Bifrost Installation


This document will guide you through installing the Bare Metal Service (ironic) using Bifrost.

Supported operating systems

Full support (fully tested in the CI, no known or potential issues):

  • CentOS Stream 9


    RHEL 9 and derivatives are assumed to work but not tested explicitly.

  • Ubuntu 22.04 “Jammy”

  • Debian 11 “Bullseye” and 12 “Bookworm”


Operating systems evolve and so does the support for them, even on stable branches.

Bifrost structure

Installation and use of Bifrost is split into roughly three steps:

  • install: prepare the local environment by downloading and/or building machine images, and installing and configuring the necessary services.

  • enroll-dynamic: take as input a customizable hardware inventory file and enroll the listed hardware with ironic, configuring each appropriately for deployment with the previously-downloaded images.

  • deploy-dynamic: instruct ironic to deploy the operating system onto each machine.

Installation of Bifrost can be done in three ways:

  • Via the bifrost-cli command line tool.

    This is the path recommended for those who want something that just works. It provides minimum configuration and uses the recommended defaults.

  • By directly invoking ansible-playbook on one of provided playbooks.

  • By writing your own playbooks using Ansible roles provided with Bifrost.

If you want to understand what and how is installed by Bifrost, please see Bifrost Architecture.

Pre-install steps

Know your environment

Before you start, you need to gather certain facts about your bare metal environment (this step can be skipped if you’re testing Bifrost on virtual machines).

For the machine that hosts Bifrost you’ll need to figure out:

  • The network interface you’re going to use for communication between the bare metal machines and the Bifrost services.

    On systems using firewalld (Fedora, CentOS and RHEL currently), a new zone bifrost will be created, and the network interface will be moved to it. DHCP, PXE and API services will only be added to this zone. If you need any of them available in other zones, you need to configure firewall yourself.


    If you use the same NIC for bare metal nodes and external access, installing bifrost may lock you out of SSH to the node. You have two options:

    1. Pre-create the bifrost firewalld zone before installation and add the SSH service to it.

    2. Use the public zone by providing firewalld_internal_zone=public when installing.

  • Whether to use the integrated DHCP server or an external DHCP service.

  • Pool of IP addresses for DHCP (must be within the network configured on the chosen network interface).

  • Whether you want the services to use authentication via Keystone.

For each machine that is going to be enrolled in the Bare Metal service you’ll need:

  • The management technology you are going to use to control the machine (IPMI, Redfish, etc). See bare metal drivers for guidance.

  • An IP address or a host name of its management controller (BMC).

  • Credentials for the management controller.

  • MAC address of the NIC the machine uses for PXE booting (optional for IPMI).

  • Whether it boots in the UEFI or legacy (BIOS) mode.


    Some hardware types (like redfish) can enforce the desired boot mode, while the other (like ipmi) require the same boot mode to be set in ironic and on the machine.

Required packages

To start with Bifrost you will need Python 3.6 or newer and the git source code management tool.

On CentOS/RHEL/Fedora:

sudo dnf install -y git python3

On Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y python3 git

On openSUSE:

sudo zipper install -y python3 git

Enable additional repositories (RHEL only)

The extras and optional dnf repositories must be enabled to satisfy bifrost’s dependencies. To check:

sudo dnf repolist | grep 'optional\|extras'

To view the status of repositories:

sudo dnf repolist all | grep 'optional\|extras'

The output will look like this:

!rhui-REGION-rhel-server-debug-extras/8Server/x86_64        Red H disabled
rhui-REGION-rhel-server-debug-optional/8Server/x86_64       Red H disabled
rhui-REGION-rhel-server-extras/8Server/x86_64               Red H disabled
rhui-REGION-rhel-server-optional/8Server/x86_64             Red H disabled
rhui-REGION-rhel-server-source-extras/8Server/x86_64        Red H disabled
rhui-REGION-rhel-server-source-optional/8Server/x86_64      Red H disabled

Use the names of the repositories (minus the version and architecture) to enable them:

sudo dnf config-manager --enable rhui-REGION-rhel-server-optional
sudo dnf config-manager --enable rhui-REGION-rhel-server-extras

Enable the EPEL repository (RHEL and CentOS)

Building Debian or Ubuntu based images on RHEL or CentOS requires a few extra pre-install steps, in order to have access to the additional packages contained in the EPEL repository.

Please refer to the official wiki page to install and configure them.


Use of EPEL repositories may result in incompatible packages being installed by the package manager. Care should be taken when using a system with EPEL enabled.

Clone Bifrost

Bifrost is typically installed from git:

git clone
cd bifrost

To install Bare Metal services from a specific release series (rather than the latest versions), check out the corresponding stable branch. For example, for Ussuri:

git checkout stable/ussuri

Testing on virtual machines

If you want to try Bifrost on virtual machines instead of real hardware, you need to prepare a testing environment. The easiest way is via bifrost-cli, available since the Victoria release series:

./bifrost-cli testenv

Then do not forget to pass --testenv flag to bifrost-cli install.

See Testing Environment for more details and for advanced ways of creating a virtual environment (also supported on Ussuri and older).


Testenv for bifrost will default to using the default libvirt network. If you are installing the testenv inside a VM using the default libvirt network, you will encounter errors.

Quick start with bifrost-cli

The bifrost-cli script, available since the Victoria release series, installs the Bare Metal service with the recommended defaults. Follow Installation via playbooks if using Ussuri or older or if you need a full control over your environment.

Using it is as simple as:

./bifrost-cli install \
    --network-interface <the network interface to use> \
    --dhcp-pool <DHCP start IP>-<DHCP end IP>

For example:

./bifrost-cli install --network-interface eno1 \


See Know your environment for the guidance on the two required parameters.

If installing on a virtual environment, skip these two parameters:

./bifrost-cli install --testenv

Additionally, the following parameters can be useful:


A comma separated list of hardware types to enable.


Whether to enable authentication with Keystone.


Enable self-signed TLS on API endpoints.


If using Keystone, see TLS notes for important notes.


If using a stable version of Bifrost, the corresponding version of Ironic is usually detected from the git checkout. If it is not possible (e.g. you’re using Bifrost from a tarball), use this argument to provide the matching version.


Using Bifrost to install older versions of Ironic may work, but is not guaranteed.


Enable the Ironic Prometheus Exporter service.

--uefi / --legacy-boot

Boot machines in the UEFI or BIOS mode by default (defaults to UEFI).


Disable the configuration of the integrated DHCP server, allowing to use an external DHCP service.


Install services in develop mode, so that the changes to the repositories in /opt get immediately reflected in the environment.

See the built-in documentation for more details:

./bifrost-cli install --help

The Ansible variables generated for installation are stored in a JSON file (baremetal-install-env.json by default) that should be passed via the -e flag to subsequent playbook or command invocations.

Build Custom Ironic Python Agent (IPA) images

Bifrost supports the ability for a user to build a custom IPA ramdisk utilizing diskimage-builder and ironic-python-agent-builder. In order to utilize this feature, the download_ipa setting must be set to false and the create_ipa_image must be set to “true”. By default, the install playbook will build a Debian Bookworm based IPA image, if a pre-existing IPA image is not present on disk. If you wish to explicitly set a specific release to be passed to diskimage-create, then the setting dib_os_release can be set in addition to dib_os_element.

If you wish to include an extra element into the IPA disk image, such as a custom hardware manager, you can pass the variable ipa_extra_dib_elements as a space-separated list of elements. This defaults to an empty string.

Using Bifrost

After installation is done, export the following environment variable to configure the bare metal client to use the bifrost cloud configuration from the generated clouds.yaml (see Use the baremetal CLI for details):

export OS_CLOUD=bifrost

Now you can use Ironic directly, see the standalone guide for more details. Alternatively, you can use the provided playbooks to automate certain common operations - see How-To.

Advanced Topics