Got a distro to install? Try Calamares!

Calamares

Calamares is an independent OS installer for Linux distributions. It comes in handy when you have a distro but no installer. The power of Calamares is in its modular design which can be extended with custom modules. Branding is quite simple too! For OS maintainers, Calamares is a free and beautiful option as an installer. Continue reading Got a distro to install? Try Calamares!

Minimal Linux Live: Linux from scratch

tux_compDid you ever want to spin your own distro with a few set of useful utilities like a Swiss Army Knife? Minimal Linux Live is the project you should refer. The project comes with a few scripts which are the foundation of creating a tiny distro from scratch. You can keep building on top of it easily and finally spin a Linux distro with utilities you need. let’s check out how. Continue reading Minimal Linux Live: Linux from scratch

Pinguy Builder: Remastersys revived for Ubuntu

If you are not aware of Remastersys, it was a utility to create live or installable CDs and USBs from a running system along with user data, used heavily to create custom spins from stock Linux distributions. The project was discontinued years back while it was still functional. Continue reading Pinguy Builder: Remastersys revived for Ubuntu

Distroshare: customized distro for your device

cool_penguin_smallNew users are often intimidated by the amount of time and effort required to customize a open source operating system to work on their devices after a fresh installation. Same goes for old users planning to buy a new laptop. It is often difficult to figure out if a new model will work in harmony with Linux or other open source OSes. Distroshare is a new online service trying to solve this problem.

Custom open source distro images for users by users.

The intent is – you can search and find the exact customized distro for your hardware or model and use it without solving the same problem twice. You can even test drive them from USB instead of installing on your hardware first. Where will the images come from? Users like you who sometimes spend months in customizing a OS create them and share for the benefit of others. Isn’t that a great advantage of using open source? Closed-source OSes can’t be redistributed at will like this!

The shared material can be in the form of images or scripts or how-tos. Security is of prime importance and there are provisions to make sure the images are safe and clean of malware. However, 100% security cannot be guaranteed in this kind of OS image sharing approach and the authors request to bring any issues to their notice so they can remove the rogue packages.

How to create the images? Ubuntu users can use Distroshare Ubuntu Imager. For Fedora it is Revisor and SuSE has its own SuSE Studio. The following tutorials explain how to customize Live CDs:

Every device is different. Every device needs different customizations. If the problem of repeat customization is solved it would be a great achievement. This is why the success of Distroshare is important. At the time of writing you will find only one image uploaded by the creators of Distroshare but let’s hope we find many more soon.

Webpage: Distroshare

Build your own Linux distro

tux_compLinux distros can come in varying sizes ranging from a few MBs to several GBs. And many of them come with a whole set of packages that may not be necessary for all needs. For example, if you want a server you may not need the media players or associated codecs in it. The good new is that Linux can be customized to an extreme degree to fit your needs and some of the distros give you the flexibility to choose packages and cook your own Linux distro without much effort. You can then try it out on a virtual machine before installing on hardware and see if it suits your needs.

  1. SuSE Studio: I think this is the highest degree of customization that any distro supports officially. You can build your own distro from the scratch.
  2. Porteus: A bleeding edge mini distro. You can choose many of the components.
  3. Ubuntu Mini Remix: A 200MB minimal Ubuntu distro that comes with customization tools in it. You can remaster your own Ubuntu variant from there.
  4. Ubuntu Builder: This is a utility that can create custom ISOs from base Ubuntu (or any Ubuntu variant like Mint) ISOs. Works even with Ubuntu Mini Remix.
  5. Novo Builder: A bunch of scripts for generating Debian based distros (including Ubuntu).

Build Linux from Scratch

tux_compWhile there are innumerable Linux distros out there, you can build one on your own right from the source code. While one indirect way is to use Gentoo which lets you choose packages and build them on your local machine, the hard way to learn is to start with the source code and tools. Though it may seem scary, to make things easier the LFS (Linux From Scratch) project and it’s forks (or supersets) has well-documented procedures to build your own minimal Linux distro, or, if you have the zeal and time for it, a full-fledged one.