Quickstart: Create a Linux virtual machine with the Azure CLI

Applies to: ✔️ Linux VMs

This quickstart shows you how to use the Azure CLI to deploy a Linux virtual machine (VM) in Azure. The Azure CLI is used to create and manage Azure resources via either the command line or scripts.

In this tutorial, we will be installing the latest Debian image. To show the VM in action, you'll connect to it using SSH and install the NGINX web server.

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.

Launch Azure Cloud Shell

The Azure Cloud Shell is a free interactive shell that you can use to run the steps in this article. It has common Azure tools preinstalled and configured to use with your account.

To open the Cloud Shell, just select Try it from the upper right corner of a code block. You can also open Cloud Shell in a separate browser tab by going to https://shell.azure.com/bash. Select Copy to copy the blocks of code, paste it into the Cloud Shell, and select Enter to run it.

If you prefer to install and use the CLI locally, this quickstart requires Azure CLI version 2.0.30 or later. Run az --version to find the version. If you need to install or upgrade, see Install Azure CLI.

Define Environment Variables

Environment variables are commonly used in Linux to centralize configuration data to improve consistency and maintainability of the system. Create the following environment variables to specify the names of resources that will be created later in this tutorial:

export RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME=myResourceGroup
export LOCATION=eastus
export VM_NAME=myVM
export VM_IMAGE=debian
export ADMIN_USERNAME=azureuser

Create a resource group

Create a resource group with the az group create command. An Azure resource group is a logical container into which Azure resources are deployed and managed.

az group create --name $RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME --location $LOCATION

Create virtual machine

Create a VM with the az vm create command.

The following example creates a VM and adds a user account. The --generate-ssh-keys parameter is used to automatically generate an SSH key, and put it in the default key location (~/.ssh). To use a specific set of keys instead, use the --ssh-key-values option.

az vm create \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME \
  --name $VM_NAME \
  --image $VM_IMAGE \
  --admin-username $ADMIN_USERNAME \
  --generate-ssh-keys \
  --public-ip-sku Standard

It takes a few minutes to create the VM and supporting resources. The following example output shows the VM create operation was successful.

  "fqdns": "",
  "id": "/subscriptions/<guid>/resourceGroups/myResourceGroup/providers/Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachines/myVM",
  "location": "eastus",
  "macAddress": "00-0D-3A-23-9A-49",
  "powerState": "VM running",
  "privateIpAddress": "",
  "publicIpAddress": "",
  "resourceGroup": "myResourceGroup"

Make a note of the publicIpAddress to use later.

You can retrieve and store the IP address in the variable IP_ADDRESS with the following command:

export IP_ADDRESS=$(az vm show --show-details --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME --name $VM_NAME --query publicIps --output tsv)


Azure provides a default outbound access IP for VMs that either aren't assigned a public IP address or are in the back-end pool of an internal basic Azure load balancer. The default outbound access IP mechanism provides an outbound IP address that isn't configurable.

The default outbound access IP is disabled when a public IP address is assigned to the VM, the VM is placed in the back-end pool of a standard load balancer, with or without outbound rules, or if an Azure Virtual Network NAT gateway resource is assigned to the subnet of the VM.

VMs that are created by virtual machine scale sets in flexible orchestration mode don't have default outbound access.

For more information about outbound connections in Azure, see Default outbound access in Azure and Use source network address translation (SNAT) for outbound connections.

Install web server

To see your VM in action, install the NGINX web server. Update your package sources and then install the latest NGINX package. The following command uses run-command to run sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y nginx on the VM:

az vm run-command invoke \
   --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME \
   --name $VM_NAME \
   --command-id RunShellScript \
   --scripts "sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y nginx"

Open port 80 for web traffic

By default, only SSH connections are opened when you create a Linux VM in Azure. Use az vm open-port to open TCP port 80 for use with the NGINX web server:

az vm open-port --port 80 --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME --name $VM_NAME

View the web server in action

Use a web browser of your choice to view the default NGINX welcome page. Use the public IP address of your VM as the web address. The following example shows the default NGINX web site:

Screenshot showing the N G I N X default web page.

Alternatively, run the following command to see the NGINX welcome page in the terminal


The following example shows the default NGINX web site in the terminal as successful output:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>Welcome to nginx!</title>
    body {
        width: 35em;
        margin: 0 auto;
        font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;
<h1>Welcome to nginx!</h1>
<p>If you see this page, the nginx web server is successfully installed and
working. Further configuration is required.</p>

<p>For online documentation and support please refer to
<a href="http://nginx.org/">nginx.org</a>.<br/>
Commercial support is available at
<a href="http://nginx.com/">nginx.com</a>.</p>

<p><em>Thank you for using nginx.</em></p>

Clean up resources

When no longer needed, you can use the az group delete command to remove the resource group, VM, and all related resources.

az group delete --name $RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME --no-wait --yes --verbose

Next steps

In this quickstart, you deployed a simple virtual machine, opened a network port for web traffic, and installed a basic web server. To learn more about Azure virtual machines, continue to the tutorial for Linux VMs.