Feb 9, 2010

A Better Way To Make Custom Live Linux CD's

Right! Of course just after I release a new version of Bauer-Puntu Linux I find a better way of making my custom live CD and USB! In fact, it uses the same back end scripts the Debian Linux team uses. The utility is called Live-Helper, and up until recently had no GUI interface to make things simple.

Well a team of Python geniuses made a GUI front end that makes building a standard ISO, USB Image, or a Netboot Tarball easy as a wizard! The GUI front end is called Live-Magic. Because Ubuntu is a Debian based distro, it is available in the Ubuntu repositories. What does that mean? It means installing it is as simple as using apt-get!

>sudo apt-get install live-magic

Here is a screen shot:

From what I can tell there are two main scripts involved with making the Live Distro. The scripts are lh_configure and lh_build. Here is what each does per their page:

lh_config Procedure

lh_config is a shell script to prepare the current directory as a workspace to build Debian Live images. It accepts a number of command line parameters (see lh_config --help) influencing the kind of image to build and other aspects of the build process, and generates configurations in the config subdirectory.

lh_build Procedure

lh_build is a shell script to automagically create Debian Live images for you. The image generation is as simple as:

  • cdebootstrap a debian standard system in a subdirectory.
  • apt-get install the linux kernel image together with squashfs, unionfs modules and the live-initramfs image generator.
  • Install the proper flavour packages with right preseeded questions.
  • Clean things up
  • Compress this rootfs as a squashfs image.
  • Copy out the kernel and initramfs image.
  • Assemble the iso, hd or netboot final image.
I am just starting to play with this tool now. So far, so good. As I am writing this, I am building a test ISO. If everything comes out well, I may be replacing Remastersys in Bauer-Puntu 10.04. I really like the idea of being able to make the ISO and USB image all in one application instead of making the ISO, then having to use Unetbootin and Roadkil's disk image utility.

What do you think? Have you tried Live-Magic? What about Remastersys or UCK? What is your favorite Live-CD creation tool? Let us know in the comments.

[EDIT] - Okay, so I was way wrong about this. The wizard is very user friendly, however nothing happens. I left this program running over night and it gets caught on the "Retrieving Release" stage forever and never progresses. Looks like Remastersys is still number 1.

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