2 Tools to Build Your Own Customized Linux Distribution

If you’ve been using Linux, you would know how greatly flexible it is. You can add or remove any part of the OS, if you know how to do it. It is also the best learning place for Computer Engineers, because studying Linux and it’s functions will help you understand how the computer works. Though building Linux from scratch is a difficult task and it is a mammoth task to be taken only by geeks. But what if you want to build your own customized linux distribution but you are no geek ?

We have an answer for you. There are a few tools available, that’ll help you to build your own customized linux distribution through a graphical user interface and sans coding. Excited ? Read below.

Build Your Own Customized Linux Distribution

As stated above, we’ve two tools that’ll help you do it.

  1. The More Powerful SUSE Studio, which lets you customize almost anything on a base version of OpenSUSE.
  2. The second one is the newer, Ubuntu Builder, which will help you customize an Ubuntu distribution. It is not as robust as the SUSE studio, but will be useful if you’ve used Ubuntu before.

SUSE Studio

  1. You’ve to create an account with SUSE Studio before you use it. Just head over to SUSE studio and click on the sign in or create an account button to create an account. You can use Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter or any other OpenID provider or create a new Novell account.
  2. After creating an account and logging in, you’ll be asked to choose a base template. You’ll have different options like GNOME, KDE or even JeOS over the latest version of OpenSUSE and SUSE linux Enterprise. Choose the one you want. GNOME, KDEetcetera are user interfaces. If you are not sure about them, then Google it before using it.
  3.  If you scroll down, you’ll be asked to choose your Architecture where you’ll have to choose if you want to build a 32-bit or 64-bit version of your OS. You’ll also be asked to choose a name for your new OS, the name can be changed later, so don’t worry about it. Now click Create Applianceonce done. SUSE studio calls each bootable system you create,  an “appliance” throughout the process.
  4.  The real fun begins now, All that goes into your OS, can be chosen right from here. Click on the Software tab to see what you’ve already added, this is based on what you chose in the previous step, these are the files required for the boot up. Now you’ve options to search for and add applications that you want in your own distribution. You can search for it or simply browse through the software collection that is neatly organised into categories.If you want to add Mozilla Firefox or any similar program, just search for it in the search bar and you’ll see the results, instantly below. You can click on the +add button and the software along with the other required stuff will be added to your distro.
    But, What if you don’t see something that you know runs on Linux—like, say, Google Chrome? Find an RPM-formatted package and add in a repository URL that carries regular updates. A decent Google search for the keyword “Name of your program and OpenSUSE” should get you the thing. Hit the “Upload  RPMs…” link near the top of the Software page, and you’ll be able to upload it from your computer, or through an URL to the resource online. What’s really neat is, once you upload your RPM files, you’ll have a special repository created for you that can be loaded into any system you build with SUSE Studio.

  5. After adding all the softwares of your choice, head over to the Configuration tab to change the look and feel of your new Distro. You’ll have to start with Generaltab. Here you’ll find options to Language, time zone, network, firewall and users & groups settings. It is quite simple and self explanatory.
    Next stop is at the Personalizetab. This one will help you make your Linux distribution, more yours. You’ll have options to change the Logo and background wherever it’ll be used like the boot selection and login pages.Then at the Startup tab, you can choose to display an EULA and what type of login you want for your users. The server tab helps you setup PostgreSQL and MySQL, but we don’t think we would be needing them for now.  In the Desktop tab you can choose to login a user automatically for faster startup times, you can also choose what programs will run during startup. The Appliance tab lets those planning to install to a disk or USB drive, or run in a virtual machine, fine-tune their memory and disk use settings. and  get into the Scripts and Files tab only if you have a good knowledge about Linux.
  6. Go to the Buildtab let’s you pick the format you would like to download, whether an ISO or a disk image or a ready-made virtual machine file for VirtualBox or VMWare. Choose your format, set a version number for your distro, and that build will always be available for downloading or cloning  it later for another new distro.

    If you are not so sure about what to do with the files you just received ? Here’s SUSE Studio’s guide to using SUSE Studio appliances. If you want to try out your custom Distro before installing it on your system, SUSE Studio lets you run your custom-built appliances on their own virtualization servers, for up to one hour, for free. Hit the “testdrive” link on one of your builds, and wait for it to boot up.

Hope that guide helped you to build your own customized linux distribution. Now, let’s take a look at the Ubuntu Builder.

Ubuntu Builder

Ubuntu is the most used distribution of Linux as of now. But, more people are shifting to mint, since when Ubuntu started using the Unity interface. If you like Ubuntu, but want to change the look and feel of it and the default apps that it come with, then Ubuntu Builder can help you with that.

Ubuntu Builder is a very simple to use software. Launch it up in any version of Linux and give it an Ubuntu ISO to tweak. You can choose from a number of alternative desktop environments, like GNOME, LXDE, KDE etcetera, as well as add your favourite applications to be installed along with the OS. You can also add other sources to synaptic, give your distribution a name, and more.

When you’re done, just build the ISO and you can install your custom version of Ubuntu on any computer. It isn’t quite as powerful  as the SUSE Studio, but it’s best suited for Ubuntu fans who want something a bit more tweaked to their liking.

Hope this guide helped you to build your own customized linux distribution. If you’ve any doubts in the process, do drop a comment and we’ll help you out. If you liked the article, don’t forget to share it with your friends ! 🙂