Create Your Own Linux Desktop and Take It with You

 in
Configure your own custom desktop and plug it in to any PC to re-create your working environment wherever you go.
Stage 4: Build Your Distribution

Build distro is the final tab that uses all of the collected configuration and packages to build your custom distribution. You get a chance to choose simplified filenames on this tab, but reading the quite thorough Help file, there doesn't seem to be a solid reason for doing so. Clicking on BUILD DISTRO starts the build. As the build proceeds, you are given some options (moving modules to a separate file to improve boot time, default theme, text shadowing, Xorg drivers and executable stripping). You can experiment or take the default (the prompts will tell you if the default is not safe). When the .iso file is complete, you have the option of burning a CD—you'll need it, even to make a USB key. Then, you're asked if you want to build a devx file, which you'll need if you plan to do compiles and builds with your distribution. When the script is done, you'll find your distro's .iso (and the .iso's MD5) in the directory sandbox3.

Figure 12. Build Distro

Stage 5: Install Your Distribution on a Bootable USB Key

Puppy Linux includes a USB drive installer that's very easy to use, but it knows how to install only the version that is running. That's why you needed to make a CD of your distro earlier. Boot that CD and plug in a USB drive. Click on install on the desktop. Choose Universal Installer from the first page.

Figure 13. Puppy Universal Installer

Click OK twice. The dialog is self-explanatory, with options to correct things should a problem arise, and plenty of confirmation before actually writing to the USB drive.

Congratulations, you've just created your own Linux distribution, which you can hang on your keyring and boot on just about any PC you find. As long as the PC has at least 256MB and can boot from USB, you can boot your Linux desktop, do your work and not affect the underlying system.

So, there are several ways to get Linux on your keyring:

  • Use the USB drive version of a major distro.

  • Use a smaller, compatible distro, like Puppy Linux.

  • Create your own unique distro using Woof.

With that many options, you can trade-off customization against effort to get exactly the right solution for your needs.

Rick Rogers has been a professional embedded developer for more than 30 years. Now specializing in mobile application software, when Rick isn't writing software for a living, he's writing books and magazine articles like this one. He welcomes feedback on the article at portmobileapps@gmail.com.

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Rick Rogers has been a professional embedded developer for more than 30 years. Now specializing in mobile application software, when Rick isn't writing software for a living, he's writing books and magazine articles like this one.

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