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.

Once again QEMU saved the day...

Suppose you want to try out Xen for the first time, and you're a bit paranoid careful because, well, you don't want to break your system. No problem, just download the Xen 3.0 Demo CD Image (a live CD). Or so I thought; it took me a loong time to even find a download link for that beast. There seems to be no ISO image for 3.0.4, but only for 3.0.3 (gah!).

Anyways, the live CD seems to try to mount /dev/sda as my CDROM drive, which is... um... stupid, as that's a harddrive. A SATA harddrive to be more specific. A dm-crypt'ed hard drive to be even more specific. So there's no way the live CD can ever mount that. I was dropped into a minimalist shell, but couldn't figure out how to fix anything from there, and a quick look at the docs didn't reveal anything either.

So here's my fix:

  • Boot the normal OS, insert the live CD.
  • Start the live CD in QEMU: qemu -cdrom /dev/cdrom -boot d
  • Done. I had some problems with graphics in QEMU, so I chose the command line boot option of the live CD...

Nice huh? QEMU's hard drive is an IDE drive, it's called /dev/hda (instead of /dev/sda), thus the live CD works fine.

(Yes, I'm sure this could be fixed "the right way" too, but this is a nice way to get quick results, i.e. a working Xen test setup)

OpenDocument Format now published as ISO Standard

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome with me ISO/IEC 26300:2006, the freshly published OSI standard, better known as OpenDocument Format (ODF).

(via Slashdot)

OpenDocument Format (ODF) Approved by ISO/IEC Members

Yay! The OpenDocument format (ODF) has now been approved by ISO/IEC members.

For the uninitiated, ODF is

an open XML-based document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents (including memos, reports, and books), spreadsheets, charts, and presentations. OpenDocument was developed as an application-independent file format by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), a vendor-neutral standards organization.

ODF is currently employed by OpenOffice 2.0, KOffice, Abiword, and tons of other applications. Lots of other office suites and programs will likely follow. The recently formed ODF Alliance now has more than 150 member organizations.

On a related note: the proposed IEEE 802.11n working draft was not yet approved by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group...

(via Nico Golde)

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