Home Brewed Distros

Comments, suggestions and questions about Linux Format magazine and the coverdiscs

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Would a distro building tutorial interest you?

Poll ended at Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:28 pm

Yes
14
93%
No
1
7%
 
Total votes : 15

Home Brewed Distros

Postby Debianbofh » Thu Aug 11, 2005 2:28 pm

How about an article or tutorial on making your own distrobutions. I have came across several tools for doing so, and they are easy enough to use. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of creating a distrobution is the packages included. A series looking at what packages are essential to any distro, such as shells, an editor or two etc.

What I would really like to see is a tutorial series on building a distro from scratch.

Any ideas or opinions on this. :twisted:
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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby M-Saunders » Thu Aug 11, 2005 2:50 pm

That could be really good, yep. It's quite a big job though so it'd probably have to be a series rather than a one-off tutorial.

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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:46 pm

You could devote several months to the "which editor" question :)
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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby Gordon » Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:21 pm

Or Linux Format could just put "Linux From Scratch" and "Beyond Linux From Scratch" (the books and packages) on a coverdisk. See

http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/

Having built an LFS system before I think that a series on this subject could out do the GIMP or PHP tutorials as being the longest running tutorial series :lol:

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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby alloydog » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:38 pm

I think it could centre around describing the things you need to consider, rather than the actual content of the distribution. For example, who is the target audience? Who would you expect to install it? Most distributions, such as SuSE, use a graphical installation interface, where as Slackware still use their time honoured text based one. Also, some install after booting from a live CD to a running system, such as Beatrix, whilst others, like the afore mentioned SuSE and Slackware, boot from an installation CD/DVD and go straight to the installation routine. Take installing new software. Do you use a graphical package manager, such a RPM or Synaptic, or will it use a command line application such as apt-get?

All three examples of distributions I gave have different target audiences. So, I feel a HOWTO could/should be more like a HOWTO plan it, rather than HOWTO make it.
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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:09 pm

It could also cover "why do it". There are lots of distros already, so you would need to have some fairly special requirements to create your own from scratch. Identifying those requirements should help answer most of the planning questions.
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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby A-Wing » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:25 pm

I think it is more to learn the inner workings of Linux, although I think people pray with Gentoo and Slack for that.
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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:50 pm

That's one possible reason, but not the only one. Hence the need to address the "why".

Your suggestion is also unsuitable for atheists :)
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RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby jjmac » Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:40 am

Sounds good to me ... as a generic, non-specialist focus. Just how to build a basic base system from which it can be branched into various specialisations. The init and basic networking roles ... It also sounds like a wrapper tutorial for other aspects, such as compiling src and resolving dependencies, how shared objects work and their comunication techniques.

As already mentioned too, there is LFS, so ... maybe something that could work as an overview to that project. As a Linux mag, a series on a topic that acts as a comparative/clarification tie in for other existing similar info sources, would seem to be something in the right direction. Maybe with reader interaction involved, to help direct the tone of the series.


>>
I have came across several tools for doing so, and they are easy enough to use.
>>

Then they could be compared ...


>>
A series looking at what packages are essential to any distro,
>>

In other words ... the basic underlying interdependant structure.

nelz:
>>
You could devote several months to the "which editor" question :)
>>

Not if you just seetle for emacs, then not only do you have an editor, but a whole OS within an OS. All emacs really needs is to have a kernel attached to it and there you are :)


>>
It could also cover "why do it". There are lots of distros already, so you would need to have some fairly special requirements to create your own from scratch.
>>

hmmm, well, maddness is a good excuse ... isn't it ? Besides, the other distros wouldn't have gotten built if no one crazy enough bothered to experiment and find out, because there was already an availability.

>>
Identifying those requirements should help answer most of the planning questions.
>>

No ... well, maybe ... specialisation wouldn't be part of the focus, it removes the "device independances aspect" ... the basics would be extensive enough ... as suggested in terms of LFS ... something that was complementery to that project, and other related things/tools.

A bugger of a thing to co-ordinate though :D, one would really have to love their subject .. but, is there doubt there (grin).


jm


PS:
Yaaa 85% to 14% for, that's a very SCOish way of interpretation though. It's really 6 to 1 for. Still a good sign but :)
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Postby Erin » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:42 am

Right, have had an idea which would benefit all I think. It is superb. Well, okay anyway.

Nelz asks why build a distro from scratch. Let's build, as a community, a LXF distro. Why? Well, apart from gaining intimate knowledge of the inner workings, we would also learn about packages, how to configure daemons, config files, choose packages carefully, gain a wider appreciation of computing, group working, documentation writing and give our knowledge back to the community as a whole.

So my suggestion is LXFC Distro. Based on the non-standard applications, i.e. no VI or Emacs (nano for example as a choice), and choose only one example of each application but make it extensible by offering a decent repository for users to personalised. Lightweight desktop (no GNOME/KDE or relevant apps) with complete user friendly documentation (plus the normal man, info etc.).

The benefit to Future/LXF. A long running series explaining how to compile, configure and tweak Linux and provide a highly productive desktop/server from alternative tools we wouldn't normally consider. Also, allows security, file perms, system cosiderations and so forth. Plus it'll get us, the community more involved with our favorite mag and as I've said, give back to the world en masse.

How about it? LXFC v1.0 to hit the mirrors in 12 months?

Erin

PS: I am really excited about the prospect of this. I think it could be great.
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Postby Erin » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:45 am

Oh, as an aside, vote is now 7:1 with 87% plus 12% = . . . ~100% :-) Intel based FP calcs I see :lol:
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Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:56 am

jjmac wrote:nelz:
>>
You could devote several months to the "which editor" question :)
>>

Not if you just seetle for emacs, then not only do you have an editor, but a whole OS within an OS. All emacs really needs is to have a kernel attached to it and there you are :)


What about an editor though? Emacs is often described as an OS looking for a decent text editor :D

jjmac wrote:hmmm, well, maddness is a good excuse ... isn't it ? Besides, the other distros wouldn't have gotten built if no one crazy enough bothered to experiment and find out, because there was already an availability.


Most "new" distros are forks of existing ones. Gael Duval wanted Red Hat with KDE so he created Mandrake. Mark Shuttleworth wanted Debian with a release cycle that wasn't tied to leap years, so he created Ubuntu, etc.

jjmac wrote:>>Identifying those requirements should help answer most of the planning questions.
>>

No ... well, maybe ... specialisation wouldn't be part of the focus, it removes the "device independances aspect" ... the basics would be extensive enough ... as suggested in terms of LFS ... something that was complementery to that project, and other related things/tools.


Yes... well, really :)

You can't take on a task like this without proper planning, and you can plan until you know what you are trying to achieve. However, "because I can" is as good an answer as any, as long as you understand that.
Last edited by nelz on Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby Debianbofh » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:06 am

why build your own distro? Well if you're like me then you get sicka and tired of distros balloning to a dozen CDs or a couple of DVDs, so they can include about 30 web browsers and several dozen audio players. Why not build a distro which supplies a base system containing perhaps 1GB of software, then make other packages available on CD "Sets" such as games, engineering software, office apps etc. This would help with the bandwidth problems encountered when downloading and would also speed up installation. A series in the Mag, even if some of it had to be put on the DVD as ps or pdf files would be cool, especially if it covered building a base system
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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby A-Wing » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:15 am

Isn't this pretty much what Ubuntu or similar single CD based (non-live) are though?
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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:21 am

Or Debian, which starts with a pretty minimal setup then lets you choose what you want.

Even the likes of FC4 and Mandriva will let you do a minimal install, provided you take a couple of minutes to unselect all the things they select by default.
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