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Linux From Scratch

January 2nd, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Recently, I’ve started playing with “Linux From Scratch“, which I would kind of describe as a Linux Distribution, but it isn’t really – it’s probably best described as a book.

Basically, it takes you through the steps of compiling your own Linux system from scratch (hence the name). I did something similar a while back with Gentoo, but even then, that takes away a lot of the initial hard work, and hides some stuff from you. LFS takes some time to get going (from what I can tell so far, about the same as Gentoo), but I’ve been doing this using the magic of VMWare Server, so I’ve been able to take snapshots (just in case), and to suspend the VM when I’ve had enough for the day. Incidentally, I have downloaded the Live CD which contains all of the tools necessary, all the packages, and all the patches (and wonderfully, the ISO is just mounted via VMWare, so I never needed to burn it to disk).

I absolutely love the depth of information that the book provides you. It tells you to type in commands, and then tells you what each command was for, and what it does – it even describes each parameter for some of the commands.

What I don’t like though is some of the information that is completely missing. As you are compiling the initial system of compilers, tools, libraries, etc, which are then used to compile the remainder of the system (and are eventually replaced), it tells you the name of the tool, but doesn’t provide you with the name of the package, or whether you should apply the patches (Admittedly, it does tell you to apply some patches as they are required, but the remainder of the patches are anybody’s guess – do I apply them now, or do I get told to use them later???).

I’ve hit a bit of an impasse with it at the moment though. I have just “chroot”ed into my new environment, and I’m told that I need to get another package from the CD. Except I can’t get to the CD, because I haven’t been told to mount it in the new environment. This could be something that I can do and fix easily, but I got fed up at that pointed and gave up for the day.

The other thing that I wouldn’t mind seeing, are scripts to do the typing for you. The book involves a lot of typing, and I am worried that at some point I am going to make a nasty typo that’s going to bring everything down, or cause invisible problems that will rear their ugly head much later in the process. If the commands were all based in scripts, this would be less of a worry for me. I do realise though, that this takes things out of your hands a little, and moves over towards Gentoo territory a little.

But aside from that, it’s becoming a nice little learning experience for me, and I’m glad that I’m doing it. Hopefully, in the future, I will be able to use this image as the basis for all my Linux VMWare images.

Apparently, there is the ALFS project, which aims to automate parts of the LFS build process – who knew?! 😉
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