From Bo ys to Men
The scripts in this feature will help you turn your installed flavour of Linux into a distributable medium that you can then pass around. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you really want to get a feel for what it takes to create a custom distribution, from the grounds up, then you need to lock yourself in a room for a week with a copy of LinuxFromScratch ( www.linuxfromscratch.org). LinuxFromScratch or LFS as its popularly known, is actually a book, which painstakingly hand-holds you through the time-consuming process of putting together your own Linux distribution. The book’s offered as a free download and you can even grab a printed edition at the bookstore. Once you’re through with LFS, you’ll end up with a system that’s very secure, very flexible and also very compact.
But the process doesn’t stop here. As per the LFS FAQ ( www. linuxfromscratch.org/faq), “LFS is not intended to create your system as you want it. It’s intended to be just enough to allow you to build your system as you want it. It’s not an end, it’s a beginning. When you’re done with LFS, you’ve just started building your system.”
This is where BeyondLinuxFromScratch or BLFS ( www. linuxfromscratch.org/blfs) comes into thet picture. BLFS is a much bigger manual that covers everything from installing system libraries to programming utilities, from network libraries to server applications, from simple and lightweight window managers like fluxbox to complex but popular ones such as KDE and Gnome.
The project was started in 1999 when its author, Gerard Beekmans, wanted to learn how a Linux distro works behind the scenes. While building his system from scratch, Beekmans wrote down the steps and released it as a how-to, thinking that there would probably be other people who would be interested.
LFS has grown quite a bit from its humble start. Besides BLFS, the project has spawned a couple of other books. There’s ALFS or AutomatedLFS, to help automate the process of creating an LFS system, and CLFS or CrossLFS that focuses on cross compiling.