Contributing to RancherOS


Development is easiest done with QEMU on Linux. OS X works too, although QEMU doesn’t have KVM support. If you are running Linux in a virtual machine, then we recommend you run VMWare Fusion/Workstation and enable VT-x support. Then, QEMU will have KVM support and run sufficiently fast inside your Linux VM.



  • bash
  • make
  • Docker 1.10.3+
$ make

The build will run in Docker containers, and when the build is done, the vmlinuz, initrd, and ISO should be in dist/artifacts.

If you’re building a version of RancherOS used for development and not for a release, you can instead run make dev. This will run faster than the standard build by avoiding building the installer.tar and rootfs.tar.gz artifacts which are not needed by QEMU.


Run make integration-tests to run the all integration tests in a container, or ./scripts/integration-tests to run them outside a container (they use QEMU to test the OS.)

To run just one integration test, or a group of them (using regex’s like .*Console.*, you can set the RUNTEST environment variable:

$ RUNTEST=TestPreload make integration-test


Prerequisites: QEMU, coreutils, cdrtools/genisoimage/mkisofs.
On OS X, brew is recommended to install those. On Linux, use your distro package manager.

To launch RancherOS in QEMU from your dev version, you can either use make run, or customise the vm using ./scripts/run and its options. You can use --append your.kernel=params here and --cloud-config your-cloud-config.yml to configure the RancherOS instance you’re launching.

You can SSH in using ./scripts/ssh. Your SSH keys should have been populated (if you didn’t provide your own cloud-config) so you won’t need a password. If you don’t have SSH keys, or something is wrong with your cloud-config, then the password is “rancher”.

If you’re on OS X, you can run RancherOS using xhyve instead of QEMU: just pass --xhyve to ./scripts/run and ./scripts/ssh.

Debugging and logging.

You can enable extra log information in the console by setting them using sudo ros config set,
or as kernel boot parameters.
Enable all logging by setting rancher.debug true
or you can set rancher.docker.debug, rancher.system_docker.debug, rancher.bootstrap_docker.debug, or rancher.log individually.

You will also be able to view the debug logging information by running dmesg as root.


All of repositories are located within our main GitHub page.

RancherOS Repo: This repo contains the bulk of the RancherOS code.

RancherOS Services Repo: This repo is where any system-services can be contributed.

RancherOS Images Repo: This repo is for the corresponding service images.


If you find any bugs or are having any trouble, please contact us by filing an issue.

If you have any updates to our documentation, please make any PRs to our docs repo.