Remastering PCLinuxOS

Offering tools for remastering PCLinuxOS has encouraged users to create their own custom versions of PCLinuxOS. In many cases, those users have made their remasters available to others. That gives you the opportunity to try out versions of PCLinuxOS that include different desktop environments or special sets of applications.

The DVD that comes with this book includes the official PCLinuxOS live CD, which offers a KDE desktop by default. That and other official remasters are available from official PCLinuxOS download sites such as the following:

http://ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/texstar/pclinuxos

Official remasters include

• pclinuxos. Includes a KDE desktop (about 690MB)

• pclinuxos-gnome. Includes the GNOME desktop (about 674MB)

• pclinuxos-lxde. Includes the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (about 313MB)

• pclinuxos-minime-kde3. Includes a stripped-down KDE desktop (about 298MB)

• pclinuxos-minime-gnome. Includes a stripped-down GNOME desktop (about 361MB)

Other community-sponsored remasters include PCLinuxOS Xfce (www.cozmodesigns.co.uk/ xfce/download.htm) and Business Edition Linux PCLinuxOS (http://belproject.org).

Creating your own custom remaster of PCLinuxOS is actually quite simple. The result is that you can gather up your running PCLinuxOS system (including all applications, settings, and data) and store that data to a single ISO image that you can burn to CD or DVD and run later.

Most of the procedure centers on the mklivecd command. Beyond that, all you need to do is set up your PCLinuxOS system as you like it. Here are the steps for creating your own remastered PCLinuxOS:

1. Boot up. Boot PCLinuxOS. You probably want to do this procedure from an installed system, rather than from the live CD (unless you have lots of RAM available to offer all the space needed for the remaster procedure).

2. Set up. Install the software, data files, and settings you want to keep on your live CD. A standard DVD can hold about 4GB of data, whereas a CD holds about 700MB of data. For the DVD, that means you can have up to about 12GB of uncompressed data. If you have the ability to burn dual-layer DVDs, you can store a little less than twice that.

3. Clean up. Clear out all the junk from your system before you burn your live CD. Here are some suggestions:

• Don't empty /tmp directories (those are ignored anyway).

• Do clear out things like cached data from your web browser, thumbnails from image applications, and your desktop trash can.

• Check to see how much space has been used by hidden directories within your home directory. For example, type du -sh /home/guest/.* to see space being used by WINE (.wine), Thunderbird, and Firefox (.mozilla).

• Unmount any temporarily mounted file systems, such as those from a CD, USB key, or remote system (such as an NFS mount).

• Check again that everything on your local system is alright to have on your live CD. For example, if you plan to share this live CD with others you probably want to make sure that any private files or privacy data (such as stored passwords or cached URLs you have visited) are cleared away.

4. Check available disk space. Make sure that you have enough space on hard disk to not only hold the resulting ISO image, but also the temporary files needed to create that image. The space should not be on a Windows FAT partition.

For example, to create a 4GB DVD image you should have at least 8GB of disk space available. Half of that space must be available from your /tmp partition, because the remastering tool uses that space to store temporary files, and half must be available in the directory where you will store your ISO.

5. Start the remaster. To begin the remastering process, select the menu button on the lower-left corner of the screen and choose System CMakeLiveCD and type the root password (or run make LiveCD from the Utilities folder). After a warning about disk space you are asked whether you want to provide advanced options.

6. Add advanced options. Click Yes to look at advanced options. If you like you can do such things as force a 1024 X 768 screen resolution or embed md5sums of each stored file on the CD. Type in those options, when prompted, and click OK to continue. You are prompted to provide the name and location for the resulting image.

7. Name the ISO image. Select the name of the ISO and the folder in which it will be stored. This folder can be anywhere that can hold the full size of the resulting ISO image. Click OK when you are ready.

At this point, the remastering process begins. You can watch as an initial RAM disk (initrd) is created, filesystem parameters are set, and the compressed image is created. When the process is done, a new ISO image should be stored in the location you named.

With the ISO image complete, you can test it, if you like, before burning it to CD. Use Synaptic to install the qemu package. Then run a qemu command similar to the following, replacing the name and location of the new ISO image with the name you used.

# qemu -cdrom /root/remaster.iso

You should see a QEMU window displaying your PCLinuxOS boot screen that is similar to the one shown in Figure 25-4.

Click your mouse in the QEMU window and select which entry to boot. Because you are running the image entirely in available memory, it will probably run much slower than the resulting ISO will eventually run from CD or DVD. When you have tested your ISO image, press Ctrl+Alt to release your mouse so you can start using the desktop again.

When you are satisfied that the ISO image works, you can burn that image to CD or DVD using a tool such as k3b or cdrecord. With the image burned to the medium, insert that CD or DVD to a computer's drive and reboot. If all went well, you should be running the same operating system (including its data and settings) that you had when you ran the remaster process.

FIGURE 25-4

Test your remastered PCLinuxOS system ISO with qemu before you burn it to CD.

Test your remastered PCLinuxOS system ISO with qemu before you burn it to CD.

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