July 28, 2009, 9:06 pm
One of the great things about Linux is that it‚Äôs possible to do almost anything with the OS ‚Äì scale it up, scale it down, customize it to suit your needs. But it‚Äôs much easier said than done. Creating your own Linux-based OS is no small feat. Or wasn‚Äôt. Using SUSE Studio, creating a custom Linux distro is so easy even I can do it.
Over the last year, a number of openSUSE contributors have had access to Studio during the beta period, and found that it‚Äôs dead easy to create custom distros using Studio. Now you can take it for a test drive yourself! SUSE Studio came out of beta today, so anyone can sign up and create a SUSE-based Linux distros. If you‚Äôre looking for an appliance, you can build using openSUSE or SUSE JeOS (Just enough OS), or build distros based on openSUSE 11.1 or SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 or 11.
It‚Äôs crazy simple to use SUSE Studio. Sign in (it supports OpenID, so a Novell account is not required) and pick your base system, the packages you‚Äôd like to add, and what type of build you want. Want to add packages or files not in the SUSE or openSUSE repositories? No problem. You can upload the files and/or scripts necessary, and add them to the distro. You can also add ‚Äúcustom‚Äù repositories out of the openSUSE Build Service.
Things get slightly more complex the more custom you want to make the distro ‚Äî but this is about as easy as it‚Äôs going to get to make your own distro. Want an Xfce live CD for openSUSE? It‚Äôs only a few clicks away. Want to create an appliance for your favorite open source project? It‚Äôs only a few steps away.
Once you‚Äôve got the packages right, just head to the ‚ÄúBuild‚Äù tab and choose whether you want a live CD, USB image, Xen or VMware image, etc. (You can have more than one ‚Äî and by default, accounts get about 15GB of storage space so you can maintain more than one custom distro if necessary or different images.)
One small step for SUSE; one giant leap for Linux
It‚Äôs always been possible to customize Linux and create specialized distros. A quick glance at LWN‚Äôs distributions page or DistroWatch will tell you that. But the time investment in being able to do so has always been a bit steep. Studio makes it deeply easy to do so, and you can leverage the updates from openSUSE or SUSE Linux Enterprise to keep your distro up-to-date. Commercial projects can work with Novell to get support for their appliances, and community projects can track openSUSE. Easy.
Check out the list of appliances on the openSUSE wiki so far. I expect to see quite a few more by the end of the week.
I spent a bit of time this morning creating a custom CD with a package I‚Äôm maintaining in my home repository in the openSUSE Build Service. In about 15 minutes, I had added the packages from the custom repository, the other packages I wanted from openSUSE 11.1, and picked the build type. Then Studio was nice enough to tell me that I also should choose the NetworkManager and YaST Installer packages, so I chose those and built the image. Nice to know I could whip up a custom distro in less time than it takes to have a coffee break!