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Education Software Linux

How to Build Your Own Linux Distribution 192

Shelly writes "Go to the source to learn Linux basics and build the right Linux for you. Linux From Scratch (LFS) and its descendants represent a new way to teach users how the Linux operating systems work. LFS is based on the assumption that compiling a complete operating system piece by piece not only teaches how the operating system works but also allows an independent operator to build systems for speed, footprint, or security."
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How to Build Your Own Linux Distribution

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  • Sanrionix (Score:5, Funny)

    by scapermoya ( 769847 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:45AM (#12733747) Homepage
    I want mine with hello kitty all over it
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:46AM (#12733750)
    With LFS reaching 6.0 a while ago, how is this news exactly?
  • :D:D (Score:2, Funny)

    by p!ngu ( 854287 )
    Step 1: Build your own linux distribution. Step 2: Distribute. Step 3: ??? Step 4: Profit!
  • Huh?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SinaSa ( 709393 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:48AM (#12733755) Homepage
    Queue gentoo fanboys...

    But seriously, LFS is new? I based my distribution on LFS, and it taught me a lot about how linux works, but this was several years ago. How is LFS new?
    • Who said news have to be about something new?
    • Its the latest marketing ploy
      Old wine in new bottle.
      from what i see, this looks like a post by an MBA! ;-)
    • Queue gentoo fanboys...

      Why fanboys? This is precisely what meta-distributions like Gentoo are for, chuck.
      Ultra-tweakers are a (vocal) minority of Gentoo users - the rest of us value Gentoo for its flexibility.
      • Why fanboys? This is precisely what meta-distributions like Gentoo are for, chuck.
        Ultra-tweakers are a (vocal) minority of Gentoo users - the rest of us value Gentoo for its flexibility.


        I couldn't have said it better. I love how people think your a fanboy if you start to speak your mind about a distribution.
    • Re:Huh?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by athakur999 ( 44340 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @09:37AM (#12735924) Journal
      I love Gentoo myself but I don't know how much it really teaches you about how Linux works. Most of the nitty gritty parts about installing packages is hidden by the Portage system. The only difference between typing in "emerge kde" vs. "apt-get install kde" is that it takes alot longer and you see a ton of compilation messages. The directory layout is chosen for you, the dependencies are installed automatically for you, etc. How much do you really learn watching hundreds of pages of GCC messages whizzing by?

  • These youngsters... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Goth Biker Babe ( 311502 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:48AM (#12733756) Homepage Journal
    I remember when rolling your own was the only way to have a distribution on some of the processors.
  • LFS.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir Pallas ( 696783 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:49AM (#12733759) Homepage
    First, Linux From Scratch has been around a long time. Back when I first started using GNU/Linux, I had RedHat installed because I recognized the name. I soon decided that I wanted something that I knew worked because the programs were compiled together, the way they were meant to be. Enter LFS. But if you've ever set up a system (especially a slow system) from scratch, it is kind of painful. My laptop was an LFS system because nothing else worked right with the hardware. But Gentoo is really not a bad solution: you get the flexibility, but all the hard, painful work is done. No more looking for hundreds of package updates, no more hand checking dependencies. LFS is a good deal for systems that are tied to very specific applications, and I learned quite a bit about the layout of the system, so I encourage everyone to take a look at LFS. But for oft used systems, it's more of a hassle than it's worth.
    • If you go beyond how long the LFS name and manual have been around, people have been doing this for longer than there have been distributions at all.
  • nice overview (Score:5, Informative)

    by professorhojo ( 686761 ) * on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:49AM (#12733761)
  • by VxJasonxV ( 792809 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:49AM (#12733766)
    It can also provide you with the most frustrating experience ever!

    Not entirely, but some broken packages (or installing one that breaks another) is probably the bane of most administrators existence...

    This is why a source hybrid (ala. gentoo) system works so well. You compile from source (reaping all the benefits) but something else manages dependancies, conflicts, ./configure options, and installation in general.

    (For the record, I used Linux From Scratch 5.0, I built my base system, then stopped before I had an x server or anything [also known as, Beyond LFS]. )
    • yeah, but if you build your own, at least you know -why- your packages are broken: you're a dumbass!

      LFS is the best way to get a fully operational linux box that will be tight, lean, and mean. okay, you have to know what you're doing.

      but .. its an interesting point that we've come so far with all these so-called 'linux people' who wouldn't touch LFS with a stick ... or couldn't, even. Re-visiting the LFS scenario every year or two, for you distro-monkeys, should be a requirement of the "Order of The Pen
      • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:51AM (#12733913) Journal
        Re-visiting the LFS scenario every year or two, for you distro-monkeys, should be a requirement of the "Order of The Penguin" membership ...

        I don't understand this "Cult of the Difficult" that seems to be very pervasive in the Open Source community. Software has always been about making the difficult easier. We design and write software to make tasks faster or more easily performed or, in some cases like the spreadsheet, possible.

        So I don't see what the fascination is with trifling with the minutia of a system just for kicks. I guess if it's for your own kicks, that's fine, but comments like yours above are very common in the computer technology industry. "If you don't understand the root of this, you will never understand this."

        Understanding every little bit of something is not a requirement for using it. For most things, it shouldn't be. And for the best-written software, it isn't. Why, then, do people think that getting your hands dirty in Linux source code is such a good thing for everyone? It seems like a colossal waste of time for most people who would rather get their work done.

        I had the same reaction when some Mac fanatic tried to tell me how much more user-friendly MacOS was in one breath and then turn around and tell someone that they need to manually increase the amount of RAM allotted to some random program in the next breath. That isn't user-friendliness. That's OS-retardation.

        A good piece of software should anticipate what you want to do and make it easy to do it. It should handle things that you don't want to handle, and it should optimize things that you do often. It should, to steal a phrase from Apple, Just Work.

        I don't want to fiddle with Linux's innards any more than I want to fiddle with my own. I am happy with GIGO and am willing to accept it as a black box, but if something goes wrong, I'd rather call a doctor who spent 8 years of their life studying the black box than trying to do that studying on my own.
        • by torpor ( 458 )
          I don't understand this "Cult of the Difficult" that seems to be very pervasive in the Open Source community.

          anything which increases the level of a persons understanding of a scenario, makes them more competent. competence in this industry is an honored and valuable condition.

          Understanding every little bit of something is not a requirement for using it

          true, the only 'requirement' is that it be working and usable in the first place. but if you're a linux person, and you like these things, you should
          • the "Cult of Ease" has resulted in countless generations of incompetent slobs unable to even wipe their own /tmp dir, let alone figure out how to reboot

            Well, why stop there? Generations of having "farmers" has made it so people can't grow their own food any more. Everybody should learn how to grow their own food, and raise their own meat. And hell, when was the last time you met somebody who could make their own clothes? I mean, everybody I know just buys their clothes. If they need a special shirt,
            • The flip side is, if one of the disaster scenarios (Y2K, Peak Oil, etc) ever actually happens, the people who don't know how to grow their own food and build their own houses are screwed, and the Amish will rule the world.
            • Aah, but there's a difference between being able to do something, and doing it. In a Linux context, I ran Slackware for the first few years; once I knew what I was doing with that system, I felt comfortable being lazy and running whatever I wanted. In a "real life" context, I don't grow my own food, because I know that letting someone else do it for me results in a more efficient allocation of my energy (and more free time for posting on Slashdot). But I could feed myself if need be. As for clothes -- they'
        • It's not the cult of the difficult, it's the cult of enlightenment, it's only difficult when you don't understand; then it is just complex.

          We, the cultists, want to know how, from step 1 to step n. Black boxes are uncut jewels waiting our favourite hammer.


        • I don't understand this "Cult of the Difficult"

          Then you are just now a nerd. Nerds value knowledge, mostly any kind of knowledge. A nerds enjoys understanding stuff, respects those who value knowledge, and despises people who don't.

          I am a nerd. You seem to be too selective about aquiring knowledge. You are not a nerd. I despiiiise you.
        • I think your missing the point.

          LFS is not for a user like yourself that does not care about the minutia, its for users who want to have a good grasp of the underlying system. You'll be amazed on how much you'll learn about Linux by piecing it together yourself. The knowledge that you gain is incredibly helpful later on as a professional when your fixing some problem with very deep causes. I strongly reccomend that any professiaonal using Linux on a regular basis install LFS. You don't need to use it f
  • This LFS project has been around for years, shall I post that this new Debian distro has just been released? Come on guys..
  • Not really that new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:51AM (#12733772) Journal
    People have been doing LFS for years. It's nothing really too new or significant.

    It's not even a really good way to learn about how "Linux the OS" works. It's just another way of spending an inordinate amount of time tinkering with your computer (not that there's anything wrong with that).

    If you want the benefits of LFS without the pain, just stick with Gentoo or Sorcerer Linux and let someone else worry about the sources. You still get the custom compilation benefits but don't have to waste time trying to track down stupid dependency problems (at least not as much as you would with LFS, but more than with a mainstream distro).
    • by irw ( 204684 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:11AM (#12733824)
      I did the installation-from-sourcecode back in in 1994 using the slackware (2.0) source set, but building manually instead of using the scripts.

      At the time I was also a modest C programmmer (2nd year at uni), and took the time to look at the internals of many of the daemons and other major components. It taught me a damn lot.

      Eleven years on... I've been a professsional unix sysadmin/engineer for around 8 years, with better understanding of unix - ANY unix, the skills are very transferable - than most others in my organisation with twice my experience, because I have an "internal" view of unix in addition to the "external" view your average admin has.

      So the exercise most definitely IS worth the effort.

      LFS is NOT about "custom compilation benefits", and is ALL about tracking down those "stupid dependency problems" in order to learn how the whole show hangs together.
    • Then again, some people don't want LFS on a different platform but "their favorite ($insert favorite distro here$) linux distro" on a different platform. Some distros are only packaged for a few architectures.

      Slightly OT, but I can remember when MS WinNT was available for the Alpha, Intel, MIPS and PPC platform.

      The real strength of linux (alright, GNU/linux) is that since source code is available for virtually everything, your favorite distribution can be built on your favorite platform. The real sticki
    • I wonder how someone who admits he doesn't know anything about the benefits of LFS can be modded informative, that's truely insane.
      If you had used LFS, you would have known that it is a book, and a book tailored to teach you specifically how "Linux the OS" works. And it works pretty well, so you are completely off-base. You thought it was a way to spend time tinkering your computer, and did not try anything, and now come saying nonsense out of hot air : this can't be serious.

      It shows you do not understand
    • yeah, except I didn't know about it 'till just now, so it's new to me and it does seem like the ultimate way to learn how the pieces go together. Thanks, slashdot!

      (yeah, see? that's my cave over there --> 3rd one on the left. what? no. no, I don't get out much.)
  • Go to the source (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:54AM (#12733779) Journal
    http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/ [linuxfromscratch.org]
    • I built a LFS box a few times. Once I got through the incredibly tedious installation process, which took several days, I was amazed to have literally the fastest booting Linux box I had ever seen before or since. If you've got very specialized needs, then LFS is definitely something you should look at. But be warned, it is not for the faint of heart, beginners, or the impatient.
  • Some info (Score:2, Informative)

    by zaydana ( 729943 )
    Since it wasn't linked in the main thingamjig, you might want to check this out: http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/ [linuxfromscratch.org] Notice, when you look at that, LFS is now at version 6.0. Solid proof that this isn't actually "new" at all. =) I can remember building LFS 3.0 actually on an old pentium 150... just made some scripts for it and left the PC on overnight.
  • by hubbah ( 635375 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @02:56AM (#12733788) Homepage
    who succeed in getting their own build running will learn a lot from this experience. The others will switch to Windows. - Hubbah
    • I built LFS (& Beyond LFS) as a newbie. At the time, it was the only way to get things to work on my laptop.

      And actually, it's very straightforward, stable, and runs *very* fast. I don't see what the big deal is really.
    • Why would "newbies" even know to try doing a source installation? It is more likely to be intermediates who will either like the experience or go back to their original distribution after realising what good value they are!

      I use Ubuntu at home and Novell Linux Desktop at work - great stuff, point and click updates on both even though one is rpm and one is deb. Having lost a day once trying to get gentoo installed, I have absolutely come to appreciate the convenience of a good distro.
      • Having lost a day once trying to get gentoo installed, I have absolutely come to appreciate the convenience of a good distro.

        To me, this is one of the spiffiest things about Free OSs. I'm in a similar position as you -- I'm a user, I want my computer to let me do the work I want or need to do. For me right now, that means Mandrake. I'd like to do a Gentoo install sometime to help me figure some more stuff out, but that would purely be as a hobby, for shits and giggles.

        GNU/Linux allows me have a funct

    • I tried LFS, and I certainly learned what Pat V. has to do to get Slackware working so well.
  • I can't wait for Microsoft's response and rebuttal entitled "How to steal an core concepts, and pass them off as your own operating system"

  • ... but seeing an article about LFS in the index section feels like travelling back in time.

    If only there were something like an article about Apple switching to Intel [com.com] below, the effect would be complete...
  • ...if you have all the time in the world. The single biggest advantage to Linux, for me at least, is that it allows me to get my job done faster and more cheaply (although I sometimes wonder if thats the case when something goes wrong).

    I think the single biggest disadvantage to Linux is the amount of knowledge needed to do most things. I have been using one version of Linux or another for about 4 years and only now do I really feel like I know how to use it. If you start telling people they have to build

    • LFS has always been aimed at people who wish to build their own linux system from the ground up. It's never been (and I shouldn't have thought it ever will be) aimed at people who just want a working system.

      Don't worry, I don't think the guys who write the LFS book will ever get the idea into their heads that promoting this to general users would be a good idea.
  • Nice to learn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyakoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:12AM (#12733828) Homepage Journal
    LFS is a nice way to learn more about Linux, I built LFS on a box a few years ago, and probably learned more about Linux doing so than I ever could have just from using it, or just from reading books targed at a specific distribution.
    That said though, I don't think it's very practicle for a system that you actually want to use for day to day use. Building a Linux system from scratch takes a lot of time, and then you have to keep track of all of the security patches for all of the packages you used, and if you want to upgrade one of the core libraries for some reason you end up having to rebuild most of the system.
    Building a distro for scratch is a fun way to learn, and I encourage hobbiests who are interested in learning how a linux system works to do so, but unless you have a critical mass of people contributing patches, helping with stuff, etc, then you end up spending all your time keeping the distro up to date, and no time actually using the system.
    Which, if your just in it for the hobbiest aspect isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I still think it's generally impracticle if you want to have an actually usuable distribution.
    • I'll need a fireproof cap for this, but I got a little of that from Gentoo.

      The difference is that Gentoo has a package manager and the way everything gets installed is pretty specific, but if you've ever been through an install you'll realize that you are quite literally starting from scratch. A stage1 Gentoo install is LFS for dummies.

      This has a lot to do with the Gentoo is for ricers thing. LFS is like going out and finding each part you'll need for your car and building the whole thing from scratch. Ge
    • Very true. I would say if you want to build a Linux system from scratch and also use it in the future, you would be better of with Gentoo. Doing a stage 1 install will let you learn a lot. Also you have a nice packaging system (portage) which does the dirty job of keeping track of dependencies etc.
    • You are right about the learning bit, but could not be more wrong about the time using the system.
      I have a LFS based distro since 2001. My family and I uses it every day since january 2001, when I switched every one to my Linux OS. It is entirely automated (with nALFS, in which I contributed in the beginning) and with package management (with paco, in which I contributed too). The most time consuming parts where at start, when I had to create all my custom XML files for apps I wanted on my OS (1200+ files).
    • Well, i've gone and used nALFS, from the Automated Linux From Scratch project. The LFS book actually is written in a custom XML dialect so that new nALFS images are automatically created from it. Then you just run nALFS, and voila, new system. Now to get a fully functional system with KDE etc, I spent a LOT of time getting my nALFS scripts set up, but now every month or so I just update the script (takes a couple hours), run it, and 15 hours later I'm running the lastest versions of everything! Pretty sweet
  • heya,

    Hmm, in reply to all those who claim that you don't learn anything, and that you're just following instructions, and who recommend Gentoo, how about putting your money where your mouth is and building it yourself? (and pasting the proof here, which will usually take the form of "oh fsck this......how do i fix this?")

    Take it from me, when you've stayed up to 2am trying to figure out why this fsck-ing package won't install, and why you keep getting "Error 1:...blah blah", then when you finally figur

    • Hmm, in reply to all those who claim that you don't learn anything, and that you're just following instructions, and who recommend Gentoo, how about putting your money where your mouth is and building it yourself? (and pasting the proof here, which will usually take the form of "oh fsck this......how do i fix this?")

      Take it from me, when you've stayed up to 2am trying to figure out why this fsck-ing package won't install, and why you keep getting "Error 1:...blah blah", then when you finally figure out why
      • Seeing how something is done does not get you any understanding on *why* it was done.

        Of course not. But then, LFS explains to you why it was done.
        LFS is a book made for that. Show me another distro that explains the importance of the "build toolchain", and how to assure its integrity. I don't know one, except LFS, and other books based on it (like DIY Linux).
        Show me other distros that explain how to compile things like glibc, how the environment must be before, and why.

        Actually, LFS is pretty useful to u
  • by surfcow ( 169572 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:14AM (#12733831) Homepage
    Next week: Fire - A How-To Guide

    (A disturbance in the force, as though an entire audience with Asperger's was thinking: "was that supposed to be funny?")

    This is humor. Laugh damnit, laugh!
  • by Shadowlore ( 10860 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:19AM (#12733843) Journal
    If you can follow directions you can get LFS up and running. That is all you need to know how to do. Complete newbies get Gentoo or LFS working simply by following directions.

    LFS is cool and has a place for those willing and able to make decisions on how base libraries and apps are compiled. Speed? Sometimes, but only of import in limited applications. None of which newbies should be involved with.

    I teach Linux use and administration, as well as security. LFS doesn't exactly provide you the opportunity to learn how to secure your system any more than SuSE, Redhat, or Gentoo for example, or even Slackware.

    Further, there are many choices you have to make right from the get go. This merely teaches you a way (assuming you are doing more than following the directions), not the way. There are few "the way it works" out there. And that is how it works on nearly all distributions. LFS provides no advantage there.

    Indeed, security-wise unless you already know what you are doing, LFS provides you a prime opportunity to leave your system open. Most modern distributions come fairly well locked down out of the box. LFS, by definition doesn't. While you are downloading the packages you are potentially exposed. So you have to follow the step by step directions. Which puts us back to merely following directions.

    When I want/need to teach people the nitty gritty, I turn to gentoo, not LFS. I gave LFS a long trial and it failed in comparison to gentoo for this purpose. I've been "doing Linux" for about ten years, so the idea behind LFS isn't new to me. Gentoo provides a solid base on which to build a custom "distribution" (it isn't a distribution if it is for your own purposes/company/use - you have to distribute it to be a distribution).

    LFS has it's place, but not as a teaching you how Linux works and how to make it fast and secure standpoint. It is mainly aimed at/useful for the hardcore or people who have very specific unmet software set needs.
  • by tannhaus ( 152710 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:21AM (#12733849) Homepage Journal
    I really don't see how anyone could use LFS as anything but "build it, learn how it works, delete it". There are so many security bugs fixed from package release to package release, it would be a full time job to keep track of all of them. Then, the ONE package you overlooked gets compromised and you're owned.
    • Stupid argument from a clueless person.
      FYI I use a LFS based OS since 2001, and I'm sure it is more up to date than any of your distros.
      FYI, there is a site called FreshMeat, where people keeps track of software changes for you. Then, you can subscribe for it to send you notices when a package is updated. That is what I use.
      I never overlooked any packages thanks to that site. I even let some Apache versions slip, because I knew that the new version did not gave me anything.
      And thanks to my LFS system, I KNO
    • There are so many security bugs fixed from package release to package release, it would be a full time job to keep track of all of them.
      To quote a good friend of mine, "There's just no substitute for knowing what you're doing." A good sysadmin reduces the security footprint of the system. It's true that it's a full time job to track every package available for Linux. My suggestion is to not install every available package.

      :w
  • Security? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xel'Naga ( 673728 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @03:27AM (#12733857)
    allows an independent operator to build systems for speed, footprint, or security.

    It's probably one of the most common security problems - making a system secure is very hard. Even security experts fail at this. Doing it yourself is only going to make you repeat the errors which have been corrected in other distros.

    The only security you could get is security through obscurity, which is not security.

  • oh wait, so is saying that...

    Anyway, does anyone know of a book like LFS except aimed at making you're own bootscripts?
  • and want to take the shortcut there's http://www.rocklinux.org/ [rocklinux.org]
  • Maintaining a Linux distro is pretty much work. You will end up with zillions of packages that YOU don't even care, but only others would like to have. Building a distro from scratch is somehow obsolete these days that we have Gentoo - which does exactly that. But all scripted. You can customize Gentoo exactly how you want it by putting your own or modified ebuilds into the overlay portage tree.
  • by oneandoneis2 ( 777721 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @04:24AM (#12733982) Homepage

    I built an LFS system a while back. It was great fun, and if nothing else, it taught me how to compile from source - something I'd always been a bit afraid of doing before. After all, if I messed up, how did I delete the files? The package manager wouldn't do it for me. . .

    Some people are saying it teaches you a lot, and others are saying it's no better than any other distro.

    I think installing LFS is like buying home gym equipment. Buying an excercise bike isn't going to make you fit, installing LFS isn't going to teach you a great deal.

    All either does is provide you with an opportunity to get what you want. You CAN use excercise equipment to get fit; You CAN use LFS to learn a lot about Linux.

    If you just follow the LFS instructions and leave it at that, you'll probably be wasting your time. If you take the time to read around what you're doing, so you understand exactly WHY you're doing what you're doing, you'll learn a great deal.

    And if you go on to Beyond LFS, you'll come to truly appreciate package managers. When you've done the "To install A, I need B, which requires C, which relies on D. . . " thing a few times, you'll REALLY understand why package management is such a big topic. The amount of running around I had to do to get FVWM running. . .

    I liked my LFS install, but once I had overcome the challenge of getting it working, it just became a chore to KEEP it working. So I switched to Gentoo, which is no effort at all to keep up-to-date.

    But I'm glad I did LFS first.

  • by Mika_Lindman ( 571372 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @04:34AM (#12734015)
    Best way to learn how Linux works is by breaking it. And then spending 3 days trying to fix it. And then breaking it again. And again. And again.

    And it's easy, all you need to do is try to get that weird piece of equipment working, or that x version of software y which isn't in your distributions repository. And Linux will break. And you'll learn it! It's great!
    • i did just that, with slackware (mandrake and redhat, which i tried before were too easy to learn anything other than what to click), i learned a lot from it too.

      im using debian now (used to use gentoo after slack) and i miss my rc.local :(
    • While it may seem like the parent poster is joking, i would have to agree with him 100%. I know personally when I started with Linux, i was basically breaking stuff daily (without trying mind you) and having to search out information on how to fix it. It is truely the best way to learn how anything works. Nowadays I see all these distributions coming out, and while they do still break from time to time, they have become so advanced and so easy to use that many people can use them now without having to o
    • I'm sure some people can twist this into an argument in favour of Windows. But my experience tells that when something breaks, in Windows you just install everything again, whereas in Linux you can fix it yourself.

      For the user, it may well be faster and more convenient to install everything again, so the merit of being able to fix things is not necessarily obvious. (Though you can reinstall Linux as well.) However, I don't want people to learn that the you can always "fix" things by replacing them with ne

  • LFS is old and has been reported on Slashdot before. And how does watching compiler output scroll past a screen teach a person how Linux works? I'm a Gentoo user myself but I admit that using Portage to install packages from source hasn't taught me anything about how Linux works. That came from reading manuals, etc. The only part of Portage that taught me anything about Linux was the broken packages. Then I'd have to track down the bugs and any patches posted for them or fix things myself.
    • So what you're saying is that using Gentoo's automated scripts never taught you anything, apart from where it was broken and you had to do it by hand, so LFS (which forces you to do it all by hand) won't teach you anything?

      I'm not following you...

      Apologies if I'm missing something (I'm not currently a Linux hacker, although LFS does look appealing in a sort of do-or-die baptism-of-fire kind of way...) but that didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me...
  • An Analogy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ann Elk ( 668880 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @06:30AM (#12734359)

    Building your own Linux distribution is like building your own airplane.

    People build their own airplanes not because they want Airplane X or Feature Y, they do it because they want to build an airplane. They want to take control of the construction process and be intimately familiar with the final product. They want to learn how the various airplane systems function. They will not necessarily learn the detailed workings of an internal combustion engine, but they will learn how it interacts with other systems.

    The same is true with LFS. If you want a generic Linux distribution, then install Fedora, Gentoo, Debian, or whatever suits you. However, if you want to build your own Linux distribution, if want to take control and be intimately familiar with the final product, then LFS is the way to go. You will learn how the various components function. You will not necessarily learn the detailed workings of the Linux kernel, but you will learn how it interacts with other system components.

  • I built a basic LFS system about a year ago. It was a very educational experience. One of the things that I learned was that current vanilla sources often won't work "out of the box". Lots of the source packages (even current versions) have to be patched to make them work on LFS. Obviously, you have to patch to fix bugs, but some of these pataches were just to get things to work at all. I didn't expect that and it was very suprising. One would think that the source's author(s) would make their stuff work "o
  • From TFA: Frank Pohlmann dabbled in the history of Middle Eastern religions before various funding committees decided that research in the history of religious polemics was quite irrelevant to the modern world.

    I wonder if that decision was made before or after 9/11...

  • This isn't logic (Score:3, Informative)

    by LinuxRulz ( 678500 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @08:20AM (#12735089)
    I find all this a bit funny. I've been asked a thousand times "which distro is the best to learn how linux works". Now, I read that LFS helps learning how the OS works. Let me disagree:
    When we look to Windows admins, do they need to install it from scratch to understand the internals and how to repair things? No!
    And that's exactly the same here. We don't need to know how to compile things to know how they interact and how to repair what's broken. Yes, you can learn to assemble an OS but WHO CARES? All the enterprises or people you'll met will ALL used canned distributions of Linux. They all have their own problems installing but also have their way to solve it.
    If you want to learn the system internal do it with a distro you like. Install packages one by one and see how they work, what they do, etc. but don't give you the trouble to compile all from scratch.

    If you are still searching problems to solve to learn something after that, check out your distro's bug tracker. I'm sure they'll appreciate you helping them solve the thousand problem there are!

  • by EdlinUser ( 50699 ) on Monday June 06, 2005 @11:38AM (#12737203)
    "How to Build Your Own Linux Distribution"

    Klaus Knopper's Knoppix has encouraged many people build their own distro. Most of these have instructions for remastering the disk and creating a personal Linux disro on a bootable CD.

    I'm fond of:

    GeeXbox - multimedia player, plays my DVDs on a old machine.

    SLAX - based on Slackware, detailed instructions for remastering. Has quite a community around it.

    Austrumi - Loads into memory and then ejects the CD. Browser, word processor, Email, multimedia, games, more. It's only a 48 M download, I love it.

    Puppy - Good reviews but doesn't work on my hardware.

    DamnSmallLinux - Fits on a miniCD. A community is growing around this one also.

  • Pretty much I just got a Linspire disk, took a sharpy to it and wrote "MY LINUX" on it.
    Worked great. Installed everything just fine, found all my device drivers, rebooted and runs great.
  • SourceMage GNU/Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Somebody here said that LFS is better when you have a script to run its installation steps overnight in unattended mode. SourceMage is this kind of script, only more. If you're keen on LFS, want to learn Linux, but don't have patience to go through mundate things (like typing ./configure approximately 1,000,000 times, including false starts), please check out SourceMage [sourcemage.org]. We won't disappoint.

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