A golden image is a template for a virtual machine (VM), virtual desktop, server or hard disk drive. A golden image may also be referred to as a clone image, master image or base image.
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To create a golden image, an administrator first sets up the computing environment exactly the way it is needed and then saves the disk image as a pattern for making more copies. The use of golden images can save time and ensure consistency by eliminating the need for repetitive configuration changes and performance tweaks. This approach can be compared to automated replication, which requires a configuration management tool such as Puppet to build new images on demand.
In a self-service provisioning environment, a collection of golden images may be referred to as a golden repository, gold catalog or golden image library.
See also: vanilla image, ghost image, VM sprawl