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I want to demonstrate a certain in-house application as a Linux Live CD. I'd like to basically take a live CD "source" (preferably something based on Fedora/RedHat/Debian/Ubuntu which I know reasonably well), modify it slightly to add the app + it's dependencies (Java VM etc.) and repackage it so that the app boots automatically under X. What's the easiest way to do that?

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11 Answers 11

SUSE Studio

Build an appliance — or your own custom Linux distro — with a few mouse clicks. Customize it to your heart's content, and share it with the world!

... it doesn't get much easier.

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Note that an invitation is now required. – John T Jan 12 '10 at 15:24
That's right, but you get them for free: "We‘re adding capacity to SUSE Studio as fast as we can. Sign up now to get in line and receive your invitation as soon as possible." – Molly7244 Jan 12 '10 at 15:45
Yes, but I told a friend of mine about it and he signed up days ago, still no invite. If he wants to get started ASAP this isn't of any use. – John T Jan 12 '10 at 15:50
I have to agree, this is only a decent answer if he's willing to wait an undetermined amount of time. I remember back in July when I signed up it took two days to get the invite. A friend of mine signed up not that long ago and it took two weeks for his. – Marcin Jan 12 '10 at 17:41
I just signed up when John T. posted his comment, i got the invitation just now ... so much for not being "decent" and "undetermined amount of time". if you know a better answer, feel free to contribute, but downvoting the answer because SUSE Studio requires an invitation is ridiculous. – Molly7244 Jan 12 '10 at 17:49

Two approaches i've tried - UCK lets you build a livecd based off one of the livecd distros of ubuntu- its a fairly neat approach, that lets you install apps using apt and dpkg, and lets you set things up independant of your running system.UCK is also the 'official' way to respin an ubuntu livecd.

Alternately remastersys lets you convert an installed ubuntu or debian system into a livecd, either with the same useraccount as the original, or a 'default' fixed one. You need less space to build one than UCK, and in certain ways, its easier to maintain since you can just have a 'reference' system and churn off releases from that remastersys is currently not maintained, or supported, and its impossible to get the packages for it since the developer quit maintaining it. There's a fork by black lab linux, but its somewhat incomplete

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Fedora has the Revisor tool to help you build your own live CD. Here's a tutorial.

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You might want to check out TazLito on SliTaz.

Once you find your way around in it, it is the cleanest, simplest, most elegant remastering tool I've ever encountered. And if it's just for showing off one app, you couldn't ask for better, since you can build it up on a full desktop OS that's only 35 MB!

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I think the best answer is the recommendation to use SuseStudio, which I have heard really great things about.

However since the bounty is asking for a Debian (apt*) based approach, the answer is Debian Live.

*Apt is a tool which uses Debian tooling (namely deb packages) to download and install packaged software and to resolve package dependencies from central standardised repositories.

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Linux From Scratch definitely isn't the easiest option, but using ALFS project, Automated Linux From Scratch, things get substantially easier. If you are somewhat comfortable with Linux, ALFS is excellent and, as you will see, more customizable.

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That doesn't seem to be a quick way to create a LiveCD to just showcase an application. – Pavel Šimerda Mar 30 '14 at 14:58

Well may be this is not what exactly you are looking for but seems a worth to give it a try.

It is web based service called Reconstructor for GNU/Linux distribution customization and creation toolkit. Customizations include boot logo image and text color, wallpaper, themes, icons, applications, and more.

Reconstructor is free to use. Even though it says certain services cost actual money. Here is the full list of things you can add through Modules:

   Apt repository  
   Custom boot menu  
   Default theme (for Gnome, etc., use an already installed theme or upload your own)  
   Add Ubuntu PPA repositories  
   Perform a system upgrade  
   Change the Usplash image  
   Change Firefox start page  
   Create a custom desktop launcher  
   Change the default icon theme (use an already installed theme or upload your own)  
   Change the wallpaper  
   Window border  
   Install .deb package  
   Install a file to the chroot environment  
   Set the Live Environment hostname  
   Set the initial splash image of the Live CD  
   Set the live CD text color  
   Modify Gconf keys  

More info about this can be read on this and this article.

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@StevenPenny link updated with softpedia download link. I can't test it cause don't have Linux. – avirk Apr 1 '14 at 8:04

1.Here is a set of solutions to achieve what you want : for Ubunto you can use Ubuntu Customization Kit you may wnt to follow this tutorial

2.Somewhat similar to Instalinux, SUSE studio allows you to use a web interface to create a custom distribution or “appliance”. It tops the charts in supported media, by including output for CD, DVD, USB stick, hard drive, VMware, VirtualBox, and Xen.

3.Revisor is a very nice remastering tool for Fedora. It gives a wide variety of media types and includes some customization features not found some of the other graphical tools, such as package-by-package selection or browsing by category. Revisor also allows you to choose whether your creation will be a live system or an installer.

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Fedora example
You can use Kickstart Installations , documentation, options

Sample how our kickstart file can looks like (it uses also kickstart files that ure in system)

#enable specific local repository and remote repository
repo --name=local --baseurl=file:///work/0_makeiso/_repos/mias
repo --name=updates --mirrorlist=$releasever&arch=$basearch

#include other kickstart files
%include /usr/share/spin-kickstarts/fedora-livecd-kde.ks

#do some basic setting 
selinux --disabled
services --enabled=sshd,httpd


#remove packages we do not want

#add-install packages we need


#do some tuning stuff we need

echo "MoRena ALL=(ALL)       ALL" >> /etc/sudoers
sed -i -e '{s/udev_sync = 1/udev_sync = 0/}' /etc/lvm/lvm.conf

After all we build that in LiveISO via:
livecd-creator --verbose --config=/build/custom.ks --fslabel=CustomISO --cache=/build/cache -t /build.tmp

result will be bootable CustomISO.iso
For creating local repositorys may be used createrepo command, there and there some howto and examples
As usual - once done, and customizing iso is just add remove lines from kickstart file)

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  1. take the live CD you prefere
  2. unsquash the image
  3. chroot
  4. do your modifications
  5. resquash
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Another option is manjaro-iso, or its UI frontend b2im. I used b2im some time ago and it was pretty simple to use, but it gave me an error at the end of the process. Hopefully today that issue was fixed.

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