Building custom Debian live CDs with live-helper / live-magic

live-magic settings
live-magic building an ISO

If you want to generate a custom Debian live CD, including only the tools you want (and maybe additional tools you don't find in other live CDs) there's a really simple solution: live-helper.

Creating a basic bootable Debian live CD ISO image in the current directory is as simple as:

  $ lh_config
  $ lh_build

That's it. The result will be a file called binary.iso, which you can either burn on a CD-ROM via

  $ wodim binary.iso

or test in QEMU using a command line like this:

  $ qemu -boot d -cdrom binary.iso

Of course there are many possibilities to customize the generated image to your likings, see the documentation in the Debian wiki, or the lh_config/lh_build manpages.

Please note that live-helper can not only generate CD ISOs, but also bootable DVDs, images for USB thumb drives, or netboot images.

There's also a nice GUI called live-magic which will make the process a bit easier if you don't like doing things on the command line.


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HI Uwe

Thanks for your blog. Have you tried to run qemu-system-ppc to load a debian iso file? If yes how?
I have tried qemu-system-ppc -boot d -cdrom debian-40r3-powerpc-CD-1.iso -hda qemu_ppc.img
but I am getting stopped on yaboot right at the boot. It reads welcome to debian GNU/Linux etch but then I do not know how to boot. If I put just "install" the default parameters are device=cd and partition =2 and they don't look correct. What should I put?



Oh! it's really easy

Thanks, Uwe. I didn't know anything about this tool, and I need to create these types of CDs for my pupils. I continue reading your blog...

Best Regards.

live-magic is broken in sid

live-magic is broken in sid - doesn't set the same variables as live-helper uses.


Can someone please tell me how to get that live-magic settings screen that is shown on this page. The first picture is of the main screen but I cannot find that settings screen anywhere. Please any help would be appreciated.

live-magic config screen

Hm, that screen seems to be no longer available, sorry. live-magic (and live-helper) has changed quite a lot since my blog posting...

Thanks Uwe for the response.

Thanks Uwe for the response. Is it safe to say that debian live is now dealt with using just live-helper. I mean Live-magic only allows for those basic choices without any further tweaking. I mean to get all those options you have to go through the good ol cli right? Are you still using Live-helper? any other projects that you could suggest that have the same purpose? Thanks again for your response.