Customize a Distro with Remastersys
Remastersys is a complete system backup tool, but it can also be used to create your own customized remix of an Ubuntu or Debian installation. Basically, you customize a running system and create an install disk that will recreate it. If you've ever wanted to create your own distribution, you won't believe how simple this is to use. Mikebuntu, here we come...
These examples all presume that you are basing your personalized remix on Ubuntu 10.10, as there are a few extra steps involved in the creation of a Debian remix.
The approach is very simple: you install a Linux system, alter it, run Remastersys and then deploy a customized installation disk that will recreate that altered system. The installer works in the normal Ubuntu way, so any files that were lying about in your original home directory, for example, won't be copied across. This also means that each program will be installed with clean, unaltered settings. There are, however, ways of including customizations, if you need to.
One handy way of working with Remastersys is to use it with a VM such as VirtualBox. This way, you install Debian or Ubuntu within a virtual machine, customize it, and Remastersys creates the installation disk for you. There is currently a 4GB limit to the size of the ISO file that it can create, which should be sufficient in most cases.
Once you have a fresh install of Ubuntu ready, begin by adding the Remastersys repository to the file /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository karmic/
Then refresh the package list by either clicking on reload in Synaptic or by typing
sudo apt-get update
You can now customize away by adding and removing packages on the system. When you've got things how you want them, run Remastersys. Once you've installed it, using the package manager, it's located under the the Gnome system menu.
Here, you will be presented with a set of options to fine tune the installation disk. When you are ready, click on the “dist” option, and after much churning, an ISO file is created. Note that the default target location for the ISO is /home/remastersys/remastersys/, rather than in the personal home directory of the main user.
If you have carried this out within a VM, you will have to establish some sort of file sharing in order to get the ISO file back onto your host machine so that you can burn it to a disk. Boot from the disk in the normal way and you'll be presented with a fairly typical set of install options. The installation itself uses the standard Ubuntu installer.
The boot screen of a Remastersys installation disk.
This has been a quick overview of what Remastersys can do in terms of creating custom installation media. It's also a full system backup tool, and there is quite a lot of scope for further customizing the set of files that are copied during installation. Check out the Remastersys website for more details.
UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide