Use operating system images to create boot disks for your instances. You can use one of the following image types:

You can use most public images at no additional cost, but there are some premium images that do add additional cost to your instances. Custom images that you import to Compute Engine add no cost to your instances, but do incur an image storage charge while you keep your custom image in your project.

Some images are capable of running containers on Compute Engine.

To view the source image for a VM, see Viewing source image.

Public images

Compute Engine offers many preconfigured public images that have compatible Linux or Windows operating systems. Use these operating system images to create and start instances. Compute Engine uses your selected image to create a persistent boot disk for each instance. By default, the boot disk for an instance is the same size as the image that you selected. If your instance requires a larger persistent boot disk than the image size, resize the boot disk.

List of public images available on Compute Engine

You can see the full list of public images with their image names, versions numbers, and image sizes, by using the Google Cloud Console or the gcloud command-line tool. Google updates public images regularly, or when a patch for a critical impact common vulnerability and exposure (CVE) is available.


  1. In the Google Cloud Console, go to the Images page.

    Go to Images


gcloud compute images list

Compute Engine provides public images with 64-bit versions of the following operating systems. For more information about each OS, including how each OS is customized to run on Compute Engine, see Operating system details.

Operating system details

To view a detailed list of public images, see Operating system details.

Support policy for OS images

Mainstream support
Image providers typically publish updates every month. In these updates, new features might be introduced. New features are typically not backported to images after this stage.
Extended/long-term support

Image providers stop providing monthly updates and mark the images as deprecated. You can still use deprecated images, but you are responsible for acquiring updates, which are subject to availability from the OS distribution, vendor, or open source community.

To create a VM from a deprecated image, you must use the gcloud tool or the Compute Engine API. When specifying the image, you must use the --image flag because image families don't point to deprecated images. For more information about creating VMs, see Create a VM instance from a public image.

We generally don't backport new features to these deprecated versions in the extended lifecycle stage or past the extended lifecycle.

End of life/maintenance/support

Google stops supporting the image.

Custom images

A custom image is a boot disk image that you own and control access to. Use custom images for the following tasks:

  • Import a boot disk image to Compute Engine from your on-premises environment, or import virtual disks from VMs that are running on your local workstation or on another cloud platform.

  • Create an image from the boot disks of your existing Compute Engine instances. Then use that image to create new boot disks for your instances. This process lets you to create new instances that are preconfigured with the apps that you need without having to configure a public image from scratch.

  • Copy one image to another image by using either the gcloud tool or the API. Use the same process that you use to create an image, but specify another image as the image source. You can also create an image from a custom image in a different project.

Guest operating system features

Some guest operating system features are available only on certain images. For example, multiqueue SCSI is enabled only on some public images.

If you need to enable these features on your custom images, specify one or more guest operating system features when you create a custom image.

Image families

Image families help you manage images in your project by grouping related images together, so that you can roll forward and roll back between specific image versions. An image family always points to the latest version of an image that is not deprecated. Most public images are grouped into an image family. For example, the debian-9 image family in the debian-cloud project always points to the most recent Debian 9 image.

Custom image families

If you regularly update your custom images with newer configurations and software, you can group those images into a custom image family. The image family always points to the most recent image in that family, so your instance templates and scripts can use that image without having to update references to a specific image version.

Also, because the image family never points to a deprecated image, you can roll the image family back to a previous image version by deprecating the most recent image in that family.

For more information, see Setting image versions in an image family.

For best practices recommendations when working with image families, see Image families best practices.

Community supported images

Community-supported images are not directly supported by Compute Engine. It is up to the project community to ensure that images work with Compute Engine features and that security updates are maintained. Community-supported images are provided as-is by the project communities that build and maintain them.

Debian testing

Debian is a free operating system offered by the Debian community. The Debian testing image is provided on a best effort basis for development and testing. To list Debian testing images, use the following gcloud command:

gcloud compute images list --project debian-cloud-testing --no-standard-images


AlmaLinux is a free operating system offered by the AlmaLinux project. AlmaLinux images are available in the almalinux-cloud project. To list AlmaLinux images, use the following gcloud command:

gcloud compute images list --project almalinux-cloud --no-standard-images


openSUSE is a free Linux-based operating system sponsored by SUSE. openSUSE images are available in the opensuse-cloud project. To list openSUSE images, use the following gcloud command:

gcloud compute images list --project opensuse-cloud --no-standard-images


FreeBSD is a free operating system maintained by the FreeBSD project. FreeBSD images are available in the freebsd-org-cloud-dev project. To list FreeBSD images, use the following gcloud command:

gcloud compute images list --project freebsd-org-cloud-dev --no-standard-images

HPC images

The following image is available for creating VMs that are optimized to run HPC workloads on Compute Engine:

  • Image family: hpc-centos-7, Image project: cloud-hpc-image-public

For information about using this image, see Creating an HPC-ready VM instance.

What's next

Try it for yourself

If you're new to Google Cloud, create an account to evaluate how Compute Engine performs in real-world scenarios. New customers also get $300 in free credits to run, test, and deploy workloads.

Try Compute Engine free