Build a Linux Distro You Can Be Proud Of

khess 0 Tallied Votes 445 Views Share

If you've always wanted to create your own Linux distribution (distro), like I have, now you can by using a tool that was originally developed to create Virtual Appliances. SUSE Studio (still currently in alpha) is a web-based tool that helps you create Linux Virtual Appliances and complete bootable distros on CD/DVDs or USB drives.

Starting in early 2009, you can sign up for the beta version but to see the power of this tool now, you can pick up the January 2009 copy of Linux Pro Magazine complete with screenshots and a full description of its features.

You begin with a basic Linux installation based on OpenSUSE but you have lots of options to install all kinds of software and applications to make the ultimate Desktop, a cool Server system, or your very own branded Virtual Appliance.

How long does it take to build your very own Linux distribution?

About 20 minutes from login to download.

How large your distribution is depends on how many packages you install on it. If you're a minimalist, you can get away with under 600MB but if you get caught up in the process for a full-blown Desktop with KDE or GNOME, you could exceed 3GB.

Have lots of Blank DVD-Rs handy.

Not to worry, there is a Testdrive option that allows you to boot and use your new distro before you download it so that you don't waste valuable download time or blank media.

Keep an eye out for the public beta and stay tuned here for more info about building and using your own Linux distro with SUSE Studio and other tools.

Would you like to build your own Linux distro or have you already? Use the comments section to let me know.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Very cool, Ken. I would love to play with that when it comes out and choose the options that work best for me.

michinobu_zoned 0 Light Poster

They have that at the computer science's lab at my school. Sucks ass! They replaced the $15K Solaris Sunblade workstations with PC-architecture Linux systems which really just logs-on to a server as oppossed to running off the PC's harddrive, because that's all that the IT department (a different department from my own major's) knows how to use. So, we end up having the server slow down to unacceptable rate on us when all of us are pushing up on those deadlines.

khess 95 Practically a Master Poster


What do they have at your school? If you are using Linux workstations and they are slow, it could be something they are trying to do or the person who built them did it wrong.

I'd be glad to help.

abhi.navale 0 Light Poster

hi Ken,
I want to create linux installation disc.(not necessarily live cd/dvd)
I have ubuntu 9.04 installed on my pc.
But my requirement is that i want to add all the packages & softwares which I installed on my current system; to my installation disc.
I want to personalize this installation disc so that when i install from this disk; then it should install ubuntu 9.04 with all my custome settings and necessarily all the softwares, packages etc.
Can u plz tell me how to do that?

tallship 16 Newbie Poster

I rally don't know why people call these 'disros'. They're not. They're liveCDs populated with software you want to run, or PXE or USB, etc.

The same thing is available at - spin your own liveCD? NO! They call them distros, and their not. The distros are Ubuntu or Deb or Fedora, etc.,

Even LFS isn't REALLY building your own distro - it's building your own UNIX system with the Linux kernel.

In order to build your own distro, what you need to take into consideration is this:

1.) it must have a method for distribution. i.e., an installable CD (or bootable media that connects to an NFS or FTP server, etc.) with an installer that when 'distributed' to people in the marketplace, allows those users who bought or downloaded your distro to boot their machine, partition their hard drives, select software, and then actually install the operating system onto their hard drive - like a Windows install CD or a Slackware install CD/DVD.

2.) You *should* have a package management utility, so that the people who procure your distro can at anytime install, upgrade, or uninstall software packages.

3.) You should maintain the distro - meaning that as new kernels come out and new versions of software, the next version of your distro will have those components as part of the installation of the OS.

LFS is a good start for building yourself a distro from scratch, or you can begin with and existing distro, say, one that is RPM based, or one like Slackware or Deb based, and then you need to think about what kind of package managment system you want, and adapt or create one yourself.

Finally, what kind of installation system do you want? There is the Slackware installer, Anaconda (The Redhat based installer), and Ubiquity, for starters.

Otherwise, what your faced with is a live CD that is tied to a particular architecture or is really just a customized install of Suse or Fedora or Ubuntu. That's not a distribution, because a distribution itself is meant to be distributed with software that the user chooses.

To use Suse Studio, you are merely creating a custom installation of a Suse system containing the software you have decided to run - Much like Slax or Instalinux.

Even PuppyLinux has a feature so you can remaster a custom version of it - again, this still is not your own distro.

For information on actually creating a real distro, The links below should be of particular interest: or or the Slackware Installer system will work for what you want.

Anaconda, Ubiquity, and the Slackware installer each will let you do this (with non-trivial effort, but then again LFS is a non-trivial endeavor in and of itself so it won't be a problem by the time you finish your LFS), with the addition of more compiled software on your LFS (which you can glean from the requirements of the three installers mentioned above).

This question gets asked quite OFTEN. So I decided to round up a few of the threads that addressed this question for future people who search for this answer in the hopes of providing them with the info they've asked for.

The home page for Anaconda and the section that references specifically what you are asking is here: with some required reading here as well:

You can get some nice screen shots of what Anaconda can do when incorporated into a distribution of your own by visiting here:

I hope that helps distinguish the difference between an actual distro and a simple remastering of a distro (that lets you put your name on that particular spin of "their" distro).

jojothehobo 0 Newbie Poster

Tallship has a good introduction to custom Linux installations but misses a key bugaboo that limits Linux market penetration- Drivers.
I had a number of students seriously interested in exploring Linux as a Windows alternative but got discouraged when they couldn't find drivers for their hardware and peripherals.

khakilang -3 Posting Pro in Training

That will be cool. Something to call your own.

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