Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Project POSSUM: LFS & SUSE studio

I've mentioned a few times that I want to make my own OS one day. I didn't realize it could be so close! I learned about something called "Linux from scratch", which is actually a book, walking you step by step on how to build and compile (or maybe compile and build) a Linux system, from scratch.

I actually got a pretty good ways into it. I did something that is actually quite hard for me, and that's sit down and read the manual. They suggested reading an article on how to compile software, that is, the basics and concepts behind it, not just the commands, like make. After I did that, I started following the guide, and I made it fairly far. I'm currently hung up on a problem, as it says that patch is not installed. I'm not sure if I'll try to retrace my steps or just start over, since it's just inside a VM.

The only thing I'm not sure of about LFS is two things:
1. I'm not entirely sure of how customizable it will be. That is, farther down the road in the book, will the author say "Install GNOME", or do I get to pick the WM/DE?
2. I'm not entirely sure of how much I'm "learning" and how much I'm just following command. I actually snagged a notebook and took notes on all that I could (like the make guide) and I do feel that I've learned plenty already, but it's mostly just things like the configure parameters. I mean, when I first read about compiling, I thought "awesome, all I have to do is run a ./configure, make, make install, and I'm good to go. Then I get back to the book where the author has three lines of mumbo jumbo that is certainly not implicitly obvious. And even if I do get a compiled system working with the apps I want, is it really worth much if I can't reproduce it without a guide, or at least understand every step?

I guess bouncing off that, I'm hoping that I will kind of do it twice, since I'm honestly not reading all of the "what these parameters means". I figure if I can get a system up and running and feel a bit more confident and familiar with all the commands, I can run through it again more thoroughly. Anyway, I'm very sad that it's screeched to a halt, but I'm not sure how to proceed. The book is very good, but if you get offtrack at all, you're kinda screwed.

After my patch error, I tried a little search on alternatives to building a system. I found a guide that listed SUSE studio, which sounds delightful. You just pick the packages you want, then download a custom ISO, live image and all. That's honestly exactly what I was thinking when I thought of googling "beginner build linux". The only downside to this is that it seems like SUSE is still installing stuff I don't want I mean, currently, it has like 1GB projected for disk space, and I am seriously at a bare bones system. Maybe I don't know enough about the topic, but I don't understand how things like DSL can be 50MB live, and mine is at least a 400MB ISO from the start. Plus, SUSE seems to be lacking in alot of stuff. I want Openbox as my WM, they didn't have it. I want Abiword, they didn't have it. I want Chromium, they didn't have it. Of course, SUSE studio is still kind of experimental, but honestly, all that would take is updating the repositories.....right?

Still dreaming,


  1. After Linux From Scratch, you can head on over to Beyond Linux From Scratch. Install anything you want. :)

    btw, the patch error means you don't have the package "patch" installed on your system.

  2. Hey Robert.

    Yeah, I noticed there's a few *LFS options in the book, I just hadn't even looked at those since I wanted to see if I could get through plain old LFS first. But thanks for the info. :)

    I understand that patch isn't installed, but I just don't understand why it isn't. I followed the guide, almost to a T, but the book never said anything about having to install patch. I'm using Ubuntu 10.04, so maybe that as my host doesn't have it installed? Maybe I'll try least before scrapping it and starting over. :)

  3. Ubuntu always comes with a few development tools not installed... Best thing to do is install patch, exit the chroot (if needed) then re-enter. (or if in chapter 5, exit and re su to lfs after install. )

  4. Ah....see, had I known that, I might have used something other than Ubuntu.

    Yeah, I'm still in chapter 5. I think I made it to Binutils pass 2. I'll try installing patch and giving it another go. :)