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How hard would it be to make a Linux distro (based or not on another distro)?

post #1 of 12
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I'm going to have to do a school project this year, and I've been thinking of doing a Linux distro.
I'll probably base it of another distro like Ubuntu, Debian or Fedora, or just make it from scratch if it's not too hard.

The goal will likely be to have it installed on the school's computers, with software that's useful for students and teachers.

Also, if anyone can provide me with tutorials, or tips, or something along those lines, that would be really nice as I don't know where to start.

Note that I do have some Linux experience, although it really is nothing special, just basic stuff mostly, but I'm willing to learn whatever is needed.
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post #2 of 12
You have a fair number of options available, ranging from simple to complex. Obviously the simple ones wouldn't net you as high a mark, as using a website to make one really won't be too difficult. But for that, there is SuSE Studio (you'll need to create an account).

This page lists a few options that could be available to you, depending on the route you choose...

Or my personal favourite, Linux from Scratch. Not for the faint of heart - I've gotten to various stages of this over the years, and then run out of either inclination or time to finish. Eventually, I just went the 'build a system from a commandline distro' (I chose Arch) route.

But it can't hurt to download and read the LfS/BLfS PDFs - there is a wealth of information in them.
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post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiZ51 View Post
I'm going to have to do a school project this year, and I've been thinking of doing a Linux distro.
I'll probably base it of another distro like Ubuntu, Debian or Fedora, or just make it from scratch if it's not too hard.

The goal will likely be to have it installed on the school's computers, with software that's useful for students and teachers.

Also, if anyone can provide me with tutorials, or tips, or something along those lines, that would be really nice as I don't know where to start.

Note that I do have some Linux experience, although it really is nothing special, just basic stuff mostly, but I'm willing to learn whatever is needed.
Ubuntu Live CD from scratch

Like the poster above me stated, it is as difficult as you want to make it. if you want a full blown "custom" distro, where you compile it all from source, with your own patches and compilation flags or if you want to start with a basic distro and just determine the preinstalled software, look and feel of the DE you choose.

i've given lfs a shot from time to time. its not just time consuming, it is very technical, and i pride myself on my linux knowledge and programming skills and this was one "project" that was beyond me, so this is what i did when i did a similar project, i grabbed the source for slackware, along with its build files (called slackbuilds) and adjusted them where i needed to, and built the system using those. (it was a lot easier imho, to adjust those scripts, than creating them, as i was doing essentially the same thing slackware had been doing for years, once i looked at their scripts, they were very similar to what i was beginning to do, and i am a man who believes why re-invent the wheel?).

if you have any questions along the way, ask them, i'm sure some one here will answer them.
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post #4 of 12
I'd suggest SLAX as a starter for 10 - it doesn't really have anything that the others don't (except the lack of dependency resolution, which is something you shouldn't use as a distro maintainer). The website is nice and easy, and it'll output an ISO customed for you. It's not strictly a new distro, but it'll give you an idea of what packages you'll need to include to get a working system. You could try Arch, but I'm not sure what there is in terms of repackaging a system into a liveCD. SliTaz has repackaging tools, but it's repos are pretty tiny, so you might struggle with that one. But it's designed for it, so you might get lucky if all the packages you need are present.

That said, there is a difference between making a liveCD/DVD, and creating a new distro. A distro tends to have it's own repositories, so that it can maintain versions of software independent of anyone else. A distro will use it's own artwork to provide identity, and also a website furthering that identity. There are lots of Ubuntu derivatives, but I'm not sure what Ubuntu has that the upstream source doesn't. I don't see why Slack, Arch & Gentoo don't have equally as many derivatives, unless it comes down to packaging.

Baby steps first though, get a Slackware, Arch, or Gentoo install done (in a VM if you have to), it'll teach you about some of the inner workings of Linux, as well as packages and their inter-dependencies, and build chains. Sorry if you've already done this, you weren't clear in your original post
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post #5 of 12
Chemicalfan made some good points. Generally distro's have their own package management system and repositories. Making a distro from one that has a well developed package manager (like debian/ubuntu or fedora) would alleviate these issues.

Like all the others had said, it all depends on how deep you want to go. You can just go the easy way by taking away from other well done distros, or you can build from scratch. That would be the hardest.

Personally, I find doing something like this very difficult, and actually before doing this I would want to try linux from scratch because there are still things I am completely unfamiliar with, like things regarding the kernel as well as many basic processes. Chemicalfan recommended trying an Arch/Gentoo/Slackware distro, and I will too recommend that you get one up. It will help you understand what packages you'll need (apart from the extremely basic packages that are already installed) that you will need to install to get a good system going with all the bells and whistles.
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post #6 of 12
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post #7 of 12
I remember a while ago I compiled my own distro from source and packaged with it with GNOME 2.32, then wrote a simple package manager that downloaded and installed tarballs from a specified URL. It really wasn't that hard, most of the time spent was compiling (it takes a while to compile X.org, GNOME, etc. from source) and in the end I got a really nice system that I made by myself.

That said, if you have the time and patience, maybe a few weeks, you could compile your own distro from source, and Linux from Scratch has wonderful documentation that will guide you through the whole process.

If you need alot of software available, ready to run however, I'd reccomend that you respin a distro like Debian. That would involve just changing stuff around so it has whatever branding/applications you want, then you create a LiveCD/DVD out of that.
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post #8 of 12
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post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by lloyd mcclendon View Post
oh my god...

hahahaha xD

that is far too funny a little off topic... but still hilarious lol...

i bet that experiment lasted a year... maybe 2 years at best... lol
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, so much info! I swear, the Linux community is probably one of the best communities out there for getting help.

Anyway, I'm going to start working. I've decided to go with an Ubuntu base, and make a fork out of it.
I would actually prefer to work with an Arch Linux base, as that's what I prefer when I use Linux at home, and I think that's what I'm most familiar with (nothing special though, but I can easily install it and configure it to my needs, and other stuff like that).

I'm not going with Arch because it's probably pretty complicated for doing a fork out of it, or at least that's what I think. And besides, since this is a distro oriented for anyone to use, it's probably better to use Ubuntu because it's easier to use for other people.

I do have some questions at the moment though, if you guys don't mind helping out.
For example, how do I start? I think I'm going to use this manual to build it.
I don't know if that's enough though, and it seems a bit confusing to me.

Like, what am I supposed to have installed on my machine and/or ready to use? If possible, I would like to able to work both on my PC at home, and on the school's computers.
I'm a bit clueless here lol.
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