Story 2015-04-25 7TAG Build Your Own Linux Distro

Build Your Own Linux Distro

Anonymous Coward
in ask on (#7TAG)
story imageBen Everard | April 23, 2015

"Do you have a favourite distro that you've spent hours customising? Mayank Sharma shows you how you can spin it into a live distro that you can pass to friends, family, or even on to DistroWatch!"
Reply 9 comments

Lots of Ubuntu without systemd clones (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-04-26 08:27 (#7V75)

In 3 ... 2...

Re: Lots of Ubuntu without systemd clones (Score: 1)

by on 2015-04-26 12:47 (#7VGG)

That would be just fine with me. Currently there are too many Ubuntu derivatives, in my opinion. Time for a little more diversity in the ecosystem.

Building a custom Linux system is easy (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2015-04-26 12:48 (#7VGH)

Did it once with LFS ( It is fun to do. One learns quite a bit about Linux. IMHO if one wants to work a Linux system administrator it is almost a must. However, it is absolutely no fun to keep such a system up-to-date. Changing dependencies. Following security advisories. It is a full time job. As software developer I prefer a standard distribution. Which one? Don't care. As a compromise I manage my most used tools... gcc/clang/qt/cmake... myself. This way no update can unexpectedly pull the rug from under my feet. I can easily change the distribution. And I learn about possible problems in my tools, which otherwise might be hidden due to distribution specific patches.

Re: Building a custom Linux system is easy (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2015-04-27 04:48 (#7WYV)

I have to disagree with you. Yes, I have once made an LFS. So what did I learn? Nothing. Several years of Linux usage had already thaught me how to compile packages. The steps for each package is almost the same: ./configure --prefix=/whatever; make; make install.

You do not have to build a whole distro in order to learn Linux. The better way to learn Linux is to actually use it. Set a goal for what you want done and then get it done. The goal might be anything from some simple shell scripts to setting up servers.

Re: Building a custom Linux system is easy (Score: 1)

by on 2015-04-27 05:50 (#7X18)

Actually using Linux is not enough. Today's distributions are so streamlined that rarely anything goes wrong. I learn only by solving problems. No problems = no deeper knowledge. Setting up servers? Where is the problem? Most servers in most distributions come pre-configured with automatic dependency resolution. Not that I complain, that's the way it should be. When I need a server I want it fast. In the 90th one could learn plenty just by using Linux. Today? Not much more than you can learn Windows by using Windows.

And... ./configure --prefix=/whatever; make; make install. is not enough. it is the absolute minimum. But if you want more functionality, better system integration, it still is hunting dependencies, solving compatibility problems.

Re: Building a custom Linux system is easy (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2015-04-27 06:57 (#7X4C)

If all you want is a web server or openssh server, then what you wrote is true. Try to just install DNS or email servers and you will see they are not coming ready configured.

Even with modern Linuxes, I need to script almost every week. So many tasks are not done automatically. Last week I made a script backuping all Extreme switches and Zhone dslams and other network equipment (ca 50 boxes). Now I have a crontab entry backuping them daily, so whenever one of those goes down I can quickly drop in another one.

As a system administrator I have to deal with huge amount of user names. Only a crazy person would add and remove them manually with either adduser from CLI or from any GUI. I created a script parsing a text file with all names. From that text file, my script generates usernames and passwords and After adding the user to the system, it outputs to a CSV file. That way I do not have to deal with mistakes and I save a lot of work.

Before that I had to make a box for presentations. The customer wanted to have an easy way to get PowerPoint presentations running on a screen at a library. I quickly installed Linux, made some simple scripts to do an automatic TTY login, startx, running mplayer in fullscreen cycling through all files which are accessable through samba. PowerPoint got a presentation->mpg4 export built in.

These are all trivial things, but nothing a complete newbie will be able to do after going through LFS. LFS is not teaching Linux. It is teaching how to install packages. If a newbie would run a distro with limited quantity of packages, like Slackware, he would have to learn it anyway, but rather than compiling the whole system he can begin learning real Linux (= becoming fluent in CLI, scripting, configuring services, etc).

Re: Building a custom Linux system is easy (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2015-04-27 07:31 (#7X68)

I think you make a mistake. You are on a level, which is that high and certainly took quite some time to reach, that you forgot your humble beginnings. Seems to be a common trait. Happens to me, too. At first something new is difficult. Curses, when something does not work as expected, can be heard between here and alpha centauri. Finally the problem is understood and it becomes easy. And in a few years the initial problems are forgotten. :-)

Of course, installing LFS won't bring anyone even close to your level, but it is a stepping stone. And not everybody needs to setup his own DNS or email server. A web server and openssh is a nice practice, when done the first time without blindly accepting whatever is pre-defined by the distribution. But maybe LFS is doing all this now. The last time I used it was ~10 years ago.