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Live Linux CDs

© November 2006 Anthony Lawrence


I've booted a few live CD's, but I can't say I've ever really done much with them. I know that there are some specialized recovery and debugging cd's that I probably should take the time to get familiar with, but like so many other things, I just haven't gotten around to it.

I also have thought that I'd like to learn how to make a live cd.. for one thing it would let me carry the tools I like with me wherever I go, and I'd also like to put my Tests out in that format. I briefly looked into it, and either didn't find what I needed or got confused by something - I don't remember what it was, but that got put on the back burner also.

Two things recently occurred coincidentally that re-aroused my interest. The first was a comment at The unimportance of Linux OS and why you don't care that referenced a company called rPath that provides tools for creating virtual appliances. They have an interesting business model (quoting from their FAQ):

Using rBuilder Online, developers can create software appliances and unique Linux distributions as long as they make their work available for free download from rBuilder Online. For commercial application providers who do not want to offer their products for free download, we sell software appliance versions of rBuilder that may be deployed on-site.

Hmmm.. maybe I'm not the only one who has struggled with the "create a live cd" concept..

But that very same day brought a surprise in the mail: the book I'm reviewing here. This has a DVD containing a number of live cd's and a boot loader that lets you run some of them by booting the DVD, and three or four chapters describing how to use and customize them. If that's all the book was, I probably wouldn't have been very interested, but the bulk of it actually deals with creating your own Linux live CD's: Knoppix, Fedora and Gentoo versions are covered. Needed tools like a kadischi rpm for Fedora are included on the DVD.

As I'd recently done an FC6 install, I decided to give that a whirl. There were quite a few small errors in the book, but nothing was serious, a little thinking put me on the right path, and this was a draft pre-publication version. I followed the directions but very soon found out why I had abandoned my previous efforts to do this: I don't have enough free disk space to hold everything I need AND create the .iso file!

Well darn. Ayup, I remember now: that's why I had to put it aside previously. I do have another machine with more space, but it doesn't have a CD or DVD burner on it. I do have a spare DVD burner too, but that's in another machine.. it's the typical story of having to do way too much before I can even get started with what I really want to do.

Aww, the heck with it. It's a rainy day, there's nothing too urgent right this minute, maybe I'll just sit down and read the rest of this book.


So I did that, and returned to try to make a DSL live CD by following the directions in the book.. well, I *did* get the CD working, but I don't think I had much help from this book: the instructions again were wrong and confused. Fortunately I found Remastering DSL: A Short HOWTO with a Long Preamble, which was much closer, and with a bit of playing I was finally succesful.

I do not know if I can recommend this book. If they fix up all the mistakes and omissions before publication, it may be great. It seems like it needs more than a little work right now though, so I'm doubtful.

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Fri Nov 17 17:59:04 2006: 2626   TonyLawrence

Later I realized that all I needed was to build the iso on the machine with disk space and then I could transfer it to the machine with the burner.. so I tried that. Everything seemed to go well, but the resulting iso dies part way through its boot.. That was Fedora/Kadischi; I'll try Knoppix..

Fri Nov 17 18:15:04 2006: 2627   infinity

Hi Tony,
Even I am interested in creating a Live CD with materials that will be helpful for learners. Is it okay if we together on something to create a live CD? Would you be interested? I was thinking of revisiting linux from scratch and this time going to the extent of creating a live cd of the compiled linux with scratch version with learner materials.


Fri Nov 17 18:17:09 2006: 2628   TonyLawrence



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