Linux Distribution From Scratch – The Simplest Guide

Build a New Linux Distribution from Scratch

Linux is an open source, free and community supported operating system that has been around for more than 2 decades now. It currently dominates the world of the Internet; most of the servers run Linux. In case of the Network or System Administrator, Linux is the Operating system of choice. It gives something to the end user that few other operating systems provide – the power to customize, make and break anything.

Since the Linux source code is free and open source, countless distributions already exist. You can of course download any of them and get a taste of Linux if you have never been introduced to it before. But if you are already acquainted with Linux sufficiently well, and wish to go a step further, this series is for you. You can (with little guidance) build your own operating system.

Why build it when there are free, customizable options already available?

This is a good question. Linux as an operating system (and practically all its distributions) is very customizable in any case. Starting from the Desktop Environment to individual programs – the end user has full freedom to add/modify anything as per individual requirements.

But even then, to truly create a customized experience every time you install any distribution requires a significant effort. If you create a bare-bones system from scratch, removing unnecessary applications is no longer needed. This will help you create end use specific distributions. For instance, if you need a simple File Sharing Server for your home systems, you don’t need the LibreOffice applications at all.

Linux Distribution from Scratch
Get ready to build your own Linux Distribution from Scratch

The major advantages to building your own Linux distribution from scratch

Briefly, the advantages of building your own Linux distribution from Scratch are the following –

  1. You get to learn how an operating system works ‘inside out’. Learn how the storage works, how memory management is done, how the peripherals speak to each other and so on.
  2. You have total control over your system. If you have privacy issues, you may skip installing any application that has any issues in that respect.
  3. You folks are free to create very compact distributions. Such distributions already exist to an extent. But you can crunch them further.
  4. If you understand the source code well, you can check the code and fix security vulnerabilities. Before packing anything in the archive, you can check if they are in good shape. You can fix them yourself and ship with your default package if patches are available.
  5. Understand that most popular Linux distributions actually started this way.

The way ahead …

The next posts will follow a series format. There will be episodes. We will be starting with the Architecture, then the pre-requisites, package installations, configurations and so on.

If you are experienced, you may skip a few chapters here and there, but the continuity may be missing in some cases. I will still try to keep them (the chapters) as modular and independent as possible.

To get started, make sure you have the pre-requisites in place. Then download these and keep them handy. After you are set, you can take a leap of faith and begin building the platform/build environment itself.

References

This is going to be a liter version of the famous Linux From Scratch pages that are hosted here. Though they are great, they do require users with a decent knowledge of UNIX/Linux systems before getting in trying to make one. This project of mine is an attempt to simplify the process and make the knowledge transfer easier and faster, at the expense of some detail.