "reference" string the kernel shall report as backing file for the
loopback block device. While this is supposed to be a path or filename referencing the backing file,
this is not enforced and the kernel accepts arbitrary free-form strings, chosen by the user. Accepts
arbitrary strings up to a length of 63 characters. This sets the kernel's
.lo_file_name" field for the block device. Note this is distinct from the
/sys/class/block/loopX/loop/backing_file attribute file that always reports a
path referring to the actual backing file. The latter is subject to mount namespace translation, the
former is not.
This setting is particularly useful in combination with the
as it allows later referencing the allocated loop device via
/dev/disk/by-loop-ref/… symlinks. Example: first, set up the loopback device
via systemd-dissect attach --loop-ref=quux foo.raw, and then reference it in a
command via the specified filename: cfdisk /dev/disk/by-loop-ref/quux.
If combined with
--mtree, turns off inclusion of file hashes in the
mtree output. This makes the
--mtree faster when operating on large images.
Takes an image policy string as argument, as per
policy is enforced when operating on the disk image specified via
above. If not specified defaults to the "
*" policy, i.e. all recognized file systems
in the image are used.
Do not pipe output into a pager.
Do not print the legend, i.e. column headers and the footer with hints.
Shows output formatted as JSON. Expects one of "
short" (for the
shortest possible output without any redundant whitespace or line breaks), "
(for a pretty version of the same, with indentation and line breaks) or "
off" (to turn
off JSON output, the default).
On success, 0 is returned, a non-zero failure code otherwise. If the
command is used the exit status of the invoked command is propagated.
The systemd-dissect executable may be symlinked to
/sbin/mount.ddi. If invoked through that it implements mount(8)'s
"external helper" interface for the (pseudo) file system type "
ddi". This means
conformant disk images may be mounted directly via
# mount -t ddi myimage.raw targetdir/
in a fashion mostly equivalent to:
# systemd-dissect --mount myimage.raw targetdir/
Note that since a single DDI may contain multiple file systems it should later be unmounted with umount -R targetdir/, for recursive operation.
This functionality is particularly useful to mount DDIs automatically at boot via simple
/etc/fstab entries. For example:
/path/to/myimage.raw /images/myimage/ ddi defaults 0 0
When invoked this way the mount options "
nodiscard" map to the corresponding options listed above
--discard=disabled). Mount options are not generically passed on to
the file systems inside the images.
Example 1. Generate a tarball from an OS disk image
# systemd-dissect --with foo.raw tar cz . >foo.tar.gz