How to create your own Linux install image

I was reading this google+ post by Linux’ very own Linus Torvalds. One of the comments reads “I feel like Mom and Dad are fighting. I love Fedora and I love Linux :)” Clearly, Linux distributions come with their own specific set of packaging rules and guidelines. Sometimes, it does not make sense to everyone. And when that someone else is Linus, people will go ‘bonkers’ to either agree or disagree with him. But why the noise?

To any one who’s not ventured into the murky waters of Linux kernel building and packaging, you may be wondering why a topic like this one solicits such responses even if its not coming from the man who invented Linux. Believe me – it is a big deal.

Due to the rapid development of open-source software, the Linux kernel and packages on the original CD/DVD images tend to become outdated over a short period of time. Sometimes, those packages become insecure and vulnerable. Furthermore, with all the latest and cool hardware devices that vendors are producing every other day, the Linux kernel has to be upgraded so as to be fully usable by those devices.

So in my opinion, Linus Torvalds is half right, since non-techie users need to get Linux working straight out of the box. My feeling though is that the main distros are really not meant for the Linux newbies. That is why re-spins seem to be a lot popular with new Linux users. So if you made it this far and are still reading this, how do you go about creating a re-spin? Here is one way:

Lately, I’ve been spending sometime, creating customized versions of the Fedora Linux images. I use these Fedora re-spins for the embedded products I’ve been working on such as the JambulaPi, TV STB etc. BTW, these re-spins of Fedora are open source and free, so I plan on posting them to a public site in a not too distant future!

A very useful tool for creating custom images for Fedora Linux is called livemedia-creator. Livemedia-creator uses Anaconda, kickstart and Lorax to create bootable media such as live iso’s that use the same install path as a normal system install.

To install it:

sudo yum install lorax

Then, take a look at the readme file located at /usr/share/doc/lorax-*/README.livemedia-creator. There you will find examples on how to set up your very own customized Linux distribution. A kickstart file is highly recommended as you can add other repositories for installing software that is not originally included in the Fedora releases. Also, it lets you do things like adding initial users, etc. Take a look at Kickstarting Fedora Linux installations.

How to create your own Linux install image

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